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Addicted to Murder 2: Tainted Blood   B

Brimstone Productions

Year Released: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Kevin J. Lindenmuth
Writer: Kevin J. Lindenmuth
Cast: Sasha Graham, Sarah K. Lippmann, Mick McCleery, Robbi Firestone, Ted Grayson, Joe Moretti, Tom Nondorf.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Addicted to Murder 2: Tainted Blood ditches the disturbing tone of the original and opts for a faster pace, a better narrative structure, and a quirky sense of humor -- something the first film didn't even have a hint of. And since we don't spend the entire movie with that sad-sack serial killer Joel Winter (Mick McCleery), this time around it's a lot more fun.

Most of Tainted Blood takes place before the events in Addicted to Murder, making it a prequel of sorts. When we first see Joel again, it's not too long after his first vampire love Rachel has abandoned him. He packs up his stuff and high-tails it out of his Michigan hometown, hoping to find another girl like Rachel somewhere out there. Meanwhile, there are problems in the vampire community. Rachel has begun bestowing "the gift" upon people who aren't really worthy, and her sister Angie (Sasha Graham) must try to put an end to it. Fans of the original will get new insight into the lives of Joel and Angie before they met, but you'll also be introduced to some interesting new characters as well.

Among the new faces is a novice vampire named Tricia (Sarah K. Lippmann), just a nice girl looking for love in New York City. In a witty bit of dark humor, she places a singles ad in the newspaper, but still can't find a love connection. One dating disaster ends with the guy upset because she bit him. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," she says. Tricia denies her bloodthirsty cravings at first, but she'll eventually have to give in to her animalistic urges. Sarah K. Lippmann is wonderful in the role, and I'd like to see more from her in the future.

We also meet a bloodsucker with a bad attitude named Jonathan (Ted Grayson), who Angie enlists to watch over Tricia and make sure she doesn't leave too many trails of blood behind. Ah, the trials and tribulations of being one of the undead.

Technically, Addicted to Murder 2: Tainted Blood is a real improvement over the first, since the sound and image quality are a lot cleaner. Director Kevin Lindenmuth's distinct visual style still shines through, as he continues to add nifty stylistic flourishes to accent the mood -- like bathing some scenes in lush red light.

Some may argue that the film lacks focus, but I liked the way it managed to examine a varied cast of characters and still remain tight and compact. Like the first film, it has documentary-style interviews inserted throughout (including one with a vampire hunter played by Ted V. Mikels, director of such cult classics as The Corpse Grinders and Astro Zombies), but they aren't quite as intrusive as they were the first time around. Some of the special effects are a bit cheesy, but that's part of its micro-budget charm. Addicted to Murder 2 is a dark, clever, and amusing horror film that actually breathes some fresh life into the vampire subgenre.

Review published 06.09.2000.

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