Mixed Blood (1985) dir. Paul Morrissey
Starring: Marilia Pera, Richard Ulacia
By Alan Bacchus
The story of two gangs – one Portuguese, the other Spanish - living in the Alphabet district of NYC and the violent drug war which causes much conflict, vengeance and death. "Mixed Blood" is certainly obscure, written and directed by Paul Morrissey, most famous for his association with Andy Worhol and the Factory.
As such "Mixed Blood" is a difficult film to penetrate to say the least, a truly bizarre experience if you compare it to traditional New York-based crime pictures. I shouldn't even try to look into Morrissey's head, but there's an awareness of the New York gangster genre and a concerted effort to subservsively lampoon the genre
Morrissey employs a group of non-actors, presumably plucked from the very streets the film takes place, and throws them in a fantastic hypereal world of violent gangland campness.
"Mixed Blood" is anchored by the only discernable real actor of the bunch Marília Pêra, a Brazilian star, who plays La Punta, matriarch of the the Portuguese gang. La Punta acts like the female Brazilian Godfather (or Godmother). Or maybe a female Fagin is more like it. La Punta is both maternal and sadistic, commanding her army of children gangmember to commit heinous acts of vengeful murder which she nags them about cleaning their dishes, making their beds and taking out the laundry.
She even implies a weird, almost incestuous relationship with her Tiago, her son. Her son played by Richard Ulacia, barely acts, giving us a stone face, unemotive male-model-like vacant stare. In fact the whole film is populated by these types of interesting faces, their acting wonky bordering on atrocious, but strangely natural to Morrissey's overall cinematic wackiness.
Early on, one of young underlings – a kid barely 13 years old gets thrown off the roof of a building. La Punta barely even reacts – a soft sigh is all we get. The reaction is a headscratcher, and so at a glance for these reasons, glance, "Mixed Blood" would seem silly and grossly out of touch with reality. The violence committed by the characters is senselessly violent and graphic, but within the context of the film's compelling contradictions the violence elevates itself to Bunuelesque surrealist comedy. And so, by the end, if you make it to the end "Mixed Blood" finds its unique and rightful place amongst its New York gangster genre brethren.
A Hilariously bad trailer: