New Streaming Releases: Blood Machines (2019) - Reviewed

The 2019 episodic film Blood Machines is making its way to Shudder in all its strange and surreal glory. The synth based space opera finds a home among the stars with one of the most amazing films of the year. 

The movie which is broken up into three short episodes is a visual feast that calls back to the '80s era with its luscious looking set pieces, innovative ship design, amazing lighting, and insanely wondrous color grading. Like a science fiction Giallo horror mash up, the narrative is lacking but is made up for with an absolutely pulse pounding score by Carpenter Brut and low budget special effects that truly push the envelope of what can be done with nearly no money to spare. Filmed through a beautiful lens that features stunning saturation of bright red and purple hues, heavenly bodies, and a filtered film grain texture, the directorial effort by Seth Ickerman is a nearly perfect specimen of where sci-fi should be headed. 

In an era where fans are being treated to their favorite genres via multiple streaming services, Blood Machines plays hard and fast with rule bending as the creators find new and unique ways to blend numerous themes into the mythical realms of deep space. When two wayward pilots stumble upon a mystical female being in the outer reaches, their mission becomes confused as they struggle to maintain their humanity as they fall deeper and deeper into the unknown. Featuring a sensual backbone with tons of nudity and a strong female perspective on heavenly beings, their work here is to be appreciated beyond the typical indie fare. Unlike many independent science fiction hybrids, the creators behind this project shoot for the moon with a deeper meaning, which many times might be up to the viewer to decide. 

Capped off around 50 minutes via the three episodes, this should have been released strictly as a short film to cut out the repeated credits. And adding maybe 15-20 minutes to the finished project would have allowed them to do much more world building for their own vision of space. Many are going to search through the wreckage for what the directors are trying to say here, but none of it is too apparent. Much like older, trippy horror or sci-fi, the presentation is what this is about. Blood Machines amalgamates huge ideas of godliness and mechanical souls into this perfect little package that will resonate with fans of Beyond The Black Rainbow, Stanley Kubrick's 2001, and the continued film works of Nicolas Winding Refn. 

If you have Shudder, this is a must see. Understand that you're going in to a spectacle that uses the best parts of audio and visual to their extremes. While it won't win any awards for its stilted narrative issues, it's probably one of the most radical artistic pieces we've viewed in a while. And coming in the midst of a global health crisis, this is purist escapism amplified to the extreme. With scenery that some could compare to Danny Boyle's Sunshine or the massive labrynthian shots from Hellraiser 2, this a crossbreed that wears its influences on its sleeves but also breaks rules at a most expeditious pace. 

Take 50 minutes out of your quarantine and see this movie, especially if you don't need your content spoon fed to you. Many sci-fi fans complain that we don't get enough originality in the genre the past few years. Blood Machines is what we've been looking for. The only hope is that they can find the time or means to turn this into an extended film or series. This is easily one of the most intriguing creations of 2020 and definitely proves that there are new and great things out there for our brains to soak in while we try to maintain positive in these times of uncertainty. 

-Chris George