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by Brian McKay

"AKA 'The Curse of Bloodhead' or 'The Creature of Sunnyside Trailer Park'"
4 stars

Most of you are probably not aware that Nicolas Cage has a brother named Christopher Coppola who has been making low-budget indies for years. I myself was not aware of this fact, until I checked out the man's latest feature, currently shown under the working title THE CURSE OF BLOODHEAD.

When you first see Christopher Coppola, you may ask yourself "Who is this big, bald, tough-looking biker dude, and why does he sound so much like Nick Cage?" But while being a member of an elite Hollywood family must certainly have a few perks, Coppola leaves the impression that he's the family maverick, with a sense of style that sets his work apart from the rest of his clan.

Set primarily in two favorite staples of white trash culture, the Trailer Park and the Drive-In theater, Coppola has created what he describes as an anti-racism parable in the guise of a 1950's-style drive-in creature feature. While the monster-related aspects of the film are the kind of thing you'd expect to see on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the film is buoyed by strong characters, including a who's-who of favorite TV actors from the 70's. I have to respect any movie that casts Frank Gorshin and Bernie Kopell as youth-obsessed cultists, Shirley Jones as a tobacco-spitting and money-grubbing ghost, and the always yummy Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman, don't ya know) as a slutty trailer park queen. But the strongest dynamic of the film is the hate-at-first-sight relationship between its two protagonists.

Two men receive certified letters on the same day, informing each of them that they have inherited a trailer park and the surrounding land from a mother that they never knew they had. The catch is, one of them is white, one of them is black, and they're both racists. And since both of them are also BIG dudes, you know these two are going to have it out before the closing credits roll. Donnie Daniels, a pissed-off Black man who likes to scare white customers away from his coffee shop, is hoping the property holds some key to who his biological mother was. Doug McCoy, a pissed-off White man who looks like an extra on American Chopper, simply wants some cash out of the deal, declaring "The only mother I ever knew was mother-fucking social services".

The funny thing is, except for the skin color, these two guys actually could be brothers. They're the same size, both have shaved heads and goatees - hell, they even walk the same way. When they both show up to collect their inheritance and learn about each other's existence, the stage is set for a number of heated confrontations and all-out brawls.

Amidst all of the posturing an verbal jousting, each is the target of an attempted seduction by the aging tramp Lynette (Lynda Carter), each begins to notice that people are disappearing from the trailer park (usually leaving only a splattering of blood behind), and each befriends a lonely kid named Jackson who may hold the answer as to why.

Only after a ghostly visitation from their dead mamma (Shirley Jones) do the at-odds brothers agree to work together to unravel the Curse of the Bloodhead and take on the monster who's been devouring the heads of trailer park residents like Jalapeño poppers.

While the monster in Bloodhead is intentionally campy (imagine a guy in a rubber suit whose design incorporates bits of Godzilla, The Predator, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon - oh, and it flies, too), some of the scenes of it snacking on craniums are giddily amusing. But the general likability and strength of the two leads, the supporting cast of eccentric parkies, and the beautiful (and somewhat creepy) desert locale are what make Bloodhead worth checking out (ideally at a Drive-in).

Christopher Coppola described Bloodhead as his own personal Apocalypse Now, due to the myriad of problems he encountered while filming it. These included frequent heat exhaustion (it was filmed near 29 Palms, a notoriously hot stretch of California desert, in the middle of the summer), high crew turnover, and going over-budget and over-schedule. Most ironically of all, he recieved death threats from some skinheads who lived in the trailer park, because some of his cast and crew were "coloreds".

Although Coppola doesn't hide his relation to both a famous director and actor, he doesn't use it as a crutch either - nor does he need to. BLOODHEAD stands firmly on its own as a worthwhile tribute to the B movies of yesteryear, and a simple but effective denouncement of the ignorance that breeds racism. And it's pretty damn funny, too.

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originally posted: 03/22/04 06:26:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Horror Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Horror Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/31/16 CJ My dad was o e of the old dudes, he loved working on the movie, a highlife of his senior ye 4 stars
8/11/15 SJ I was the stand-in for Lynda Carter on this movie 5 stars
9/10/05 dave absolute tripe, the whole theatre was ashamed 1 stars
4/06/04 yosharto learn 2 shart! coconuts 4ever! shake ur mosquito bites!dix 1 stars
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