Thanks to the success of the sublime Gremlins, the 1980s saw a mini rash of similar ‘evil little creature feature’ type films with Ghoulies and Critters (which I always thought was better than Gremlins rip-off tag it was saddled with, it’s a good, fun little film in its own right). Fast forward to 2004 (with a quick stop off at 1993’s Leprechaun) and we have Blood Gnome, in which the creatures featured are all caught up in the heady and kinky world of BDSM. If that angle has perked up your interest, prepare to be disappointed, as if this is an accurate representation of BDSM (And I don’t believe for one second that it is) it is singularly the most dull and unsexy way to spend one’s time I can imagine. Spoilers To Follow.
Scared And Horny Yet? I Know I’m Not.
Our pre-credits sequence sees a bleach blonde guy meeting up with a woman, Elranda, to buy some drugs. Foolishly ignoring her instructions to ‘not touch anything’, he immediately opens up the one box in the place that contains some sort of hell beastie. Unlucky son. He is saved from being munched by Elandra, who gives him a clip round the ear and sends him on his merry way, with strict instructions to not sell the drugs to the BDSM community. She soothes the creature, who she calls ‘Mother’ in the box; ‘he was too rich for you’, and chock full of peroxide and drugs one would imagine, that sort of stuff goes straight to the hips. If this thing even has hips.
Credits sequence gives us bondage; a guy getting his rocks off by being whipped etc. It’s so titillating I’m in serious danger of falling asleep. It all goes seriously awry when some invisible creatures slash up the couple. We get a flash of what I assume is a ‘Blood Gnome’. It…looks really lame.
Because of all the awesome sexy time we get in the credits the film makers continue with this spicy angle with a shot of a lone man being woken up by his phone. His duvet cover and pillow case do not match. Racy. He is Daniel, a crime scene photographer. It’s his first day back at work after something bad happened to him (missing a lot of classes at Acting 101 maybe) and his police detective boss is sympathetic but firm, telling him to get his head back in the game, but defending him to her fellow police officers. Daniel spots a tiny, strange bloodied handprint on the floor of the room.
As the bodies of the couple are wheeled away a news reporter can be heard talking about what an evil tragedy this was…whilst sticking the camera front and centre to capture every sordid detail. Nice to see at least one realistic detail in this film. Amongst the crowd watching the scene are Elandra, the blonde drug guy and a girl with a black bob, who claims she knew the man who died. Daniel is outside talking with his assistant, who is deeply stupid. Deeply Stupid was filming the crime scene for evidence, but accidently shot the whole thing in night vision. Instead of berating him for totally fucking up at work, Daniel instead tells him how the camera can be used to see through women’s clothing (er, no it can’t). A Black Bob woman calls Daniel over to ask him about the case. She tells Daniel that the couple were indulging in sexual role-play, they weren’t tortured. She gives Daniel her card and asks him to call her if there are any developments in the case. He really should have just said ‘no comment’ but I’m getting the impression that professionalism is not the order of the day here. Right on cue, Deeply Stupid returns, overjoyed with the magic abilities of the camera (considering it’s his fucking job, he doesn’t have a clue how a video camera works). He was successful in Mission Pervert and has recorded through a colleague’s shirt. As Daniel admires her breasts she turns up behind him, and is decidedly unimpressed. Despite the handicap of wearing the most hideous lipstick known to man, she clocks him in the face. As he picks up his battered camera he notices a strange creature, invisible to the naked eye, but captured on the infra-red camera (wow, didn’t see that one coming).
I’d Be Very Surprised If Either Of These Two Could Even *Spell* BDSM.
Shaken and confused, he heads for home. Black and white flashback time! Set to bloody awful music! Yay! Turns out Daniel used to have a foxy, way out of his league girlfriend, who he proposed to via the medium of photography. She celebrated by showing us her breasts. Everyone’s a winner. This is clearly connected to The Very Bad Thing That Happened To Daniel that everyone keeps going on about.
