March 11, 2019  (Web Review)

Bloodlines: The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia

(2018) 91 min. DVD: $24.95. Music Video Distributors (avail. from most distributors). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

“I guess suffering is what I was meant to do,” says the artist Vincent Castiglia in this dark but sincere documentary about a man whose primary medium is his own blood. But there’s no trace of self-pity in that assessment by Castiglia, who considers the many horrors of his childhood and later drug use to be a perverse muse. Castiglia believes he was led intuitively to create visual representations of the madness and abuse that he endured as the child of a schizophrenic mother, as well as his own off-and-on psychotic breaks. A figure whose vulnerability shows through his physically imposing, heavily-tattooed presence, Castiglia describes the psychological bridge between his bleak formative experiences and his stunning, expressive images of life intertwined with death. Once Castiglia starts explaining what it means to paint with his blood, why he does so, and how he manipulates blood’s color, viscosity, and other features, the surface ghoulishness of his methods vanish. A number of Castiglia’s contemporaries in the arts offer their reflections here, and director John Borowski adds a biographical thread concerning Castiglia’s relationship with the late H.R. Giger, a kindred spirit in the art of nightmares. Extras include additional scenes, extended interviews, and a photo slideshow. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)