Bloodrunners Blu-ray Review

Vampire gangsters battle corrupt cops in this Prohibition-era thriller

It’s been a long, strange journey for the rapper and actor known as Ice-T. First known as a gangsta rapper back in the 1980s, Ice-T transitioned into an acting career with roles on Law & Order: SVU and other projects like New Jack City. He ultimately blossomed into a reality TV star with his wife Coco. Now he gets to ham it up as a tough-as-nails vampire in this Prohibition-era crime flick. Cops on the take come across vampires bootlegging blood.

Dan Lantz’s Bloodrunners is a fun b-movie exploring vampire gangsters bootlegging blood under the noses of corrupt cops in New Jersey. The low-budget movie is surprisingly enjoyable, placing vampires in 1933 America with Prohibition as the law of the land.

Prohibition itself has proved profitable for corrupt cops like Jack Malone (Michael McFadden), willing to look the other way when it comes to booze and vice. He’s a senior officer in the small town of Southampton, New Jersey. When Malone discovers a new speakeasy is bootlegging more than alcohol, the situation becomes heated between the police and vampires led by Chesterfield (Ice-T). The bodies start piling up as the vampires protect their bloodrunning operation.

Caught up in the conflict are Willie and Anna, two teen sweethearts. Jack leans on Willie, a busboy at Chesterfield’s speakeasy. Soon both their lives will be threatened as Willie must pick sides in this war between cops and vampires.

Remove the vampires and it would play as a straight crime thriller set in the period

Bloodrunners tries its best avoiding campy action, going for a more serious tone. Remove the vampires and it would play as a straight crime thriller set in the period. The movie even attempts major character development, slowly revealing Jack Malone’s traumatic past in World War I. For a b-movie with shoddy effects about vampires bootlegging blood, Bloodrunners approaches its drama and characters with respect.

For straight-to-video fare, Bloodrunners punches above its low-budget origins. The production design is quite evocative of 1933, down to the tiny speakeasy owned by Chesterfield. The performances in it are fine as leads Ice-T and Michael McFadden carry the action. It’s a gritty, violent smorgasbord of vampire mayhem, set in an era one normally doesn’t associate with the vile creatures. Playboy model Tammy Jean also makes an appearance, playing a prostitute that ends up naked in bed with one of the vampires.

Bloodrunners won’t change anyone’s world. It features straightforward storytelling made entertaining with decent performances of mostly compelling characters. Genre fans should check it out.

Video

The 2016 independent production is put out by Speakeasy Pictures. Outside of a few shoddy interiors, Bloodrunners has fairly strong digital video quality that maintains sharp definition and crisp clarity. The cinematography shows some level of refinement and consistency, which can be rare in this type of low-budget b-movie. The 95-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. It is presented at 1080P resolution in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Despite solid AVC parameters, stray compression artifacts are visible in select scenes. The clean video compresses well most of the time, going astray in a few darker shots with poorer exposure. Some unusual horizontal banding is noticeable, possibly a remnant of the cameras used.

The contrast offers rich, subtle saturation while still retaining Bloodrunner’s period aesthetic. That helps show off the fine production design, which turns out more convincing than it has any right being. Close-ups exhibit appreciable fine detail, the unfiltered presentation glows with striking clarity and depth. While the picture quality isn’t as refined as a Hollywood production, the digital video works well for Bloodrunners.

Audio

Bloodrunners is heard with an adequate 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack at 448 kbps. It’s mastered rather quietly with a subdued surround mix, driven by intelligible dialogue. Only a few scenes expand the audio with a big soundstage and presence. The crime thriller has its action scenes but the milder drama dominates much of the running time.

Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Dan Lantz and Michael McFadden come on board for an engaging commentary. It’s nice to hear their thoughts on the production. Aspiring filmmakers will pick up tips from Lantz as he explains the compromises of low-budget filmmaking. A DVD of the movie is also included in this Blu-ray package.

Bloodrunners Trailer (01:58 in HD)

Gag Reel (04:45 in HD) – A series of bloopers by the actors in failed takes.

Deleted Scenes – Three deleted scenes, all in HD, are included. An alternate opening scene is probably the most interesting.

Extended Scenes – Two scenes in HD work as extensions of material that originally made the final cut.

Filmmaker Commentary – Director Dan Lantz and Michael McFadden appear on this comfortable commentary. It’s a good one as Lantz goes over production details.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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