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Red Blooded American Girl

1990, Starring Andrew Stevens, Heather Thomas, Christopher Plummer, Kim Coates. Directed by David Blyth.

Like many of its nu-gothic contemporaries, Red Blooded American Girl tries to re-invent the vampire legend for the 1990s. Thankfully it manages to do it without the token scene inside a darkly lit goth club, but a muddled plot makes Red Blooded American Girl less of a vampire film than it is an extended bout of musical chairs.

Our hero Owen (who created ecstasy, natch) is busy testing future designer drugs on himself at home when he is interrupted by Professor Alcore (CanFilm mainstay Christopher Plummer). The president of a company called "Life Reach," Alcore immediately offers Owen a job researching life extension drugs for AIDS patients. Owen takes the job, and when he arrives the next day he finds that Life Reach is housed in a futuristic-looking office building with security cameras everywhere. He is shown the ropes by a slimy executive named Dennis. Highlights of his tour include giant vats of blood in the basement, and Paula. Although she is a fellow scientist, Paula looks like she has just returned from a Loverboy video shoot, complete with black leather jacket and tousled blonde mane.

But Paula isn't around for long after stumbling into a room at Life Reach where she sees a girl tied to the bed screaming, she promptly quits and urges Owen to do so as well. Confusing this for an amorous invitation, Owen drops by her house after work. After watching her dance to bad synth pop in a jazzercise outfit, Owen takes her back to Life Reach to do some snooping. They sneak past all the security cameras, and then open the door using Owen's computerized security pass. You would think that using a pass would record his entry, and make all this sneaking totally useless, but I'm not the scientist.

They quickly find the girl from before, this time in a padded cell in the basement. When they ask her if she's okay, she doesn't answer because it's bad manners to talk with a mouthful of Paula's ankle. Later at the hospital emergency room, Owen inexplicably steals a sample of Paula's blood. He drops her off at home, but has to come speeding back after analyzing the blood Paula's cells are mutating! Paula already knows that she is changing, though. After accidently cutting her finger, she is fascinated by how much she enjoys sucking the blood out. This leads to an unintentionally hilarious scene where Paula does an "erotic" dance while dragging a kitchen knife across her body.

Back at the lab, Professor Alcore has watched the entire biting scene on the security camera and sends Dennis to bring Paula back. Dennis arrives just before Owen, kidnaps Paula and puts her in her very own padded cell back at Life Reach. When Owen arrives behind them, Alcore tells him exactly which variation of the vampire story we are watching: The professor found a tropical virus on a trip to Africa, and got infected by experimenting on himself with it. Said virus makes people crave human blood (he calls himself a blood user), and the more they drink the madder they become. There is also a danger of dying from a blood overdose. Finally he reveals that Life Reach is not looking for a cure for AIDS, but for the mysterious virus.

When Dennis goes to give Paula a little taste of blood in her cell, she tricks him, ties him up to ends up with his ankle in her mouth. Just as she finishes wiping her lips, Owen swings open the giant padded door and breaks her out. Now insane, Paula decides to get out of the car and runs away into the city. She attacks some random guys on the street for blood, and even feeds on a ponytailed jock at an all-night gym. Overdosing on blood, Paula is now near death. Finally Owen catches up with her and takes her back to Life Reach. There Owen explains to Alcore how he plans to clean Paula's infected blood out and replace it with his own. They go to Owen's house to perform the experiment, with Alcore following in a gigantic limousine.

Did you get all that? Owen goes to Life Reach no less than four times in the movie, and to his own house and to Paula's no less than three times each. It's like everyone is constantly on the move, bringing somebody here, sneaking over there, following a car back here. But what is most frustrating is that there are only three locations to visit! However, when the bulk of the plot has four characters running between three locations, you better have some damn good locations. And, surprisingly, Red Blooded American Girl has them. The offices of Life Reach are oddly futuristic with glass walls, chrome plating, and moody corridors. Likewise, Owen and Paula's houses are definitely a step above what I expected to see.

With a title like Red Blooded American Girl, you might assume that this film is trying to disguise the fact that it was shot in Toronto. That's only partially true. The title actually refers to a line spoken by Paula shortly after being infected, but it is the only time that this film refers in any way to it's origin. Like Damian Lee, Canada's most prolific straight-to-video director, David Blyth tends to go for the generic city approach.

Red Blooded American Girl is a fairly unremarkable Canuxploitation film that suffers from the usual low budget movie errors, possibly a few more than average. When Paula runs out of Owen's car and into the city, it is raining in every car interior shot, but not in any of the shots outside the car. This leads to a funny sequence where Owen drives down the street looking for Paula with his windshield wipers going on high, while Paula walks around enjoying the cool night air. This movie seems so bent on whipping the obvious blood/drug metaphor and showing off as many nipples as possible that continuity errors and illogical plot points were simply not bothered about. And finally, there is nothing sexy about biting ankles.

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