Featured Image

Vampires, the mythical beings that exist between the living and the dead, serve as versatile and useful metaphors for examining the puzzling concerns of life. Themes of dysfunctional families, suppressed sexuality, and addiction course through the veins of many vampiric narratives. Perhaps because they exist in the liminal space between the two spheres of existence, they offer a powerful filter that audiences can use to examine the travails of humanity. Blood Covered Chocolate, Monte Light’s second feature film, ambitiously touches on these issues and more with a stylish vampire movie that harks back to niche films of the genre’s past.

Blood Covered Chocolate opens with small-time criminal and hard-core drug addict, Massimo (Michael Klug), celebrating his first year of sobriety with his sober girlfriend Tien (Christine Nguyen). After making love, they have a playful discussion comparing Eastern folklore and legends and well-known Western fairytales. The penanggalan, a bodyless, flying head whose heart, lungs and intestines dangling underneath that feeds on blood and unborn children,  intrigues Massimo.

After an awkward dinner with Massimo’s mother (Debra Lamb) and crude, controlling stepfather, Crate (Joe Altieri), an older Asian woman (Jamie Tran) visits him and transforms into a penanggalan. She attacks him, biting him in the neck. As he transforms from mortal to immortal vampire, he goes on a hallucinatory, bloody journey of self-discovery where his past, his addiction, and his love for his girlfriend fight for control of him.

Blood Covered Chocolate

This movie has much to offer to vampire fans. Foremost, there is a significant amount of respect for the films that came before. The press material calls Blood Covered Chocolate a “black-and-white horror homage to the classic Nosferatu.”  The movie’s reverence for the past goes much deeper than the 100-year-old great-grandfather of vampire films.  There are several callbacks to older, more obscure movies. Some of these include footage from the Indonesian witchcraft-themed oddity Mystics in Bali, the use of color schemes reminiscent of the even older, Filipino film The Blood Drinkers, and vampire girl Sophia (Meghan Deanna Kingsley) sports enormous fangs similar to Isolde’s in Jean Rollin’s Shiver of Vampires.  These are some serious deep cuts!

Bookended by themes of addiction and recovery, Blood Covered Chocolate morphs into an exploration of dysfunctional families, a search for one’s own identity, codependency, and mental illness, all through the lens of vampirism. All of this during a short, 82 minute runtime.  Powerful performances by a cast of talented but relatively unknown actors take the story through its many twists as Massimo’s psyche comes apart.  The engaging story, unique photography, and obvious love for the genre in the competent hands of writer and director Monte Light make it a treat for audiences.

Blood Covered Chocolate begins streaming worldwide on April 7th.

More Film Reviews