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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #268  (Vol. 6, No. 19)  This edition is for the week of May 9--15, 2005.

Florida Indie Film Review: "Light of Blood"....I Win First Place Landscape Design Award
 by William Moriaty
"Kicking and Screaming"
 by Mike Smith
"Kingdom of Heaven"...Rann-Thanagar War
 by John Lewis
U.S. Airogance....Famous Monsters Update
 by Matt Drinnenberg
An Army of One....Superheroes Unite....Passing On....Jaws: The Story, Part 18
 by Mike Smith
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Florida Independent Movie Review:
"Light of Blood" (2005)
B&W and Color Video
Run Time: 87 minutes
Perez Productions
Written by: Gustavo Perez
Original Score: John Matheny
Additional Musical Score: Carlos Picart Y Su Grupo Sensacion
Associate Director: Mark A. Nash
Editor: John Matheny
Director: Gustavo Perez

Gustavo Perez
: Tony Luna
Michael Chomick: Colonel Julio Ramos
Mark A. Nash: Cr. Rashidov
Rebecca Marie Holycross: Dr. Katia Schmit
Josey Heston: Dr. Nicola Barishna
Laura Martin: Anna
Joel D. Wynkoop: Fritz/CIA Agent
Ray Nelson: Dr. Cruz
David Vogel: Detective Garcia
Laura Kennedy: Inga Bauer

William Insignares
: Manuel/Detective
Danny Rivera: Louis
Peter Melendez: The Sargeant
Ivan Ilerraza: The Priest
Sam Battle: Prisoner/CIA Agent

Parts of this video were filmed on location on the island nation of Cuba

Florida Folk-hero and Tampa-based film actor Gustavo Perez has been the subject of previous articles concerning Florida indies films in this column on several occasions (La Floridiana, PCRs #100, #127, and #208).

Now Mr. Perez has taken the step from actor to producer, director, and writer of his own full-length feature film, "Light of Blood". In a nutshell, the movie centers around the injection of a secret serum into the veins of one of Fidel Castro's elite guards named Tony Luna (Gustavo Perez) in what could be called a botched "super-soldier" experiment.

If you can survive the at times abysmal sound quality, failed attempts at perfecting Russian (and in some instances, Cuban) accents and overlook some key continuity gaffes, Mr. Perez has actually put together a somewhat enjoyable and well-paced low-budget flick. For a one-man production on a shoestring, Mr. Perez assembled no less than 44 actors, nine camera operators, four props personnel and two stuntmen in the making of this tropicales lobos movie.

The Arrival:
The opening scene of the movie starts with a salsa score by John Matheny as the camera pans to shots of downtown Habana, the Morro Castle, Habana Harbor and other notable (and genuine) Cuban locales. A commercial jetliner is seen pilling into the Habana airport. In it are two Russian scientists and their maid who are then whisked off to a top-secret military installation somewhere on this Caribbean island nation.

The Introduction:
The Russian scientists Dr. Katia Schmit (Rebecca Marie Holycross) and Dr. Nicola Barishna (Josey Heston) are introduced to the installation's lead commanders Cuban Colonel Julio Ramos (Michael Chomick) and Russian Dr. Rashidov (Mark A. Nash). The four are intent on taking a strength serum previously used on primates, a step further.

The Seduction:
Not long after Colonel Ramos and Dr. Schmit engage in several months of snuggle bunnies, Dr. Schmit and Castro elite guardsman Tony Luna exchange glances. Before you can say "revolucion!" Schmit and Luna have several trysts, resulting in Luna being captured at a Habana park frighteningly similar in appearance to Tampa's Ballast Point Park.

The Injection:
Dr. Barishna gives Tony an ultimatum based on Colonel Ramos's less than positive response to Luna's and his wife's behavior - - either death by firing squad, or injection of the experimental strength serum. After about two seconds of thinking it over, Luna chooses the needle over the bullet.

