Summer of Blood is the best—and most likely only—Brooklyn vampire movie since Wes Craven’s 1995 Eddie Murphy vehicle Vampire in Brooklyn. Director-writer-star-Turkish Zach Galifianakis, Onur Tukel, pays tribute to the horror movie trope while completely upending it with the hipster sensibility so commonly associated with the borough. The film is infused with a Woody Allen wit that’s at times hilarious. Tukel plays a neurotic schlub named Erik who lives somewhere in either Greenpoint or Williamsburg, eats at cool outdoor restaurants and dates impossibly attractive women who seem a bit out of reach for his short, chubby, hairy, dickish persona (the movie’s title has been abbreviated as “S.O.B.” on posters for good reason).
As he walks through Brooklyn one night, having just turned down his beautiful girlfriend’s marriage proposal, Erik stumbles upon a vampire’s victim. He nervously banters to the man while he bleeds out, a perfect Seinfeld-ian moment of utterly comedic self-absorption. Erik is a character you love to cringe at, but Tukel doesn’t overplay his neuroses and misanthropic tendencies.
Erik’s ex rebounds with a Wall Street frat boy, while he embarks upon a series of disastrous online encounters. Things improve quickly after he becomes a vampire, apathetically allowing himself to be bitten by a pasty vamp named Gavin (Dustin Guy). Erik never quite takes to the lifestyle, though. He still ponders trivial things like whether or not his victims have families, a formality at which more experienced creatures of the night scoff. Erik learns some interesting facts along the way—John Lennon and former Enron CEO Ken Lay are vampires and not actually deceased; notorious dictator Pol Pot is really dead and gone (thankfully so, Erik remarks).
Summer of Blood hits all the right notes. The horror elements are suitably gory and the humor is abundant and never strained. There’s some appropriately meta dialogue sprinkled in about being a filmmaker and starring in your own movie full of white people, but nothing that reeks too much of self-referential indie clichés. If you’re in the mood for a horror movie in which vampires complain about the humidity and blame rampant back acne for the blood all over their clothes, this one’s a winner.
Director: Onur Tukel
Writer: Onur Tukel
Starring: Onur Tukel, Dakota Goldhor, Anna Margaret Hollyman
Release Date: Oct. 17, 2014
Jonah Flicker lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. and writes about travel, movies, music, food, drink and Iceland for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.