Blood Beat (1983)

After having watched this movie last night and then read as much as I can, I’m still no clearer as to what “Blood Beat” is actually about. From the title, which makes no sense, to the plot, which makes no sense, to the ending, which makes no sense, I remain in the dark; but, dear reader, let’s muddle through this together. I’ll share some opinions and theories, you’ll hopefully be entertained, and maybe if anyone reading this is smarter than me (quite likely) you can share what it’s actually about in the comments.

I am sort of predisposed towards liking it, though, from finding out what a low-budget, semi-amateur production it was. For instance, director Fabrice A. Zaphiratos didn’t even realise he was shooting in 4:3 (fullscreen, as opposed to widescreen) until 15 days into the movie! This is Zaphiratos’ only directing job, although his father Henri is a well-known former director and playwright in the French-speaking world.

We’re in rural Wisconsin, and a house on its own in the middle of nowhere. A couple seem happy enough, despite their differences – Cathy (Helen Benton) and her boyfriend Gary (Terry Brown), she a hippie-ish painter of unsettling abstracts, he a rough-and-ready hunting type. Before we really get going, I’d better mention they show the results of Gary’s hunting in graphic detail, as he has a real dead deer in the back of his truck, and we see him gutting the deer as it’s tied up against a tree. Apparently the production bought the deer pre-killed from a nearby farm, but it definitely might be an automatic no for some of my readers.

As it’s Christmas time, Cathy’s adult children are coming for a visit – excellent tomboy-ish Dolly (Dana Day) and Ted (James Fitzgibbons), who would 100% be a date-rapist at some point in his life if he didn’t get disembowelled (spoilers!) Ted has brought along his girlfriend Sarah (Claudia Peyton), who spends 95% of her on-screen time fighting off unwelcome sexual advances or screaming / being upset. Oh, and Uncle Pete shows up later on, but he’s completely irrelevant to proceedings.

ISCFC ONE-TIMERS CLUB!!! Benton, Day, Fitzgibbons, Peyton, come on down! You’d never bother acting again, but you all have a place in our hearts. Also, I’m pretty sure that most of Terry Brown’s other credits are a different actor of the same name (there’s a surprising number of incorrect entries in the non-popular bits of IMDB) but strictly speaking, he doesn’t qualify.

I’m still not getting anywhere near the plot, am I? When Cathy and Sarah meet, Cathy takes an immediate dislike to her; she starts having dreams in a nightmarish reverse-negative colour scheme; she finds a samurai suit under the bed that immediately disappears, which Cathy says never existed in the first place; also, there’s entirely incongruous classical music playing over the top of almost every scene. There’s also a very unusual scene that shows the so-far-unidentified killer stalking their latest prey, while Sarah is writhing in bed, orgasming as the person dies.

Although the scenery is very empty, almost desolate, they’re not cut off from the world or any of those other horror clichés. They find a guy with a huge wound in his chest while they’re out hunting, and the emergency services turn up. They have neighbours, after a fashion.

I’m debating how much of this to spoil, but I think it’s one of those movies where I could exactly relate the contents of every scene and it wouldn’t spoil it too much. It turns out that Cathy and her children all possess psychic powers, for reasons entirely unexplained; Sarah does too, but the movie is frustratngly unclear about whether she always possessed them and is tracking the family down, or is possessed by someone who hates the family. Why there’s a group of “good” psychics and a “bad” one is another matter the movie doesn’t trouble itself with answering. Why the thing doing the killings appears to be a samurai? No idea.

I’m still no clearer on what happened. I think, with oddities like this, made by directors who had no idea what they were doing, working for the first (and last) time, in an unusual location with a group of largely amateur actors, there’s always something that is at least interesting to watch. Even if the actual intention of the movie – like, why everyone bothered making it, and we the potential audience should bother watching it – is sadly lost to the mists of time.

Rating: thumbs down


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