With Blood For Irina, writer and musi­cian turned film­mak­er Chris Alexander estab­lished a pret­ty dis­tinc­tive and some­what con­tro­ver­sial style: it was image-dri­ven, dia­logue-free, ref­er­enced the work of Jesus Franco and Jean Rollin while side­step­ping the overt sex­u­al­i­ty of those films and was made in a lo-fi, micro-bud­get style that wore its rough edges as a badge of pride. Alexander quick­ly returned to the char­ac­ter of Irina for Queen Of Blood but the result isn’t a sequel. Instead, you could call it an alter­nate-world cous­in to Blood For Irina… and its style shows that Alexander remains deter­mined to pur­sue his muse in a no-com­pro­mis­es way.

QueenOB-bluQueen Of Blood begins with Irina (Shauna) crawl­ing out of the muck of a pond. At first she is tak­en in by a woods­man (David Goodfellow), who cleans her up to pre­sum­ably make her into fron­tier wife mate­ri­al. She responds by tear­ing out his throat, the first act in a reign of ter­ror that finds her wan­der­ing the coun­tryside and killing its res­i­dents for blood. There is also a mur­der­ous preacher (Nivek Ogre) for Irina to con­tend with — and a preg­nant wid­ow (Carrie Gemmell) who Irina will have a spe­cial pur­pose for when they cross paths.

Like Blood For Irina, Queen Of Blood presents its artsi­ness to the view­er as a take-it-or-leave-it propo­si­tion. It rev­els in its own dirge-like rhythms, rough-hewn video imagery and its lack of inter­est in draw­ing in the view­er through plot or char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. The result often feels more like a video instal­la­tion piece than a fea­ture film. In fair­ness to Alexander, this defi­ance towards the acces­si­ble and com­mer­cial is delib­er­ate… but the expe­ri­ence is closed-off and not ter­ri­bly invit­ing unless you share his mind­set and inter­ests.

If you can find your way into Alexander’s web of obses­sions, there are some inter­est­ing dif­fer­ences to be not­ed between Queen Of Blood and Blood For Irina. The new film fore­goes run­down urban land­scapes in favor of a return to nature, with the new ver­sion of Irina becom­ing a force of nature that uses those around her as fuel to cre­ate her own ver­sion of the world.   Henry brings the new per­sona to life in a way that com­ple­ments the film’s style — and Alexander’s one-man-band style ensures that his style remains con­sis­tent.

QueenOB-01Ultimately, the appeal of Queen Of Blood for the indi­vid­u­al view­er will depend on how close­ly Alexander’s her­met­i­cal­ly-curat­ed set of inspi­ra­tions and fix­a­tions syncs up with their own inter­ests.

Blu-Ray Notes: This was recent­ly released to blu-ray via Severin sub­la­bel InterVision. The trans­fer does as well as it can do by mate­ri­al shot on con­sumer-grade dig­i­tal gear: col­ors are pret­ty solid through­out but detail depends on the cam­era used (some parts were shot using an iPhone) and how blown out the imagery is in the shot in ques­tion. Audio for this trans­fer is LPCM and sounds good: the sound­track con­sists most­ly of Alexander’s atmos­pher­ic orig­i­nal score and is a solid mix.

InterVision has also includ­ed a num­ber of extras on this set. The first is a solo com­men­tary by Alexander. He name-checks his influ­ences, defends/explains his lo-fi aes­thet­ic and offers plen­ti­ful pro­duc­tion tales, includ­ing descrip­tions of his gueril­la film­mak­ing tac­tics. You can also watch the movie with a brief intro from Nivek Ogre. Two alter­nate end­ings are includ­ed for the film: one that is a slight­ly longer ver­sion of the exist­ing and anoth­er that links this film to its pre­de­ces­sor. A trail­er for the film QueenOB-02sim­ply con­sists of one shot from the film, which is becom­ing a reg­u­lar Alexander pro­mo tac­tic.

Two extras offer brief behind-the-sce­nes explo­rations: “Gore Gaffes” offers just over three min­utes of com­i­cal mishaps involv­ing shots using blood and “Directing Ogre” is around five min­utes show­ing how Alexander worked with the tit­u­lar actor. That said, those moments are more inter­est­ing for how the cam­era micro­phone reveals the loose yet fast-mov­ing atmos­phere behind the cam­era. Finally, a Q&A ses­sion from the film’s Toronto film focus­es main­ly on Alexander telling pro­duc­tion tales, which give it a cer­tain amount of over­lap with his com­men­tary, but you do also get to hear his actress Shauna Henry speak, too.

The final extra is the biggest: Blood For Irina is includ­ed in full as a bonus, thus mak­ing this one-stop-shop­ping for those who want to check out Alexander’s cur­rent­ly avail­able films.