When you read a plot synopsis for “Brotherhood of Blood”, you might well find it somewhat familiar. Doubly so if you’re an enthusiastic John Carpenter fan like myself who’s acquainted with the source material.
See, when I read a synopsis – which basically states, a group of vampire hunters must penetrate a hive of the undead in order to rescue one of their own–it wasn’t hard for me to note a similarity or two between that line and John Carpenter’s Vampires, loosely based on the Steakley novel Vampire$.
It had always irritated me that Carpenter didn’t use the dollar sign in his title the way Steakley did, but then it’s not like the rest of the movie bore much resemblance to the book anyway.
And though there are plenty of similarities, there are also a pretty sizable number of differences. In fact, for those of you who watch this and think, wow, the whole Vlad Kossei thing sounds a LOT like Keyser Soze, you’re not alone. Yes, I too couldn’t watch Brotherhood of Blood without thinking about The Usual Suspects.
Sadly, few of these differences are for the better. Where Vampires was a frenetic, high-speed blood-soaked romp, Brotherhood of Blood is thin, slow and overly chatty. Ken Foree spends most of his scenes tied to a table. And normally vibrant and vicious heavy-extraordinaire Sid Haig is downright anemic in this one, forced to deliver half-baked rants and occasionally beg for his life to unseen forces.
In fact, anemic in general is a great way to describe Brotherhood of Blood. Lacking in both style and substance, it watches like something brought in to round out a menu, something not necessarily awful but certainly nothing great. This is doubly sad being as this is a part of the new Sam Raimi / Ghost House Underground connection–frankly, it’s almost, but not quite, insulting.
The connection between this and The Usual Suspects is clear and deliberate, as is evidenced by the ending. The ending is almost the exact same as that of Usual Suspects, right down to the last-minute realization. Okay, we GET IT…it’s the all-vampire production of The Usual Suspects. Can they bludgeon us any harder with this concept?
The special features include a commentary track, audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, cast interviews, a behind the scenes featurette, a storyboard to screen comparison, and trailers for Brotherhood of Blood, Dance of the Dead, No Man’s Land: The Rise of Reeker, The Substitute, Dark Floors, Trackman, Room 205, and The Last House in the Woods.
All in all, Brotherhood of Blood is a slow, anemic mess that’s thin on plot and weak in sauce. The continual subreferences to The Usual Suspects certainly don’t help it any, leaving it a yawn from beyond the grave.