All the things that make grindhouse cinema great are also the same things that can make it absolutely excruciating. Low budgets, cheap production values, gratuitous nudity and violence—while they all can make for inventive and entertaining pop culture, those same tools are the go-to moves for every lazy hack in history. It’s too early to tell which way Blood Drive, the new Syfy series premiering this summer, is going to go. On the one hand, the premise has potential: Set in the near-future year of 1999, a gas crisis and climate change have left America a Mad Max-style hellscape. A dangerous woman (Christina Ochoa) joins forces with the last good cop in Los Angeles to participate in a cross-country car race, encountering all manner of insanity along the way. The one caveat: Her car runs on human blood. (Sure, it’s derivative of movies like, well, Blood Car, but here the engine appears to have literal jaws.)
On the other hand, just going off the trailer, it’s astounding this doesn’t come from uber-crappy ripoff studio The Asylum, as it looks to traffic in whatever level of shameless Troma-aping ridiculousness it can get away with—not an easy genre in which to succeed. But it does star Alan Ritchson, whose chiseled jawline (and “Ken doll” good looks, as the trailer notes) have somehow kept people from realizing he’s actually a pretty brilliant comic actor. We’re hoping Blood Drive can overcome the sub-Rob Zombie aesthetic on display here and deliver some genuine trashy entertainment when the series premieres on Syfy June 14 at 10 p.m. ET.