Director: Banning Lary
Cast: Mitchell Rad, Jim Brewer, Allison Lane
Synopsis: Wooster Carneal always does the right thing. But when he loses his wife, his job and his home, a desperate Wooster is extorted into harvesting human organs for the black market.
There’s a part of me that feels a little bad about stomping on a piece of work that is obviously a labour of love for some under-financed wannabe moviemaker, but sometimes a movie is so bad that it’s difficult to do anything else. I suppose AB-Negative isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it’s jostling for position in the huge pack that keeps clipping the leader’s heels. I wonder, once the post-production is complete, whether the makers of these movies sit back with an air of satisfaction at what they have produced, or a sense of despair at the realisation that they’ve somehow transformed what seemed like a great idea into an embarrassing heap of ashes.
AB-Negative’s plot sees the life of white collar everyman Wooster Carneal (Mitchell Rad) spin out of control when he learns that his alcoholic wife requires a liver transplant. His employer refuses to cover the medical costs because Carneal failed to disclose that she had undergone treatment for her alcoholism within ten years of his taking out the policy, and then fires him. The debts mount, but he’s unable to raise the cash before his wife’s liver finally calls it a day, and his downward spiral escalates as he begins drinking to cope with his depression. One day shortly after her death, he’s approached by a shady character named Bick Rabbit (Jeff DeAngelis) who knows all about Carneal’s problems and gives him his business card.
Carneal tries to pull himself together by reading Crime and Punishment in a hammock in the countryside, but is hassled by a beer-drinking lout who squashes his nose, calls him a pussy and breaks his axe. Carneal takes all this in his stride, but batters the lout to death when he begins abusing his girlfriend. He then calls Rabbit who, it transpires, is a dealer in human organs. Rabbit has a field day harvesting a list of organs — only they’re not from the beer-drinking thug, whose liver is wasted, but his possibly still-living girlfriend. Carneal now finds himself blackmailed into working for Rabbit — the hours are irregular, but the pay’s good — and finally begins to get a little job satisfaction.
Banning Lary is the man behind AB-Negative; judging by the credits he did pretty much everything behind the camera apart from the music and catering, and regardless of the quality of the movie, you have to give the guy credit for his commitment and perseverance. And in fact as a director he does show an occasional glimmer of adequacy, but there’s no discipline behind the execution of his ideas. The action is frequently broken up with montage sequences to music and it’s here that Lary does his best work. Unfortunately, his writing skills are woefully inadequate, something that’s emphasised by the fact that he tries to fill a good half hour of the film with padding, presumably to bring it up to feature length. Had Lary confined himself to a thirty minute running time he might have succeeded in at least maintaining a steady pace and producing something that was nearly watchable.
It’s not all Lary’s fault though — his cast must also share an equal portion of the blame, because there isn’t one decent performance amongst them. In fact, many of the actors would struggle to win a speaking part in an amateur dramatics production, let alone a movie. Although to be fair, even Di Caprio would struggle to deliver a decent performance given the movie’s banal dialogue. And Lary’s increasingly frequent use of naked or semi-naked females as the film progresses smacks of desperation. It’s as if he’s afraid that nobody will make it to his stupendously bad twist ending so he provides a trail of breasts to lead single, socially inadequate men to the final credits.