If Woody Allen made a vampire flick, it might resemble Summer of Blood. Writer-director-actor Onur Tukel’s horror-comedy is a fresh satire on the vampire mythos, one that uses absurd situations to explore very human fears like commitment and urban life. Without an ounce of the pretentiousness so often found in indie comedies, Tukel has crafted a sincerely hilarious film that’s not without its fair share of gore and sex. Mad, tantric vampire sex, that is. Pardon my hyperbole, but Summer of Blood is simply one of the best and most honest horror-comedies in years.
Self-centered Brooklynite Eric (Tukel) has a problem with commitment. When his girlfriend of three years proposes to him, he delivers a misguided dialogue about post-modern feminism, then awkwardly declines. The next day he’s trolling an internet dating service in his desperate longing to get laid. Eric even has the stones to take his dates to the very restaurant where his girlfriend popped the question – how’s that for class? When they’re turned off by his narcissism or his lack of prowess in the bedroom (or both), it’s on to the next chick.
That is until the night Eric is bitten by a vampire, transforming him into a blood-sucking creature of the night. Well, sorta. He’s still the same self-involved slob he always was, but now he gets to indulge his hedonism to a greater degree. Vampirism turns Eric into a tireless sex machine who can control minds and vaginas alike. The only thing still holding sway over him are his jealous feelings over his old flame’s new (better looking, more charming and successful) boyfriend.
Eric is a dick, but he’s a terribly relatable one as well. While nearly everything that comes out of his mouth is ridiculous, I couldn’t help but sympathize with many of his feelings. Throughout all of this, Onur Tukel flexes some finely-tuned wit and comedic timing. A few scenes, like when his landlord comes looking for rent, had me in tears. It’s a very natural and honest performance as well. Tukel really puts himself out there, presenting all of his paranoid fears about society, urban life, and relationships – relentlessly making fun of himself in the process. In between bouts of biting people’s throats off, of course.
The vampire elements of Summer of Blood are pretty simple and follow most of the traditional stuff like aversion to sunlight and having to feed to stay alive. Tukel puts his own unique spin on them, however, leading to a wholly refreshing take on the genre. Eric’s fear of commitment actually bleeds into his vampirism, which I found to be fucking brilliant. For instance, what happens if you bite your lover, transforming her into an immortal being? Hell, that means you’re stuck with that person for eternity? It’s a tough decision, especially for a goof like Eric.
The film may address some painfully real issues, but Summer of Blood never lets go of its comedic core. From beginning to end it’s an absolute blast that dishes out equal parts wit, vulgarity, and amazing one-liners. The horror-comedy is a tricky cross-genre to pull off, but I can honestly say that Summer of Blood just may be the best example since Tucker and Dale.
The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and here’s hoping it’s available to a wide audience sooner than later.
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