New York Blood DVD Review
Written by Robert Gold
DVD released by Brain Damage Films
Written and directed by Nick Oddo
2009, Region 0/NTSC, 56 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on January 6th, 2009
Vinnie Stigma as Vinny
Marvin Schwartz as Lorenzo
Alexandra Cohen-Speigler as Jenny
Vinnie Vella as The Boss
Frank Aquilino as Butchie
Vinny (Vinnie Stigma) is trying to raise his son to be a responsible man, but is in over his head in a sea of contradictions. The poor kid would be better off with his mother, but instead is in the care of his drug-dealing father. Vinny has a variety of interests, from rigging boxing matches and operating an escort service to opening a nightclub. Child support is not high on his list and neither is spending any time with the boy. The two are only seen together in this movie a few times. Once when the kid walks in on a drug deal at the family dinner table, and again when a church visit comes with a father-son lecture on the importance of character and responsibility (the latter is immediately followed by a scene with Vinny getting into a fight with the kid's mother over his inability to be a good provider).
Vinny's father, Lorenzo (Marvin Schwartz) is brought into Vinny's world upon his release from prison. Lorenzo is given everything he could possibly need — money, an honest job and a nice hat. Unhappy with his second chance, Lorenzo opts for revenge against the man who landed him in jail. Now with his taste for blood rekindled, the old man wants back in to the life of crime.
Vinny must deal with the consequences of his father's actions. Lorenzo is quick to settle an argument with a gun or knife, but soon grows paranoid that everyone is out to get him. He goes on a brief but thorough killing spree, effectively crippling Vinny's entrepreneurial status, leaving him no choice but to choose business over family.
Produced by Lawrence S. Kaplan, New York Blood appears to have been funded by a tattoo parlor and a hat shop. This is a small film with a neighborhood feel, meaning that everybody featured (few of them professional actors) seem to bring the location with them. There is ample footage cribbed from a local street fair and the main location looks to be the filmmaker's apartment.
Director Nick Oddo explains in the commentary track (filled with the constant and annoying sound of his lighter flicking) that New York Blood is a horror film for the Working Man. I disagree with this simply because our hero is more street douche than man. The horrors he faces are direct consequences of his own actions and the pain he feels is nothing compared to that he inflicts on others. Vinny is a passive-aggressive lowlife who doesn't appreciate his family, or hold a shred of moral fiber. Lorenzo is more appealing because his actions are direct and he is not the hypocrite his son is.
Marvin Schwartz is the standout in the ensemble cast. Director Oddo wisely brings him back from their previous short film I Hate You (included on this DVD as a bonus feature that I can easily recommend). I am a bit conflicted with Vinnie Stigma's performance. His character is reminiscent of the flawed characters from the superior Mean Streets. I want to believe he is a better actor than the material allows. Stigma is far more confident as a musician (Agnostic Front), but as an actor he could use stronger direction.
I can appreciate the terrors of the daily struggle motif, but this is a family drama disguised as a horror film. Indeed it is a bloody genre picture, but not one easily recommended for enthusiasts of the horror genre.
Video and Audio:
The film is presented in the original 1:33.1 full frame aspect ratio. The picture is not striking, but that may be due to the low-budget production values.
Two-channel stereo is all you get here, but it gets the job done.
This is where the disc shines. Brain Damage has packed this disc with some pretty solid features. I Hate You (superior) bonus film, original trailer, director's commentary, and a few short films to round out the package. Nice work.
It takes more than a nice hat to make you a good man.