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.