Film

Onur Tukel’s a Hilarious Chatterbox Vamp in Summer of Blood

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The tasteful white-on-black title text suggests that this motor-mouthed vampire-in-Brooklyn comedy is meant to suggest the best of Woody Allen, and writer/director/star Onur Tukel’s unrelenting comic patter confirms it. But Tukel knows something Allen didn’t: that the supremely self-involved lover/chatterbox frumping through Allen’s films was always a bit of a monster.

So Tukel gives us Eric, a furry schlump in stained business-casual, his cocksure smirk hidden behind a gray tumbleweed of beard. He’s a creep who thinks he’s Alvy Singer. In the first scene, he rejects a marriage proposal from his gorgeous lawyer girlfriend (Anna Margaret Hollyman), telling her, once the conversation has turned to her mother’s wish that the two break up, “I hate your mom anyway. In a playful way I hate her. I mean, if she died tomorrow I wouldn’t be that upset or sad — I mean, I’d be sad because you were sad.” And he goes on like that, for the whole movie, the words spilling from his mouth like that silverware Harpo steals in Animal Crackers — just when you think he’s done, more drops out. He’ll say the wrong thing, giggle to himself, half taking it back, and then spew something worse, all with the breezy certainty that it’s everyone else who is loathsome. Seconds after fantasizing about her mother’s death, Eric adds, “Babies are worthless anyway.”

At all moments he mutters brain-addled comedy, much of it barbed and hilarious, not because the words themselves are funny — it’s his conviction that they are. Eric weaves his asides over, under, around, and through everyone else’s lines, and everyone else glares at him like he’s the world’s biggest prick. He might be — after he’s bitten by a vampire, that girlfriend, now an ex, demands he bite her, too, and give her his power and immortality. He reacts just like he did when she proposed.

Unlike Allen’s Alvy, hyper-verbal Eric actually doesn’t have much of a way with words, and he’s absolutely not an aesthete. His idea of an insult is to accuse another man of not knowing the song “All You Need Is Love”: “You know who the Beatles were, don’t you, butthole?” Tukel allows a delicious, confident pause before that butthole, as if the put-down is so powerful he needs to leave a break for applause. Then the butthole itself pops out with hilarious finality, as if he were saying Q.E.D. When the man he’s upbraiding says something about opening a can of whoop-ass, Eric’s nonsense becomes straight-up Popeye-talk: “I’ll drink a six-pack of whoop-ass for breakfast. I’ll drink a keg. In fact, I was thinking of opening a whole brewery…”

On and on it goes. There is a plot: Eric becomes a vampire, learns to mesmerize people, and stages undead threesomes that devolve into debates about misogyny. Eventually he shows up blood-soaked to the job where all he ever does is masturbate to a stolen photo of co-worker Penelope (Dakota Goldhor). “You look like Godzilla used your shirt as a maxi-pad,” his boss tells him, and Eric, for once not the aggressor, responds that such an insult must constitute sexual harassment.

Any 30 minutes of Summer of Blood might have me in hysterics. But the sputtering torrent of Eric’s yakking proves wearying over 90: Dude’s built for speed-dating. Sometimes, the talk actually shocks. After Eric becomes a vampire, and begins bedding the women who rejected him after his breakup, blood soaks his bedsheets. His landlord asks what the deal is. “I have terrible back acne,” he says. “When I lay down to sleep, it’s like bubble-wrap — pop, pop, pop.” Right there this on-the-cheap indie comedy bests any current horror flick in terms of gory gross-out. It also trumps all current comedies in say-anything brio. Best way to watch it: Roll with it for a while, do something else, come back later, laugh a lot, wince some, shake your head, do something else, wonder at what this guy will get up to next.

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