Mixed Blood


1h 37m 1984
Mixed Blood

Brief Synopsis

Brazilian drug dealers in the lower east side of Manhattan start a war with a rival gang.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Cocaine
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Crime
Release Date
1984
Location
New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m

Synopsis

An urban drama set in the Lower East Side in which a ruthless mother-son duo set up an illegal drug trafficking headquarters comprised of the neighborhood's latino youth--it is both a place of business, and a place called home for this extended family-of-sorts... and furthermore, they'll risk anything to protect their turf.

Photo Collections

Mixed Blood - Movie Poster
Mixed Blood - Movie Poster

Film Details

Also Known As
Cocaine
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Crime
Release Date
1984
Location
New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m

Articles

Mixed Blood


One of the most commercial films from independent director Paul Morrissey, Mixed Blood (1984) marked the middle entry in the filmmaker's New York "street" trilogy in the 1980s after a strange, extended detour through Europe and Los Angeles for the previous ten years. The bizarre cinematic output of that period was a major switch for the former Andy Warhol associate, yielding work as diverse as Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), Blood for Dracula (1974), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978), and Madame Wang's (1981).

Morrissey's career was in an odd place upon his return to America, following two aborted projects that couldn't have been more different: a proposed counterculture update of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, which he wrote in 1980, and Trash II, a sequel to his underground hit, which reached the budget stage in 1981. That latter project morphed into a return to the seedy New York milieu of his previous film as the play adaptation Forty Deuce (1982), a throwback to his famed hustler-themed collaborations with Warhol and actor Joe Dallesandro starting in the late '60s.

Released in 1984, Mixed Blood remains in New York but leaves the hustler trade to focus on the multiracial drug wars brewing in the city's lower east side, specifically in so-called Alphabet City of the East Village, between a Portuguese crime family, the Maceteros, and their Puerto Rican rivals, the Master Dancers. The female head of the Maceteros, Rita La Punta, is obsessed with Carmen Miranda and keeps an iron grip on her dim-witted son, Thiago, whose involvement with a girl outside the group escalates the already growing tension involving local corrupt police forces.

This film is populated primarily by non-actors in the usual Morrissey mold, with Cuban delivery boy Richard Ulacia, stepping in at the last minute after the previous actor dropped out, bringing a certain Dallesandro-style blankness. That's in keeping with the Morrissey method, however. As the director noted in Maurice Yacowar's book, The Films of Paul Morrissey, "None of my central characters - neither Joe nor the kids in Forty Deuce or Mixed Blood... ever behaved in front of the cameras as they did in real life. They were usually happy and talkative but I'd tell them not to smile... A smile is a kind of surrender to date. It eliminates any kind of tension. It implies acceptance and therefore a kind of commitment."

In addition to the beautiful Linda Kerridge, whose all-too-short film career was highlighted with an auspicious debut as a Marilyn Monroe lookalike in Fade to Black (1980), the film does feature one astonishing professional performer at its center: Brazilian actress Marília Pêra as La Punta. Though she had been acting since the mid-1960s, Pêra rose to international prominence with a scene-stealing turn in Hector Babenco's Pixote (1981). She campaigned for her role here despite her limited knowledge of English, explaining to Morrissey that she was experienced with improvisation and often made up her own dialogue. Mixed Blood remains one of her very few English-language efforts, as she has acted almost entirely in Brazil where she remains a fixture in TV series. However, she did return to cinematic prominence again in 1998 starring in the Oscar-nominated Central Station (1998), which also took home numerous awards including the Golden Globe for Foreign Language Film.

Made for $400,000 and originally entitled Alphabet City during production (a title later used for a 1984 crime film with Vincent Spano), Mixed Blood was banned in Ontario for its explicit scenes of drug use but received an exception to play at the Toronto Film Festival. Though not planned at the time, it became the centerpiece of the aforementioned New York trilogy, followed in 1988 by the far more comical Spike of Bensonhurst. That said, this film is not without the trademark offbeat Morrissey humor, particularly a now-nostalgic visit to a store specializing in the preteen Latino pop group Menudo, famous for regularly ejecting its members once they outgrew their "cute" phase. The parallel to the film's gang lifestyle had to be intentional on Morrissey's part, and his use of source Puerto Rican music on the soundtrack reveals his level of attention to detail far beyond the performances. He also enlisted Andy Hernandez of Kid Creole and the Coconuts to provide some original music as well, creating an ambience far from the electronic and rock music prevalent in action and crime films at the time. "Rock and roll made drugs fashionable, and it is a twenty-four hour commercial for drug taking" Morrissey said about his music choices in the Yacowar book. "Ethnic music, on the other hand, isn't negative or pro-drug. It's life affirming, so I would rather use it in my films."

