Blood in the Face

1991, 78 min. Directed by Gianni Amelio. Starring Gian Maria Volante, Ennio Fantastichini, Renzo Giovampietro, Renato Carpentieri.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 21, 1991

Without a zombie in sight, this is the best horror film in years. Co-directors Anne Bohlen (Roger & Me), Kevin Rafferty (director of The Atomic Cafe) and James Ridgeway (D.C. columnist for the Village Voice) have taken their cameras deep into the black heart of professional racism in America. Blood in the Face chronicles the truly bizarre goings-on during a weekend gathering at pastor Bob Miles' farm in Cohoctah, Michigan -- just a Molotov's throw away from Michael Moore's infamous hometown of Flint (the perpetually rotund Moore makes a cameo here, grilling a vivacious young Nazi-ette). The directors have wisely chosen to stay out of the picture, and more or less give the white-separatists a good ten-to-twenty miles of hemp to hang themselves with. Listening to these people talk about the warm fuzzies they derive from their single-minded unity is creepy enough, but when they start shooting out facts and figures seemingly made up on the spot (did you know, for example, that there are 35,000 Viet Cong hiding in the wilds of British Columbia? Boy, was I surprised!), it's hard to keep from laughing out loud. And then they go and murder people like Denver DJ, Alan Berg. When they're not busy hating, though, most of these folks appear to be as normal as the guy next door. They rally 'round the picnic tables, get married (under burning Klan crosses, sure, but still…), play with their kids and their dogs, etc. To paraphrase Kevin Rafferty, it's positively “spooky” how average these men and women seem when they're keeping their mouths shut, and that's the genius of this documentary: no one is ever quite what they seem in the twisted realm of American fascism, and that's a lesson we'd all do well to acknowledge.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Marc Savlov
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
Welcome back, Mister Wick: Everyone's favorite merciless killer gets more human and more intriguing

May 17, 2019

Carmine Street Guitars
Spend time with the quiet artisans who make the instruments that rock & roll is built upon

May 10, 2019


Blood in the Face, Gianni Amelio, Gian Maria Volante, Ennio Fantastichini, Renzo Giovampietro, Renato Carpentieri

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle