Blood vessel. 2020.

Directed by Justin Dix.
Starring Robert Taylor, Alyssa Sutherland, Nathan Phillips, Christopher Kirby, John Lloyd Fillingham, Alex Cooke, Steve Young and Mark Diaco.


Somewhere in the North Atlantic, late 1945. A liferaft adrift at sea, and inside, the survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship: without food, water or shelter, all seems lost – until ‘as an abandoned German minesweeper drift ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival.


Does horror have enough Nazi experimentation films to fit an entire subgenre? We fought the Nazi zombies (Dead snow/Suzerain), the Nazi freakshows of Frankenstein (Frankenstein’s army), Nazi werewolves (Rob Zombie’s Women werewolves of the SS trailer), so how about some Nazi vampires? At sea? Blood vessel – dramatically titled – delivers on the promise of the German Nosferatus targeting unsuspecting WWII soldiers. Again, trapped on a boat? If you like the concept, you’ll like this movie. A period film about the horrors of war and how they can be so much worse with leeches pictured.

After the torpedoing of a hospital ship, patients and crew are left adrift in a lifeboat. Their prayers are answered when a large German minesweeper passes by and they board. There is no sign of life anywhere, just a few corpses and the Nazi gold left behind. Then a little girl is discovered, which leads to a curious question: where is her family? Turns out they’re locked up, in coffins in crates, because they’re vampires. Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water, you were right. Choppy waters are probably more reliable than the Nazi ship infested with Dracula’s brood.


It’s a movie that almost sounds like the start of a terrible punchline. “A Russian, an American and an Australian board an unmanned ship and release vampires.” It’s the motley nature of Justin Dix’s unconventional war thriller. The group of characters is made up of greedy cooks, cowardly officers, mechanics who can’t handle a gun to save their lives, all from different backgrounds. Perhaps this is a commentary on how WWII affected countless nations and even more innocent people? Or maybe it’s just a way to spice things up a bit. Either way, it works given the constant unease between factions that see themselves as threats, even when alliance is required. It’s not the most thoughtful strategy game out there, but there is a genuine attempt to always keep betrayals in play.

As for the actual content of vampires? I am a fan of full prosthetic suits, and Blood vessel doesn’t disappoint with its bat-influenced creature design. You’ll have to wait a bit before Bigelow (Mark Diaco) hunts for treasure and unleashes “The Patriarch,” but it’s worth showing off. Ten’s monsters can control which ones they bite, making them more menacing with ranged manipulation in addition to exhausting slurps. Better yet, there’s a whole family bringing home that wacky midnight vibe as these animalistic nocturnal hunters take on the hapless war heroes (and villains). You will get your bloodletting, beheading, and bloody effects if needed. For some, in shorter bursts than desired, but it must be assumed that this is due to budget restrictions and not by choice.


I’m also a fan of nautical horror, which cinematographer Sky Davies captures using popular red-filtered flood lights. Blood vessel takes place at night, but the metal hallways and outdoor patio locations are saturated with thick alarm projectors that match the Nazi colors of red and black. The cinematic framing goes to great lengths to capture the isolation and claustrophobia of drifting through open water, alone, with no rescue in sight. Add in rooms full of German deckhands who have become the cutest couple in Transylvania plus, and you have this B movie being sold anyway as such. From aerial panoramic shots that are sure to show the massive Nazi symbol on the exterior of the boat to the fierce defensive clashes lit by the same color as jets of bodily juice.

You get what you signed up for Blood vessel. I mean with positive connotations, no disappointed sarcasm. We are far from perfect, between a stifling archetypal character work and the time that passes before the action “becomes good” so to speak. That said, Justin Dix has found a way to madly harness both the trauma of military combat and eerily fascinating vampire lore with a maritime twist. Bonus points awarded for staying “for a while” and engaging in the atmosphere of the WWII era, from wardrobes to mentalities through social paranoia. War is hell, but Blood vessel takes you there on a path horror fans should savor. Another graphic example of how I would define a “Film Donato” (registered trademark).

Evaluating the Flickering Myth – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

Matt spends his hours after work posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be on the safe side (beers are allowed / encouraged). Follow him on Twitter / Instagram / Letterboxd (@DoNatoBomb).