By Nathaniel Thompson
Mixed Blood

Mixed Blood

One of the most commercial films from independent director Paul Morrissey, Mixed Blood (1984) marked the middle entry in the filmmaker's New York "street" trilogy in the 1980s after a strange, extended detour through Europe and Los Angeles for the previous ten years. The bizarre cinematic output of that period was a major switch for the former Andy Warhol associate, yielding work as diverse as Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), Blood for Dracula (1974), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978), and Madame Wang's (1981). Morrissey's career was in an odd place upon his return to America, following two aborted projects that couldn't have been more different: a proposed counterculture update of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, which he wrote in 1980, and Trash II, a sequel to his underground hit, which reached the budget stage in 1981. That latter project morphed into a return to the seedy New York milieu of his previous film as the play adaptation Forty Deuce (1982), a throwback to his famed hustler-themed collaborations with Warhol and actor Joe Dallesandro starting in the late '60s. Released in 1984, Mixed Blood remains in New York but leaves the hustler trade to focus on the multiracial drug wars brewing in the city's lower east side, specifically in so-called Alphabet City of the East Village, between a Portuguese crime family, the Maceteros, and their Puerto Rican rivals, the Master Dancers. The female head of the Maceteros, Rita La Punta, is obsessed with Carmen Miranda and keeps an iron grip on her dim-witted son, Thiago, whose involvement with a girl outside the group escalates the already growing tension involving local corrupt police forces. This film is populated primarily by non-actors in the usual Morrissey mold, with Cuban delivery boy Richard Ulacia, stepping in at the last minute after the previous actor dropped out, bringing a certain Dallesandro-style blankness. That's in keeping with the Morrissey method, however. As the director noted in Maurice Yacowar's book, The Films of Paul Morrissey, "None of my central characters - neither Joe nor the kids in Forty Deuce or Mixed Blood... ever behaved in front of the cameras as they did in real life. They were usually happy and talkative but I'd tell them not to smile... A smile is a kind of surrender to date. It eliminates any kind of tension. It implies acceptance and therefore a kind of commitment." In addition to the beautiful Linda Kerridge, whose all-too-short film career was highlighted with an auspicious debut as a Marilyn Monroe lookalike in Fade to Black (1980), the film does feature one astonishing professional performer at its center: Brazilian actress Marília Pêra as La Punta. Though she had been acting since the mid-1960s, Pêra rose to international prominence with a scene-stealing turn in Hector Babenco's Pixote (1981). She campaigned for her role here despite her limited knowledge of English, explaining to Morrissey that she was experienced with improvisation and often made up her own dialogue. Mixed Blood remains one of her very few English-language efforts, as she has acted almost entirely in Brazil where she remains a fixture in TV series. However, she did return to cinematic prominence again in 1998 starring in the Oscar-nominated Central Station (1998), which also took home numerous awards including the Golden Globe for Foreign Language Film. Made for $400,000 and originally entitled Alphabet City during production (a title later used for a 1984 crime film with Vincent Spano), Mixed Blood was banned in Ontario for its explicit scenes of drug use but received an exception to play at the Toronto Film Festival. Though not planned at the time, it became the centerpiece of the aforementioned New York trilogy, followed in 1988 by the far more comical Spike of Bensonhurst. That said, this film is not without the trademark offbeat Morrissey humor, particularly a now-nostalgic visit to a store specializing in the preteen Latino pop group Menudo, famous for regularly ejecting its members once they outgrew their "cute" phase. The parallel to the film's gang lifestyle had to be intentional on Morrissey's part, and his use of source Puerto Rican music on the soundtrack reveals his level of attention to detail far beyond the performances. He also enlisted Andy Hernandez of Kid Creole and the Coconuts to provide some original music as well, creating an ambience far from the electronic and rock music prevalent in action and crime films at the time. "Rock and roll made drugs fashionable, and it is a twenty-four hour commercial for drug taking" Morrissey said about his music choices in the Yacowar book. "Ethnic music, on the other hand, isn't negative or pro-drug. It's life affirming, so I would rather use it in my films." By Nathaniel Thompson

Mixed Blood - Paul Morrissey's MIXED BLOOD on DVD


"...you must always do what your mother tells you, you hear? Always." -Rita (Marilla Pera) to her son, Thiago (Richard Ulacia) in Mixed Blood

Director Paul Morrissey returns to the same territory he chronicled in his previous films Flesh (1968) and Trash (1970) - the squalid existence of criminals, drug users and various "low-lifes" living in New York City. Mixed Blood (1985) is a new chapter focusing on the drug dealers and subsequent "drug war" between two rival gangs in NYC's Alphabet City (the Lower East Side); The "Master Dancers" led by Juan the "Bullet" and the "Maceteros" led by the indomitable and feisty Rita La Punta.

The character-driven film centers primarily on Rita's "family", one which consists of her beautiful and devoted son, Thiago, and a large group of underage boys that she recruits to do her criminal bidding. She enlists her boys young so that they can kill without the worry of them serving jail time. The character of Rita is endlessly fascinating and Brazilian actress Marilla Pera is an absolute marvel in the role. She alternates between loving mother-figure to her "boys" (in one amusing scene, the idea of motherhood is spoofed when Rita tells one of her boys to take out the trash – "Do it now or no television!") and executing her ruthless duties as the reigning drug queen. This role is so perfect, so unique and complex on so many levels, that one is reminded of some elaborate Shakespearean female character along the lines of Lady Macbeth mixed with the violent criminal streak found in Ma Barker, complete with the blind devotion of her son and surrogate "children". It's a fantastic character, and one that absolutely holds the film together.

