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Blood, Guts and Sunshine. What More Could You Want From Florida Filmmaking?

Feature Presentations: Episode 45

Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on Blood, Guts and Sunshine from the Vinegar Syndrome partner label, Terror Vision.

The case artwork for Blood, Guts and Sunshine

I’m a fan of film documentaries. There’s something about taking a peek behind the curtain to see the nuts and bolts of what it takes to get a production to the silver screen. From The Exorcist documentary, Leap of Faith, to the Friday the 13th six-hour masterpiece, Crystal Lake Memories, a good look behind-the-scenes can be just as good, if not better than the film’s subject.

When Vinegar Syndrome and partner label Terror Vision announced Blood, Guts and Sunshine, a two-hour documentary tracing the history of horror in Florida filmmaking, I couldn’t have ordered the disc quickly enough. While my knowledge of Florida horror filmmaking is limited, I was excited to add additional movie history to my memory bank.

Once the disc shipped with my monthly subscription, Blood, Guts and Sunshine was the first disc that found its way into my Blu-ray player. After the end credits began to roll, I came away from the documentary with mixed feelings. The crew behind Blood, Guts and Sunshine is passionate and gathers many Florida filmmakers to discuss independent filmmaking. The people they get to chat with are passionate about the work they create, and it shows in what they discuss.

At the same time, the deep dive into historical filmmaking is limited pre-1980s. While there are some discussions about William Grefe and Herschell Gordon Lewis, the feature specifically targets more recent indie film creators. And while this isn’t necessarily bad, those who have yet to watch the documentary could be misled. The marketing mentions interviews with the likes of John Landis and Joe Dante, and while this is true, the amount of screen time these two share is minuscule.

Features-wise, the packaging comes with a slipcover featuring artwork that conveys what Blood, Guts and Sunshine is all about. The case art wrap continues that trend with another showcase of Florida horror. The reverse art houses a third design that fits the aesthetic of what the documentary looks to achieve.

Herschel Gordon Lewis outside looking at the camera.

The disc contains multiple features for those looking to extend their stay in Florida. The first is a video tour with Mike Sandlin of his physical media store, Grindhouse Video. Sandlin is a featured participant on Blood, Guts and Sunshine, and this little feature is nice, if outdated. Sandlin has since relocated his store from Tampa to Knoxville, Tennessee. Even though the Tampa store is long gone, this musically-guided tour through Grindhouse Video helps those of us far from Grindhouse Video the chance to experience his store.

The next feature is another tour, this time through Scott Tepperman’s video store. While not a store in the sense that Grindhouse Video is, Tepperman walks us through his room that is wall-to-wall physical media. Not an essential feature, but it fits with the documentary.

The next feature is a cast and crew reunion panel for the film Satan’s Children. Joel Wynkoop hosts the gathering that brings actors Rosemary Orlando, John Edwards, and David Mendoza along with crew member Bill Dudley. The group comes together and discusses how they came to find themselves in Satan’s Children and stories from the production. The reunion is pleasant, and each person contributes plenty that fans of the film should enjoy.

The last batch of features on the disc are trailers, the first being for Blood, Guts and Sunshine. The second batch is a reel showcasing around a dozen trailers for films seen throughout the documentary. The compilation isn’t an essential feature, and if you’re into the Florida grindhouse scene, you don’t need trailers to hype you up. I appreciate the inclusion, but I’m not sure many will find the urge to watch these more than once.

The slipcover artwork for Blood, Guts and Sunshine.

And there you have it! I came away from the documentary with mixed feelings. While there is a lot of detail to be had with Blood, Guts and Sunshine, there’s a feeling that the early days of Florida horror filmmaking take a back seat in favor of showcasing the current and semi-recent crop of creators. I’m all for filmmakers gaining exposure, knowing how difficult shooting a film can be, but there is a nagging feeling that I got hoodwinked. When the subtitle states: “The history of horror made in Florida,” I expected more of the early history on the docket. Maybe my expectations were too high? No matter, if you’re a fan of filmmaking documentaries or shot-on-video horror, Blood, Guts and Sunshine will shine brightly on you.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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