I’ve always been a fan of Ryan Nicholson, and Plotdigger films. I can still picture in my head the first time I sat down to watch “Gutterballs”, and how it rocked my world. Nicholson is no stranger to the craft. A brief glance at his resume would reveal his impressive list of makeup and effects credentials. Ryan’s last outing, “Hanger”, was some of the most disgusting, yet lighthearted cinema I’ve ever witnessed. Two different friends on two separate occasions actually responded to that nasty little gem by vomiting. “Bleading Lady” is the new film by Ryan and company. Some of you may know this film by the title of “Star Vehicle”. This is what the film was referred to up until a recent press release from Breaking Glass announcing their plans to distribute the title. I’m not sure the reason for the title change, and I’m personally more fond of the previous, but it is what it is, and it’s still the same film I’m assuming.
“Bleading Lady” follows Don “The Driver” Cardini, in what I consider to be a breakthrough performance from Dan Ellis. Don is a self professed movie buff, and works for a production crew as transportation to the stars. Don is excited to learn that he’ll be driving his favorite scream queen, Riversa Red. Riversa, working under an alias, has been having trouble with a stalker. When Don becomes aware of this, he decides that he’s going to act as Riversa’s personal driver, as well as her unofficial bodyguard. Tensions on the set begin to rise, when Don violently defends every harsh word someone mutters at Riversa’s name, and things come to a head in a third act that nobody will see coming.
I had to let this film ruminate in my head a bit before I wrote about it. While this is still identifiably a plotdigger film, it’s really an animal of a different breed. You may find yourself harboring mixed feelings if you press the play button expecting a continuation of “Gutterballs”, or “Hanger”. It’s still just as sick and twisted of an experience as those films, but it’s more of a slow burning character study, than an all our gorefest. “Bleading Lady” marks a progression in plotdigger films that some indie crews never attempt. A lot of directors that become famous for wall to wall gore, never venture very far outside of that comfort zone. I’m impressed with Ryan and crew for stepping through that door, and testing the water.
Previous Plotdigger films have created a fantastical universe for that particular experience to take place. “Bleading Lady” is very much grounded in reality. By that I mean, there is no glossy setting that takes us back in time, just harsh reality. The film takes place on the set of an ultra low-budget film, which may be Ryan’s nod to what indie filmmakers go through. There are no limos, or fancy trailers, just the set, the camera, and a crafts table for meals. Characters in previous films under the company, especially in “Gutterballs” were written with the intention of making the audience hate them, thus cheering them on when they see their entrails splatter the screen. This time around, there’s actually a little more care involved. Nicholson takes his time building his characters, so that you may actually care when they bite the dust.
Dan Ellis is easily the driving force behind this experience. Since seeing him in a blood caked bowling shirt, I’ve always looked at Danny as a cool motherfucker. Not everyone has the chops to go from a supporting character, to the focus of the show, but Danny does so with grace. Dan Ellis has that quality that is not often seen. It’s a quality that made Bruce Campbell the B-movie icon that he has become. It’s an ability to take corny dialog, and make it sound cool as hell. I’ve mentioned to both him, and Nicholson that they need to shoot a spaghetti western, with Ellis filling the character of a man with no name. I still think this is an excellent idea, and if anyone could pull that type of character off in 2011, it would be Dan Ellis. I hope to see many more feature films in the future, utilizing his talent as a leading man.
Though I clearly enjoyed the film, I have to say that it’s not my favorite film in the Plotdigger universe. To be fair though, I wasn’t that big of a fan of “Live Feed” until about the third viewing, so it’s possible that it’s one of those flicks that will grow on you a little more after each viewing. Despite this, though, it’s still worthy of praise, and deserving of your dollars. It may not be “Gutterballs 2” but that will be coming later, and it’s sure to be epic. If you can imagine the plotdigger talents incorporated into a slow burning who-dunit, that’s what you can expect from this experience. All of the charm that separates Plotdigger films from the rest of the pack are still very prevalent. It’s the same great taste, with less filling. Now, mister Nicholson, bring on “Murder Mack”.