Similarly, the film, like Rita's character, changes tone and mood from scene to scene. One minute it's jet black comedy, the next, followed by shocking violence. For example, in the film's best and most joyous sequence is the scene at Rita's grandchild's christening, where she sings and dances around to a rendition of Carmen Miranda's "Tico Tico". It's lively! Vivacious! Only to be followed a couple minutes later by a violent infiltration and shootout between the "Dancers" and the "Maceteros." It's on this unpredictable balance that the film succeeds. Even the mix of acting styles, amateur alongside professional, adds to this uneasy mix.

Also of note is the palpable atmosphere of the film. The viewer can almost feel the grime and smell the dank living conditions that lay amongst the maze-like back alleys and graffiti-covered, abandoned tenements of Alphabet City. The flavorful Latin soundtrack also adds a distinctive touch to the film. With all of these elements "mixed" together, flaws and all, we come away with a film that can definitely be considered one of Paul Morrissey's best films.

The recently released DVD from Image Entertainment provides no supplemental materials save for a brief commentary track by director Paul Morrissey that plays over an extensive gallery of behind-the-scenes photographs of the film. Morrissey mentions that this is his favorite film and goes into great detail in describing the casting for the film as well as his inspiration for the story, one which was lifted directly from the headlines of NYC newspapers at the time.

For more information about Mixed Blood, visit Image Entertainment. To order Mixed Blood, go to TCM Shopping.

by Eric Weber

Mixed Blood - Paul Morrissey's MIXED BLOOD on DVD

"...you must always do what your mother tells you, you hear? Always." -Rita (Marilla Pera) to her son, Thiago (Richard Ulacia) in Mixed Blood Director Paul Morrissey returns to the same territory he chronicled in his previous films Flesh (1968) and Trash (1970) - the squalid existence of criminals, drug users and various "low-lifes" living in New York City. Mixed Blood (1985) is a new chapter focusing on the drug dealers and subsequent "drug war" between two rival gangs in NYC's Alphabet City (the Lower East Side); The "Master Dancers" led by Juan the "Bullet" and the "Maceteros" led by the indomitable and feisty Rita La Punta. The character-driven film centers primarily on Rita's "family", one which consists of her beautiful and devoted son, Thiago, and a large group of underage boys that she recruits to do her criminal bidding. She enlists her boys young so that they can kill without the worry of them serving jail time. The character of Rita is endlessly fascinating and Brazilian actress Marilla Pera is an absolute marvel in the role. She alternates between loving mother-figure to her "boys" (in one amusing scene, the idea of motherhood is spoofed when Rita tells one of her boys to take out the trash – "Do it now or no television!") and executing her ruthless duties as the reigning drug queen. This role is so perfect, so unique and complex on so many levels, that one is reminded of some elaborate Shakespearean female character along the lines of Lady Macbeth mixed with the violent criminal streak found in Ma Barker, complete with the blind devotion of her son and surrogate "children". It's a fantastic character, and one that absolutely holds the film together. Similarly, the film, like Rita's character, changes tone and mood from scene to scene. One minute it's jet black comedy, the next, followed by shocking violence. For example, in the film's best and most joyous sequence is the scene at Rita's grandchild's christening, where she sings and dances around to a rendition of Carmen Miranda's "Tico Tico". It's lively! Vivacious! Only to be followed a couple minutes later by a violent infiltration and shootout between the "Dancers" and the "Maceteros." It's on this unpredictable balance that the film succeeds. Even the mix of acting styles, amateur alongside professional, adds to this uneasy mix. Also of note is the palpable atmosphere of the film. The viewer can almost feel the grime and smell the dank living conditions that lay amongst the maze-like back alleys and graffiti-covered, abandoned tenements of Alphabet City. The flavorful Latin soundtrack also adds a distinctive touch to the film. With all of these elements "mixed" together, flaws and all, we come away with a film that can definitely be considered one of Paul Morrissey's best films. The recently released DVD from Image Entertainment provides no supplemental materials save for a brief commentary track by director Paul Morrissey that plays over an extensive gallery of behind-the-scenes photographs of the film. Morrissey mentions that this is his favorite film and goes into great detail in describing the casting for the film as well as his inspiration for the story, one which was lifted directly from the headlines of NYC newspapers at the time. For more information about Mixed Blood, visit Image Entertainment. To order Mixed Blood, go to TCM Shopping. by Eric Weber

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall 1985

Released in United States Fall September 21, 1985

Released in United States March 1985

Released in United States September 1984

Shown at Toronto Festival of Festivals (Contemporary World Cinema) September 1984.

Released in United States Fall 1985

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs) March 14-31, 1985.)

Released in United States September 1984 (Shown at Toronto Festival of Festivals (Contemporary World Cinema) September 1984.)

Released in United States Fall September 21, 1985