Why I Love: The ‘Blade’ club scene Simon Fitzjohn April 4, 2019 Editor's Choice, Features, Why I Love 9976 I think it is fair to say that when audiences sat down to take in the original Blade back in 1998, few expected anything more memorable than a 90-minute action flick that might quicken the pulse a little. I know, because I was one of them, taking in the film on one of my many jaunts to the pleasure capital that is San Diego, California (The Pacific Gaslamp Theater to be exact). Sure, I was a Wesley Snipes fan of sorts (we share the same birthday you see), but the combination of little-known comic-book character, a director (Stephen Norrington) whose only previous film was the little-seen Death Machine and a pre-release vibe that practically screamed ‘just escaped going straight to DVD’ and expectations were low. But boy were we wrong, and if ever the opening salvo of a film has hit home hard, then this is it. In fact, if someone had sneaked into said theatre and taken a snapshot of me at the denouement of the club scene, they would have found a happy cinemagoer whose goofy grin could easily have passed for Alice In Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat. So just what is it about this three-minute sequence that so floats my boat, rocks my socks off – or any other crass bit of hyperbole you can think of? Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, things get off to an interesting start with the appearance of none other than Traci Lords. Yep, that Traci Lords – the ‘famed’ porn star. While she may not exactly reach any heights as an actress, she is certainly pleasing on the eye, and lends an air of ‘high camp’ to proceedings right from the off. Lords appears as Racquel, a siren who is used to lure unsuspecting victims to their bitten-neck doom. Their doom, in this case, happens to come at a sweaty underground rave, which is where the second major plus point comes into play – the music. Getting things off hugely on the right foot we get the throbbing bass of Aphex Twin (under the guise of Polygon Window), before the club explodes with the spine-tingling Pump Panel remix of New Order’s ‘Confusion’. I defy anyone watching this not to get twitchy when those beats come on, and, if the flood of singles that sampled this track that swamped theUKcharts shortly afterwards is anything to go by, record producers felt the same. So we have a spoonful of camp, some quality tunes and a sweat-drenched rave scene that anyone who has ever set foot in a packed nightclub can relate to. Things then go up a notch when it becomes clear that this is no ordinary club, and the punters are by no means ordinary either. They are vampires you see, and as the beats pound and blood begins to flow from the ceiling sprinklers, everybody starts to get very excited. That’s all fine and dandy – except for the poor human sap who Lords has lured to his fate. Surrounded by fanged evil at all sides, his game looks up – until Blade steps in. Cue a few whispered gasps of ‘its him’ and the like as the camera lovingly pans up Snipes’ cool-as black get-up to reveal him ready for battle. Suddenly all hell breaks loose as Blade shoots, slices, dices and stakes his way through the bloodthirsty mob. What we get is a dizzying cocktail of martial arts, crowd-pleasing gore and the fantastic touch of some over-the-top sight-gags – some goon being rammed into a sprinkler to become a human fountain of sorts being a personal favourite of mine. It is truly breathless stuff, with the showdown between Donal Logue’s Quinn and Blade signalling the end of the cacophony of carnage. The audience I was with actually clapped at the end of this sequence, and although I find that one of the most mystifyingly braindead things people do in a cinema (the cast and crew are not there folks!), in this case I would happily have joined them. Blade went on to star in a further two films, as well as a TV series and an extended comics run, but I think it is fair to say that it was all pretty much downhill from this moment on.