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Film Review: Bloodlines – The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia is Bloody Captivating

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Bloodlines: The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia, is a morbid, fascinating, and remarkably inspiring new documentary about one of the most acclaimed artists of our time. Directed by John Borowski, Bloodlines takes a harrowing look at the life of the renowned painter, tattoo artist, and seemingly indestructible human being; Vincent Castiglia. Aside from his astounding technical skills, both behind the brush and tattoo gun respectively, Castiglia has made a name for himself with his unorthodox/mind-blowing painting style; using human blood to depict the mesmerizing images in his head.

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Borowski’s film centers both on Castiglia’s extraordinary creative process; and his holy-shit; tragedy-plagued upbringing. The artistic, procedural elements of the film are dazzling. Watching Castiglia in action, from the initial, conceptual stages of his work; to the bloodletting and canvas painting is spellbinding. Borowski’s use of classical music over these scenes lends an air of gravitas to the whole affair. Sweeping pianos and orchestral arrangements blare in the background as Castiglia brings haunting images of decaying flesh and half dead humanoids to life in gorgeous, bloody detail. The amount of time and energy Castiglia puts into each of his painting is astounding. Watch as he collects and stores vials of his own blood; then spends what seems like eons mixing and matching the perfect combination of plasma to render the amazing shadows and intricate brush strokes that define his jaw-dropping works.

That leaves us with the other portion of the film. Bloodlines’ heart shattering, gut-wrenching elements stem from Castiglia’s traumatic upbringing and self-destructive behavior as an adult. The film shows how Castiglia’s abusive childhood and subsequent battle with drug addiction nearly drove him to an early grave several times. Turning to sketches as a kid, then tattooing and eventually his world-renowned masterworks of blood helped transform and ultimately save Castiglia’s life. His art is his therapy. He exercises his personal demons and literally drains the bad blood from his veins and turns it into something remarkable on canvas.

Castiglia’s work tends to focus on the dark and ghastly side of life. Something he knows all too much about. As fate would have it, there’s a certain subset of individuals who eat that gruesome shit up like no other: metalheads. Castiglia, a formidable musician himself; has longstanding ties to the metal world and his art has earned the praises of metal titans like Slayer, Lamb of God, Triptykon, and Celtic Frost. Castiglia even got the thumbs up from the man himself, H.R. Giger; the incomparable Swiss godfather of mind-bending art and motherfucking Xenomorphs.

Bloodlines: The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia is both a fascinating look at one of the most talented visual artists of our time and a strangely inspiring story of overcoming adversity. If Castiglia can find beauty in this troubling world of ours; anyone can.

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