Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Alex Cooke, Mark Diaco, John Lloyd Fillingham, Troy Larkin, Vivienne Perry, Ruby Isobell Hall, more undead Nasties than a Turnip rally, and one of the finest movie puns in quite a while.
More details here.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
In the waning days of the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II, a ship heading to America is sunk by a German U-boat leaving a rag-tag group stranded in a lifeboat. The survivors include the stalwart but doomed Captain Malone (Taylor), tightly wound Australian soldier Nathan (Sinclair), strong-willed medic Jane (Sutherland), brutish but brave sailor Kirby (Jackson), selfish creep Jimmy (Diaco), highly skilled Russian sniper who's seen some shit Teplov (Cooke), and conniving sniveling coward Faraday (Fillingham). In a good news/bad news situation, they encounter a ship that promises rescue. Unfortunately, it's a German Nasty boat.
Although they lose a few members boarding the eerily empty ship, the gang finds shelter and a surviving chance in this dangerous place. But this faint glimmer of hope is threatened by constant bickering, treachery, and the appearance of a creepy ass little girl Mya (Hall).
They discover a lone survivor who we find out is guarding a treasure trove of German gold bars, a box full of weird Christian crosses and bottles of water, and two huge ass Gothic coffins that would make Tim Burton swoon.
Jimmy hatches a plot to snatch the cache of German gold bars and Faraday separates from the rest, finds a radio, and attracts the attention of a German ship that's already searching for the lost vessel, further complicating everyone's chance of survival. In search of more gold, greedy Jimmy opens the coffins and yup you guessed it, unleashes this blood vessel's star attraction, an ancient and very thirsty vampire.
And so the passenger list of this Hate Boat dwindles further as the creatures search for Mya, who's revealed to be the daughter of the vampires, canceling any chances of shuffle boarding on the Lido Deck*.
*A reference for readers of a certain age. Sigh...
I'm a sucker for horror stories set during the Second World War and the last few years have provided some fine flicks including 2018's zombie epic Overlord, 2020's battlefield creepshow Ghosts of War and the gremlins in the sky hand-wringer Shadow in the Clouds, all of which are strongly recommended for your Halloween marathon.
Blood Vessel director Justin Dix adds another worthy entry in this subgenre by delivering a tight thriller by presenting the rare treat of good character development, deft lighting and editing to enhance the air of claustrophobic menace, and a brilliant creature and make-up design to keep us engaged. Also, the movie utilizes an interesting addition to the vampire power inventory in the form of the the ability to bite a victim but not completely kill them in order to control them remotely. Unfortunately this leaves the vamps vulnerable to any damage their puppet may encounter or suffer which was a clever twist. Other highlights are the dedicated performances by Alex Cooke as the underestimated Russian soldier who possesses an understanding of the strange happenings by his constant tagline, "I've seen worse." and Nathan Phillips as the tough-as-cat-gut Aussie who suffers no fools or bloodsuckers. Dix worked in special effects before film directing and the attention and cool design of the glowing eye vampire evoke the eldritch horror and artistry of Nosferatu and 'Salem's Lot.
I can fully recommend Blood Vessel for your Halloween movie marathon, but due to patches of slow pacing in spots, I would show this either first or second for as the night wears on, the edibles kick in, the stomach full of treats bubbles, and attention spans dwindle, you may face a challenge staying awake waiting for the goddamn Great Pumpkin.
As of 10/2/23, Blood Vessel is streaming on Shudder.