In "Mixed Blood," Paul Morrissey's blunderbuss black comedy, a Brazilian drug ring composed mostly of 14-year-olds, led by Rita La Punta (Marilia Pera), struggles to advance itself in the underworld of New York's Lower East Side -- known as "the Alphabet," in homage to Avenues A, B, C and D.
This battle for market share leads to nastiness on all sides, which distills itself into a grudge match between Rita's moronic son Thiago (Richard Ulacia) and Juan "the Bullet" (Angel David), vicious leader of the Master Dancers. The warfare disturbs the police, who are on the take, as well as the cocaine and heroin wholesalers, such as "the German" (Ulrich Berr), who would prefer business as usual. On the other hand, it excites Carol (Linda Kerridge), a Connecticut debutante-turned-demimondaine, who leaves "the German" for the sullen, inarticulate Thiago.
"Mixed Blood" is an avant-garde bore in the guise of a cheap exploitation thriller, and ends up doubly boring and doubly cheap. The comedy is cloddish, and seems to consist mostly of the characters' imperturbability in the face of mayhem. They're supposed to be outraged, but they're not; we, in turn, are supposed to find this gloriously outrageous. Ho hum.
You wouldn't have to be a dues-paying member of the Coalition Against Television Violence to find something disturbing in Morrissey's use of violence. We watch an X being carved in someone's stomach, cigarettes stubbed out in another unfortunate's chest and dozens of shootings; the violence is graphically realistic, but nothing else in "Mixed Blood" is realistic in the least. Violence of this kind has to be earned, through the creation of a resonant milieu, but "Mixed Blood" never looks like anything besides Paul Morrissey's home movies.
Some may find the movie's fluctuations in tone daringly hip, but they just seem aimless. And the acting is, without exception, execrable. It's as if Morrissey were sitting behind the camera with a megaphone, shouting, "Woodier! More wooden!"
Mixed Blood, opening today at the Inner Circle, is unrated and contains considerable profanity and graphic violence.