Roused by his sleep by his phone again, Daniel learns there has been another murder. (Please read this line in a Taggart Style Scottish Accent, which is what I did when writing it) At the new crime scene the same MO has been carried out. While Daniel records the body, once again in infra-red, he sees the same nasty little creature as before chowing down on the victim. It spots him and bolts around the room, before vanishing. The detective, dressed in yellow like a frumpy April O’Neil, brings him out of his shock. When he tries to tell her about the tiny blood hand print she chastises him for being under too much pressure delusional in reaction to whatever happened to his fiancé. Why not just show her the video you just taped, moron? Everything is shot in very tight angles with close ups from below the actors faces, which was probably what the film makers thought was claustrophobic and clever, but is annoying and very unflattering on even the slenderest of chins.
Blonde guy returns to his flat after a hard day’s work of selling drugs and being blonde. Elandra is waiting for him and tells him off for taking the money from the sale of her drugs to buy different drugs. To make it up to her he must have sex with her. That’ll learn him. Oh, wait a minute. She’s crossed the line from kinky to murder as she slits his throat and tells the creatures to take the body for Mother to devour.
Maybe She’s Pondering That Being In Actual Porn Would Be Less Degrading Than Being In Blood Gnome.
Turns out when Daniel got hit by the blonde cop his camera was broken and won’t record anymore. Instead of, say, getting on Amazon and buying a new one, he instead goes straight for the BDSM, as the detective told him to. Why? He’s not a police officer, solving this crime is not on his shoulders. He finds a website and reacts his way through the pictures he looks at in the most bizarre fashion, as if he were watching a YouTube compilation video of ‘Epic Fails’. He then joins a web chat to glean more information, but he is heckled and called a pervert. He decides instead to ring Divinity, the black bobbed lady from earlier, to get some information from her.
Meanwhile, Elandra is helping Mother give birth to a baby Blood Gnome, which looks like a skinned Gizmo. She then draws some sort of fluid from the thing and mixes it with her drugs.
I Suggest Killing It With Fire.
Daniel gives himself the male equivalent of a make-over montage from a romantic comedy in preparation for Divinity’s arrival. Luck his not on Daniel’s side as things all go wrong when he tries to make her a coffee. Dude also has two microwaves, who needs two microwaves? He gives Divinity her reheated, old coffee (yum) and they get to talking. She admires his photographs on the walls and says she knows he was in a mental hospital for a bit, as she read it in an article. One photo on the wall shows a women’s face all blown to shit. This is Daniel’s wife, who was killed along with her lover in a murder suicide. Daniel went to the scene of the crime to do his job and then slowly realised it was his wife’s body. ‘That’s fucked up’, remarks Divinity. Yes, but do you know what is more fucked up? Displaying a photo like that in fucking pride of place.
Definitely The Face Of A Guy Who Would Keep A Photo Of His Dead Wife On Display (And Would Own Two Microwaves).
This grim story is the perfect jumping off point to some flirting though, as Divinity invites Daniel to watch her in action, as he wants to know more about the BDSM world. When Daniel arrives at the location, he meets Elandra, who is Divinity’s mistress. As Daniel photographs them as they do their thing in a scene that is as about as sexy as dry toast.
Back at police headquarters, the two detectives look over the evidence. Their results say that some sort of animal killed the victims. Daniel arrives. The photo he took of the handprint is useless as evidence as he didn’t put a ruler in shot, so there’s no way of knowing how big the prints were. The victims other wounds were self-inflicted, which is apparently some form of erotic play where the participants cut themselves just enough to draw blood, called Bloodsport. Daniel goes to visit Divinity to question her about these ‘bloodsports’. She is in her garage, making fetish chairs or something. She claims bloodsport is rare but safe. Daniel helps her with her work, learning some important BDSM tips which may help with his escape later on in the film (Spoiler; it does). In the process Elandra’s bag is dislodged from where she stashed it earlier and it falls on his head, knocking some of the contents, including the drugs, onto the floor, which break, spilling the contents onto the floor.