The Transformation:
Initially Luna feels great after the injection of the serum - - he feels stronger and exhibits greater endurance than ever before. But later that evening, strapped onto a gurney, Luna finds himself being transformed into a werewolf!

A Tag Team Relation:
After busting through the gurney's straps and running amok through the dark streets of Habana, Luna returns to the top secret installation to be met by his super soldier counterpart "Fritz", played by Florida Folk-hero and noted indies actor Joel D. Wynkoop. As always, Wynkoop turns in a memorable performance, particularly when his character is faced with his own inoculation of the strengthening serum, which makes him proclaim…

"I hate da dok-tahs! Where ees Tony?! Ooohhh --- choc-oh-laht dok-tah! I like you too choc-oh-laht dok-tah! Freetz like you! Tony" Where ees Tony?! I don't like dees! Do not!" Fritz then gets the shot and announces to the world... "Freetz feels different! Freetz feels strong! Freetz feels power! Freetz feels goot! Freetz feels….STRONG!"

The Mission:
So what is the intent of the super soldier program in the first place? We find out when Luna and "Freetz" meet dockside at a Habana location frighteningly similar in appearance to the dock at Lake Robinson in Tampa. Luna states, "We are going to swim ninety miles and then go up here and attack Miami!" As if Miami don't have enough problems already!

The Consequences:
But Fritz and Luna's mission doesn't go as planned (the hardest to watch portion of the movie may well be the scenes of Luna and Fritz in training - - it is not recommended for the faint-hearted). As a matter of fact, things go dreadfully wrong as Luna, in his werewolf incarnation, begins a murderous rampage terrorizing the local citizenry of Habana. Even the best efforts of Detective Garcia (David Vogel) to apprehend and subdue the "experiment on two legs" cannot prevail.

What will it take to stop Luna from claiming another victim?

You can find out the answer by attending the premiere screening of "Light of Blood" on Thursday June 9, 2005 at the Romeo Coffeehouse, 1515 E. 7th Street at Ybor City in Tampa!

Favorite lines:
First female victim: "What are you?!!!"
Luna: "I am a NIGHTMARE!"
First female victim: "What do you want?!!!"
Luna: "I want what you GOT!"

First homeless man victim: "What the Hell?!!!!"
Luna spitting out water: "You are DRUNK! I am an apparition! You see NOTHING!"

Luna to floozy: "It's not everyday that you get a chance with a super soldier!" (How on earth did this floozy manage to walk into a top-secret training compound?)
Fritz rolls eyes and exclaims: "The girl, she ees nothing butta TROUBLE!"

Best Close Up Shots...
...go to those of David Vogel who plays Detective Garcia ("Goo Lor!" he sounds more like the Henny Youngman of Habana than an "autentico" Cuban gumshoe!)

Best Death Scenes:
Are tied between the floozy played by Robyn Rose slumping down the side of her car after Luna devours her neck, and the murder by Luna of Russian scientist Dr. Barishna. (My vote goes to the young female scientist who gets attacked by Luna in the room with the large glass window---her screams are alarmingly real! --Nolan)

Best Make-Up:
In addition to the werewolf, the torn left side of the Sergeant's (Peter Melendez) face was exceptionally well done. Poor Peter Melendez, he gets beat up in every scene he's in!

"Goo Lor!"

Author Wins First Place Landscape Design Award
I am pleased to announce that I won, on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation, First Place in the Florida Native Plant Society's 2005 Design With Natives in the Mitigation category. The winning work is for the Department's "District Seven Outdoor Advertising Mitigation Tree Planting Projects" that occurred between 1995 to the present. In this program, I collected over a quarter of million dollars from the billboard industry in order for them to mitigate for the removal of trees screening visibility of their signs from the highway and planted over 16,000 trees at 33 locations. The Award will be presented at the Florida Native Plant Society's Annual Convention on Saturday May 14, 2005 in Melbourne.

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.