Blood Drive Season 1 Episode 1: “The F…ing Cop”
Directed by David Straiton
Written by James Roland
Created by James Roland
Starring Alan Ritchson, Christina Ochoa, Thomas Dominique, Marama Corlett, Colin Cunningham, Andrew Hall, Darren Kent Syfy
Air Date: Wednesday, June 14th, 2017, 10pm
Midnight Grindhouse debuted Blood Drive Wednesday night on Syfy. With a story straight out of a cheap schlocky drive thru double feature, and promising splatter effects akin to Peter Jackson’s early filmography, James Roland’s Blood Drive offered something wholly different from what you’re used to in mid-week cable dramas. Cars with engines that devour human beings, heroes that curse, and all sorts of horror-themed “grindhouse” characters… Blood Drive has it all. The previews promised all sorts of “grindhouse” inspired baddies like cults, cannibals, monsters, and all the raunch you can throw in. Plot and acting are not what is important here. This show proudly attempts to be as in your face and graphically visceral as possible. I’m genuinely excited to see not if the show crosses the line, but how far past the line the show can go.
Opening with an expository monologue describing the post-apocalyptic future of 1999, we learn that “the world is broken,” people are poor and hungry, and gas costs $2000 a barrel. The only way out is to win the Blood Drive, a Death Race 2000-style car race, except the twist is that due to high gas prices, cars are reconstructed to run on human blood, that you can feed by forcing humans into the engine’s monstrous gears. We learn right away when a beautiful woman named Grace “Argento” (Christina Ochoa) lures two men to the hood of her sports car to “refuel.” Like a scene out of Evil Dead or Dead Alive, the blood doesn’t flow, it sprays.
We meet two cops from the futuristic Contracrime unit, and they learn from drug addicts of an underground scene where Blood Drive creator Julian Slink (Colin Cunningham) sets up the next race, pairing riders and drivers together and installing devices in their heads to enforce compliance. These riders have names like The Scholar, The Gentlemen, Fat Elvis, and Clown Dick. Of course, macho and studly cop Arthur (Alan Ritchson) literally falls into the wrong place and ends up as Grace’s partner. She openly mocks him, “Men are supposed to have scars, not be pretty.”
Winners get money, last drivers to the checkpoints, well you figure it out. This leads to various interactions between the various drivers along the way. I like the pairing of The Gentlemen (Andrew Hall) and The Scholar (Darren Kent) the best so far. And there are few times on TV are you going to see a fight start when someone throws a severed leg at another guy. Meanwhile, Arthur’s partner, Christopher “Carpenter” (Thomas Dominique), uncovers a plot that puts himself in jeopardy.
Grace and Arthur hurdle towards to finish line, and car trouble puts them at risk of finishing last and ending up dead. Luckily, they figure out that a rush of adrenaline can counteract the charges in their head, and what can two people that look chiseled out of an Tommy Hilfiger catalog do to boost their adrenaline… hence tonight’s title.
Blood Drive goes out of its way to promote itself as risque, “Video Nasty” style fun and while it succeeded in that, it also feels the promotion is more over the top than the actual show. Like the Tarantino/Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse from 2007, the show cuts in commercials and ads throughout. At the end there is a rather awesome promo for the 13 episodes showcasing each one in an 80s style VHS collectible. From the perspective of viewership, it is certainly not for everyone, but that was obviously creator James Roland’s intent here. This is clearly a passion project to his love of grindhouse exploitation cinema, and films like the above mentioned Death Race, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, and many more. You notice not so subtle homages throughout. Even to a horror supergeek like myself, some of it came across as heavy handed, but overall, Roland achieves the look, feel, body count, and blood quotient of classic grindhouse. I’ll be along for the ride.
Blood Drive returns to SyFy next Wednesday night at 10:00.
BLOOD DRIVE | WTF Happened in Episode 1? | SYFY
Cars that run on blood. Sex robots. And rampant dismemberment. WTF went down in the season premiere of Blood Drive? Wednesdays at 10/9c on SYFY.