More unerotic sex, as Divinity gives Daniel an up close and personal BDSM experience. Keeping the good times coming, next we see a guy dressed as a pig indulging in some sort of butcher fantasy type affair. The Blood Gnomes strike, killing them. Maybe they are puritanical conservative nut-jobs on the side and are against sexual expression? As Daniel drives to this new crime scene he talks to the gnomes, who are in the car in invisible form, they open his camera to expose the film. Despite looking into his back seat several times, Daniel doesn’t notice their little trick. At the crime scene, Daniel goes into a photographing/videoing frenzy, determined to catch the creatures on film. Everyone thinks he’s crazy again. Especially blonde cop, still angry over her chest being snapped.
Paranormal Activity 4 Took A Very Different Approach.
Male detective (really don’t think he name has been imparted to us, but he’s about two doughnuts away from saying “I’m too old for this shit”) goes to Divinity’s house to ask her about her meetings with Daniel. Elandra is there, and gives a very good example of how NOT to act if a policeman comes sniffing around one’s house. She makes to move the box containing Mother, Detective offers to help. Before they can move the box, he notices the spilled drugs from the earlier scene. Recognising the capsules from the other murders, he confronts her. They fight. She wins. He had ample time to escape, but she trusses him for some sexy death time.
All of Daniel’s photographs are ruined. Female detective shouts at him. Deeply Stupid says maybe he’s covering something up. Daniel blames the creatures, which idly enough no one is inclined to believe. Daniel tries to make himself stay awake so the things can’t kill him by tasering himself, drinking coffee and breaking his own television. Why does he have to be asleep before they can kill him? Hasn’t bothered them up until now.
Divinity calls to see Daniel and finds him in quite the state. He freaks her out by ranting on about creatures that only he can see. Did he own the only infra-red camera in the world or something? Buy a sodding new one, record the things and go to the police, or possibly the RSPCA. She says that there is a special bloodsport party by invite only and that everything will be safe and lovely as Elandra has organised it. That’s me reassured. She tells him to get some sleep and leaves. Meanwhile, Elandra is still toying with male detective. She tells him they feed off fear/heightened emotions (like pig sex I guess), hence their savagery when they are around this. She feeds him to Mother. I’ll bet the detective was one week away from retirement as well.
Daniel, armed with a baseball bat, defends himself from the gnomes. He then chats online with someone calling themself ‘Blood Gnome’ who tells him he knows too much and they are in his head. Daniel reads out the entire conversation for the illiterates in the audience. He manages to record them on tape, but they attack him and try to erase it. He manages to save the tape. One of them grabs a knife and stabs him. They also taser him in the face. They sound exactly like Gremlins, with none of the bashful charm. They are also incredibly dull. If they were going for the Mom vs. Gremlins vibe, they utterly failed. One of them attacks Daniel with the knife again, he manages to bite its hand, forcing it to let go off the knife and drop to the floor. He kicks it in testicles (Yes. Really), and kills it. This is the sort of thing that just might work in a particularly silly episode of The X-Files. He can suddenly see them. He kills most of them. He has the taste of their blood, showing his fondness for BDSM is coming on in leaps and bounds. “Now I can see you”, he delightedly states. You also have the fucking body of one, isn’t that much better as a form of proof?
This Just Looks So Fucking Stupid I have Literally Nothing To Say About It.
He drops the tape off at the vault for safekeeping and goes to see Divinity, telling her he has proof of the Gnomes existence. He entreats her not to go to bloodsport party tonight. Exhausted, he falls asleep. The creatures take a topless Divinity away (I’m sure it was incredibly important to the plot that she had to be so). When Daniel wakes up he finds himself holding a knife and the male detective’s head on the chair. Having been framed by the creatures, he flees.
