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  Blood and Concrete Zane As It Ever Was
Year: 1991
Director: Jeffrey Reiner
Stars: Billy Zane, Jennifer Beals, Darren McGavin, James LeGros, Mark Pellegrino, Nicholas Worth, Harry Shearer, Steve Freedman, Billy Bastiani, Patrick Cupo, Patrick O'Bryan, Tracy Coley, Ellen Albertini Dow, Lyvingston Holmes
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Joey Turks (Billy Zane) climbs out of a window in Los Angeles carrying a television set and tries to get it to his car, but unfortunately the owner, Mort (Billy Bastiani), arrives just at that moment and begins making a scene, swearing profusely as he chases Joey around the vehicle and pulling a knife on him. Tiring, the would-be thief tells him that Mort owes him money so he is justified in taking the set, but his debtor will hear nothing of this and stabs him in the arm for dropping the TV in a fit of pique. Joey makes a run for it, leaving the attacker standing in the middle of a residential street yelling his head off, but the wound is pretty deep and soon he is woozily stumbling around towards a graveyard - and a fateful encounter.

If you want a look at what indie thrillers in the United States looked like before Quentin Tarantino arrived with Reservoir Dogs in 1992, then Blood and Concrete was about as 1991 as it was possible to get in the field with its over the top characters and profanity-laced dialogue - no, wait, things really were more different than that. Some have pointed to the influence of Alex Cox's Repo Man on this kind of crime comedy, and it's true enough that there were plenty - quite a few, at any rate - which aimed to tap into that market for films on the edge, a cult audience which had emerged in the midnight movies of the nineteen-seventies and was a force to be reckoned with by the eighties.

By the nineties, cult movies were a recognised brand of film, and many were creating product specifically for that audience, which for some went against the whole spirit of the viewer having their own personal discoveries which they would then share with their friends, building that cult through word of mouth or some kind of "jungle telegraph" equivalent. However, just as many efforts fell through the cracks as those that succeeded in making a name, in fact probably more failed than hit their targets, which was why in the following decades there were so many identikit, ready made for that audience flicks which adhered to a very slender frame of reference: Cockney geezers after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, all those zombies after Shaun of the Dead, and so on.

Therefore to look back at this little item is to look back on a different world, and if it's not part of the canon of unofficial/official nostalgic nineties movies then that was down to its obscurity. Most people who watched this saw it on video back in that decade, as it did hang around the shelves of the video rental stores for that last chance at hiring anything vaguely interesting-sounding closing time gambit well known to anyone who was feeling starved of entertainment one night but had enough cash to take out a video for the evening. As far as that went, Blood and Concrete was ideal viewing, especially late in the day as its wiseacre punk aesthetic was perfect for chuckling along with accompanied by the beverage of your choice, and there were the requisite familiar faces to make you feel as if you weren't watching some no hoper.

The plot saw Zane's hapless Joey meet up with Jennifer Beals' suicidal singer Mona, and before he knows it he is at her apartment, patched up and seduced by the unlucky in love chanteuse (Beals did her own trilling too, however briefly). His main problem is that gangster Nicholas Worth wants to get back a batch of supposedly addictive aphrodisiac pills that have been doing the rounds, and dispatches his gunsel Mark Pellegrino (in danger of stealing the movie with his antics) to get the pills from Joey, the trouble being he has no idea where they are. With Mort shot dead in his swimming pool, his cop nemesis Darren McGavin is on his trail as well, and as if that were not complicated enough Mona's obnoxious thrash metal frontman boyfriend James LeGros is added to the mix. Somehow director Jeffrey Reiner (who went on successfully to TV) and his co-writer Richard LaBrie (usually an editor - on this, too) keep a haphazard plot in the air with a slapdash sense of humorous chaos; it was consistently inconsistent, so to speak, which suited the style. Not bad. Music by Vinny Golia.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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