Accursed Blood (2007): Horror Hotel

Someone call Tripadvisor! Matty checks into a real fleapit — albeit one not without its charms…

The legend of the Goldfield Hotel is a succulently spooky — if ultimately tall — tale. Supposedly Very Haunted™, the most notable spectral inhabitant of this historic building, located in the titular near ghost town of Goldfield, Nevada, is Elizabeth: the mistress of the hotel’s owner, George Wingfield, who the mining magnate tortured and killed when she fell pregnant with his illegitimate sprog. Philandering, murder, and infanticide — a macabre blend that has, alas, been debunked. Still, the story endures and it’s strong enough footing for a compelling horror flick.

ACCURSED BLOOD isn’t that.

‘A’ for effort, though: there’s an appealing sincerity to it. Accursed Blood is rot without question, but helmer Ed Winfield at least tries to fashion a serious and scary movie — and at times he almost succeeds. There’s a genuine sense of someone aiming for atmosphere, of someone attempting to frighten and unnerve. Several simple yet highly effective images — rows of crosses in the local cemetery, Elizabeth (Ashly Margaret Rae) descending the hotel’s stairs ready for the kill in the film’s slasher-tinged final stretch — caught me off guard, and the director benefits from the inherent creepiness afforded by shooting in the actual town and the Goldfield Hotel itself. The moments where Winfield allows the camera to linger are beautifully chilly, and his use of light and shadow results in a handful of decent shivers. It doesn’t work as a whole, but I applaud the ambition; the strange, kinky and impressionistic edge that occasionally cuts through the rubbish and makes you wonder what could have been had Accursed Blood’s janky script focused on creating three dimensional characters and nixed its overreliance on cheap cattle prod jolts.

Opening with a bit of pretty Nevadan scenery, Accursed Blood finds a group of suspiciously student-looking ‘professional filmmakers’ (a pre Twilight Saga’s Kellan Lutz among ‘em) converging on Goldfield in order to cobble together a ghost doc they plan to sell to the Discovery Channel. The lens flare, measured tone and ambient score hint at arty aspirations — but the writing issues; the often shapeless staging as the film crew prattle on and on and on between the set pieces; the predominantly ugly digital photography; the tacky editorial effects; and the unanimously dreadful performances (well, save for ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper in an amusing dual role, one of which involves a mighty pair of stick-on sideburns) are wholly indicative of dreck.

Flirting with a few found footage flourishes, just before the Blair Witch (1999)-inspired form exploded again post Paranormal Activity (2007), an interesting point of note is how Accursed Blood began life as the independently produced fourth instalment in the Urban Legend (1998) series. Intended as the series’ second DTV offering after Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2004) (with which it shares a couple of tonal, visual, and thematic licks), Accursed Blood was initially mounted as ‘Urban Legends: The Goldfield Murders’ when former Trimark player Barry Barnholtz acquired the franchise’s rights following a clear-out at Sony. However, Barnholtz’s plans were curtailed once Sony clocked how many DVDs Bloody Mary had shifted. Sony quickly bought back the Urban Legend rights, and ‘Urban Legends: The Goldfield Murders’ became ‘Ghosts of Goldfield’ when it hit U.S. disc via North American Pictures on 27th March 2007 and Accursed Blood when Metrodome nudged it onto U.K. shelves on 28th February 2011. 

Also known as ‘Paranormal Ghosts’ and, in Japan, the utterly shameless ‘Twilight Blood’.

USA ● 2007 ● Horror ● 83mins

Kellan Lutz, Marnette Peterson, Ashly Margaret Rae, and Roddy Piper ● Dir. Ed Winfield Wri. Dominic Biondi, from a story by Brian O. McMahon

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