When he gets home he hears over his police radio that he is a wanted man. This guy loves to talk to himself, he’s always rambling away about inconsequential bollocks, no wonder his hot wife cheated on him. Blood Gnome comes online and taunts him, demanding the tape in exchange for Divinity. Blood Gnome tells him to come to the party, giving him the secret address. Its number 36 something…hang on, I live in a flat 36. No one told me anything about a bloodletting party, best put some towels down. His car is known to police as well, and when Deeply Stupid shows up and gives Daniel his work badge back, which was found at the scene of the crime, Daniel punches him and takes his car.
Sexy blood party time! They go to great lengths to tell us the place is remote with no phone signal/landline. Responsible sexy blood party though, everyone has to bring STD tests. Bondage montage. Yawn. And the BDSM community thought 50 Shades of Grey gave them a bad rep. Daniel arrives and crashes the party, warning them about the Gnomes. He stamps on the invisible (to them) creatures, is overpowered and knocked out. Dull sexy blood party resumes, much to my dismay.
That’s Exactly The Kind Of Enthusiasm I Would Expect To See From People About To Partake In An Orgy.
Elandra says she will take care of Daniel. He slices up one of her friends for the Gnomes. Daniel comes round and is actually surprised that she was ‘behind this all this time’. Massacre at sexy blood party as the Gnomes attack, killing everyone apart from Daniel. These things look so ridiculous I can’t even tell you. Elandra brings out the bound Divinity to bargain with Daniel for the tape, threatening to torture her. He relents and Divinity is spared. Elandra tells Daniel since he tasted the Gnome’s blood, that is why he can see them, and must die.
Divinity is still in trouble though as Elandra ties her up next to Mother’s box. Elandra is a woman of many talents as she can remove a corset in a matter of nano-seconds. She tells Divinity that human blood brings the Gnomes into our world and helps them become strong and smart. Daniel escapes using the handy bondage knowledge he learnt from Divinity. Elandra attacks him with a whip. He kicks her, she kicks him. It’s oh so badly done. She kicks him in the face, despite being nowhere near him in the next shot. More boring whip based fighting. Daniel tries to untie Divinity but Elandra (I’m so sick of typing these stupid names) is still in a fighting mood. Mother escapes from her box, but ends up eating Elandra, who is chock full of drugs, and kills them both. Or something. I was so beyond caring at this point. Daniel and Divinity, reunited, peer into the box that held Mother; there is only a big hole in the floor. The camera zooms into it; it looks like a journey through someone’s colon. And that seems like a fine place to end the film.
I’ve Not Made A Tremors Reference On Here Yet. Here’s One For You Now; This Looks Like A Really Shit Graboid.
Well, that was dumb. Really fucking dumb. I actually felt my IQ fall by several notches while watching it. And for a film chock film of ‘naughty’ sex, it was also really fucking dull, and chronically unsexy. The acting was completely horrendous, with script, direction and production values being in the same boat. I will give the film makers some credit for using practical effects for the blood gnomes, even if they did look terrible, I’m just a sucker for practical effects. Although I suspect this was from necessity, not design, as the budget can’t have been more than pennies. As mentioned, this could have worked as a standalone story in an X-Files ‘Monster of the Week’ episode, or maybe a segment in a Creepshow film, but as a 87 minute (and I was painfully aware of every slowly passing minute of it) there’s not enough substance to fill the time, so they fill it with a nonsensical plot and boobs. Lots of boobs. This film reminded me of the old ‘bush and gore’ films Channel 5 used to show when it first launched in the late 1990s (for Americans and young people who don’t remember the launch of Channel 5 in the UK, this term used to have an entirely different set of connotations). It has none of the charm or manic energy of Critters and Gremlins, films which worked partly due to the location, small town Americana, and the families who lived there defending their homes against an invasion of pesky, murderous (but strangely endearing) creatures. Blood Gnome seems to have no locations at all, due to all the strange close ups and boring sets. The creatures themselves have no more menace than Boglins (remember them??) and are painfully unscary. Basically, if you want quirky, horrific little monsters, go for Gremlins or Critters, if you want BDSM, just watch some porn (Not like it’s hard to find on the internet). If you want a badly made, boring mess of a film, then Blood Gnome is the dud for you.