10 March 2009

Blood Beach

Cover scan courtesy of itsonlyamovie.co.uk

Blood Beach

United States - 1981
Director – Jeffrey Bloom
Media Home Entertainment, 1982, VHS

Just moments after the opening shot, shit, in the opening shot, a granny is sucked screaming, into the sand of an LA beach while her dog and a harbor patrolman look on. Sadly the patrolman, Harry, knows the old lady and all the more traumatic for him, used to date her daughter Catherine. It might not have gone any farther than that as far as Harry is concerned, except that the following night, in an epically metaphorical cross cutting of scenes, Harry gets it on with his sexy foreign stewardess girlfriend while simultaneously the granny's dog gets its head ripped off on the same stretch of beach. Now Catherine, a sensitive artist type, arrives in town and Harry’s all nervous and twisted up with inrequited "harbor patrol" duties.

Meanwhile, on the scene to investigate, is a pair of perfect character actor cops. Uncouth, unkempt and unruly ex-Chicago cop Royko (Burt Young from a million things) and his scolding fatherly Lieutenant (Otis Young) a stern and overly serious "black cop". Permissably perplexed, the cops have nothing to go on until the next day when a rich bitch on the beach gets her legs chewed on. Enter the big man on precinct, tough as nails Capitan, John Saxon (Cannibal Apocalypse, Nightmare on Elm St.) who orders the entire beach exhumed by a backhoe.
Saxon, a media vulture, and Royko (Young)

For no reason except perhaps to compensate for the relative timidity of scares thusfar in the film, the script resorts to a simple "unexplained noise + cat jumping out of nowhere" ploy, which on second thought only morosely emphasizes the previous fact. As if that weren't enough. When Harry's goofy partner, affectionately called "Hoagy", parts ways with his girlfriend, she gets sexually assaulted under the pier but throws the guy off. Crawling towards her, apparently while fully erect and penetrating the sand, his weiner is gruesomely removed by the sand creature. Follow wiener joke.
Next it's Harry's girlfriends turn to go under, and while the all the backhoes in the world didn't find shit the first time, this time one guy with a spade is able to find her eyeball, solidly placing her in the dead meat category and sealing Catherine's place at the top while nonetheless steeling Harry's resolve.

At this point it's clear that despite the best efforts of a generally talented crew of actors this movie is not going to deliver on the serious meat, or creeps. John Saxon himself cracks down on his boys and pushes them toward the inevitable sideline role all cops play in this type of watered down everyday-quasi-hero horror flick. Harry will inevitably discover the solution somehow linked to his and Catherine's past relationship. And while the cops will execute the final actual kill, Harry will be the artistic father of the operation, and receive the movie's only real hero medal, the girl.

Despite its relative predictability, Blood Beach holds great promise, never altogether delivered, but certainly promised. There's an assload of talent here, and the fact that the monster is based on a real life insect, the Ant Lion, is pretty rad. I thought those bugs were pretty creepy when I was a kid. Here though, the concept isn’t played to its full potential and when it comes so close to the end, there’s no time to let the full weight of the idea sink in. Seeing people getting sucked into the sand and gored is awesome, but there's not enough of it to make all the talent interesting, and the strain between moments of each is only just bridgeable by intoxication.

Some poster art, mostly in languages I don't understand, the last looks like a double feature of some kind.

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