It’s a gorehound’s worst nightmare. After another soul-crushing day of working-class drudgery, Average Joe collapses onto his recliner, revs up the boob tube, and stuffs a horror video into the VCR. After having his ass chewed for eight hours by some sadistic supervisor, here’s a chance to vicariously turn the tables and watch someone else squirm. So far, so good – until this escapist-craving schlub hits a snag. His live-in girlfriend observes what’s onscreen and browbeats him for watching such “horror crap.”
Many a fright film freak can certainly relate to this scenario, so it seems only fitting that “Realms of Blood” uses it as a wraparound structure for several horror stories, ala “Creepshow” or “Cat’s Eye.” After some bickering over the value of fear flicks (he loves em; she prefers “Sleepless in Seattle”), the squabbling couple weathers a power blackout, during which time they attempt to freak one another out with scary stories.
“Pain Killer,” the first of such twisted tales, involves a Gulf War Soldier exposed to chemical warfare in the desert. Following his return home, the infected military man morphs into a bloodthirsty maniac, complete with rotting teeth, hollow eyes, filed fingernails, and a dermal condition reminiscent of cherry pie filling slathered over prime rib steak. But what should be a tense stalk ‘n slash turns out to be more crock than shock, a pedestrian, run-of-the-mill outing with the psycho-veteran hunting down his wife while a sympathetic femme fatale (Sheyenne Rivers) helps to fend him off.
“The Cologne,” however, is a far more interesting installment, gleefully playing into the absurdity and silliness of the horror genre. Telling the tale of a white-collar nebbish forever heckled by his co-workers and shunned by women, “The Cologne” blesses this balding, middle-aged loser with an after-shave potion that females can’t resist. Soon, the tables are turned, as our hero becomes a Casanova stud-muffin and beds the office ice queen. There’s a price to pay, however, for enjoying the virile virtues of this macho musk.
The most atmospheric of the three mini-movies sandwiched within “Realms of Blood” is “Blood Runs Cold,” which follows a tormented priest whose nightclub-addicted daughter is sucked into a vampire cult.
Looking for low-rent, B-movie schlock with porn production values? You could do a lot worse than “Realms of Blood.” But the reality is that this underachieving anthology doesn’t really deliver the goods. Scenes go on and on, prompting viewer impatience. The material smacks of familiarity, and when it does promise something new, there’s little follow-through and such potential falls flat. The premise of Gulf War Syndrome prompting psychopathic after-effects, for instance, is a timely and unique spin. But “Realms of Blood” merely turns its villainous veteran into another Freddy Kruger wannabe.
The real find on this DVD is the band Death Becomes You (aka DBY), featured on two videos included as extra features. If Halloween could be embodied through a band, this blood-spitting, black-garbed bunch of bogeymen would take the pumpkin crown. Stalking a stage full of skeletons and dolls dangling from nooses, Death Becomes You belts out gothic facemelters like “And Crows Will Dig Your Grave.” Equal parts Misfits, Alice Cooper, and Kiss, this campy, colorful clan is actually a lot more fun than the half-baked horror stories that make up “Realms of Blood.”