BILL’s BIZARRE BIJOU
William D. Carl
This week’s feature presentation:
BLOOD BEAT (1983)
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if there’s a multitude of drag queens and camp sensibility, if go-go dancers in cages are featured, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.
Sometimes a movie is weird and funky. Sometimes a movie is bizarre and clunky. And sometimes you just have to wonder if the filmmakers were aliens, high on crack, and completely unfamiliar with common filmmaking techniques! These movies make you scream, “What the hell is happening?” as loudly as you can at the screen.
And Holy Andy Milligan, folks, we’ve found just such a picture in BLOOD BEAT (1983). This one almost defies description, but I’m gonna try my best. Bear with me, the going gets treacherous!
The credits unfurl to rather unpleasant space/electronic music, revealing the fact that nobody in this movie had ever been in movies and probably didn’t work again. A cartoon knife flies into the title, and it fills with cartoon blood.
In the Wisconsin woods, Gary (Terry Brown) hunts with a bow and arrow, killing a deer while listening to music (hopefully not the godawful soundtrack) on a Sony Walkman. Now, I haven’t hunted in years, but this seems rather dangerous! He enthusiastically shows the dead deer to his artist wife, Cathy (Helen Benton), who has a migraine – possibly brought on by the loudly-colored Native-American shawl she is wearing. She looks like a butch version of Shelly Duvall. Gary wants to propose to her, but she says, “No, no, no, no, no. Listen, no. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. No.” Her kids are arriving soon for Christmas, so Gary strings the deer carcass up on a tree by the driveway and pulls out the innards . . . which the kids seem to find adorable. Yes, a gutted deer is the best welcome home gift ever. The “kids” are college-aged: Dolly (Dana Day), who looks like an aerobics instructor and announces she’s quitting school the minute she sees her Mom, and Ted (James Fitzgibbons), a handsome lunk. Ted has brought home his current girl, Sarah (Claudia Peyton). Cathy and Sarah look at each other and weird music plays and there is a long awkward silence between the two. What the hell is happening?
Sarah is obsessed with looking at Cathy’s paintings, staring blankly into them. Ted shows Sarah to her room for the weekend, and she sees everything in negative exposure and hears a baby crying. Sarah is certain that Cathy is somehow reading her mind. Sure enough, Cathy has bought a gift for the surprise guest, even though nobody told her Sarah was coming.
The family decides to all go hunting together, because nothing quite says the season of Christ like blasting away living animals in the Wisconsin forest. When they get a deer in their sights, they want Sarah to take the shot (initiation into the family?), but she screams instead, frightening off the deer and then she goes madly running through the woods. Soon, she stumbles across a man, possibly another hunter (what the hell is going on?) who is covered in blood and sliced up pretty nastily. He dies while spreading blood over her face, and colors change and everything goes psychedelic.
They put Sarah to bed and Ted visits his mother in her studio while she is painting. They speak as if translated by Tommy Wiseau . . . “Oh, hi Ted. Come in.” “Hi Mom.” “I love Gary but I love my work.” “Oh, Mom.” “Ted, how long have you known Sarah?” “How long have I known Sarah? Let me think.” See, Mom is sensing something very strange about Sarah. All the while, monks are chanting on the soundtrack.
Later that night, as Mom is painting, her left hand begins shaking uncontrollably. That hand grabs the brush and starts painting as Dolly and Ted play a board game by the tree, and Sarah, upstairs, finds a samurai headdress in her bed! She finds a samurai sword next to the bed, and when she opens it, she cuts her finger. Mom, meanwhile, has drawn the shadow of a samurai with her possessed hand. She is in her studio, when Gary walks in and we get even more of that gloriously stilted dialogue.
“Cathy, what’s the matter?”
“Hold Me, Gary.”
“What’s the matter? What the hell is going on around here?” (A very good question!) “No, tell me. Now. What’s going on?”
“I can’t tell you. I just can’t.”
“Dammit, Cathy, will you wake up? What do you think I am, anyway? Some kind of a piece of plastic that you can just push around and then dispose of when I’m all finished? Oh, I know that you are very bright and very talented and very full of visions. But I’m not, Cathy. I’m just a simple man. I need attention and I need some affection. Don’t treat me like some kind of a damn dog waiting for a bone you can just push around. Okay?”
“Gary, don’t talk like that.”
Gary is a bit of a firebrand, and Cathy says everything in a flat monotone. They are so sincere; you’d think they were performing a theater piece by Samuel Beckett.
The family gathers together, wondering where Uncle Pete is. We cut to a man—I’m gonna assume this is Uncle Pete (Peter Spelson)—whose car has gone off the road. He flees something that sounds like a heavy-breather obscene phone call.
We cut to another couple, Paul (Franck Miley) and Christie (Carol Wagner), who mention Gary as a friend, and who bicker humorously. Paul wants a cup of tea, and Christie brings their dog into the house. Meanwhile, Sarah has decided this is a great time to go back to her room and masturbate! Her orgasms bring out the mysterious heavy breather. While, back at their house, Christie, makes up a glass of Tang (it’s what the astronaut’s drink!), and she gets stabbed with a samurai sword. Then, the killer gets the dog and her husband! All while Sarah is thrashing around in her bed, having orgasms, and writhing like a dirty little tramp.
Yep, what the hell is going on?
The next thing you know, there’s a samurai attacking the family; everything starts flying around like a poltergeist is in the house; windows are opening and shutting; the phone catches fire; oatmeal and possessed cans of Tab attack Gary; flashing blue and red lights flow everywhere; and Sarah is still getting busy with her own self! Cathy keeps shouting, “Who are you? What do you want? Answer me! Answer me!”
At this point, I gave up trying to understand the movie and just went with it. The family are magical and can cast spells or something, and the samurai is linked with their past, and Sarah and Ted decide this is a good time to make love, which starts all the crazy stuff happening again!
Before the end of the movie, we get a samurai-attack on hobos; lasers shooting out of characters’ hands; long, serious bouts of exposition that makes little sense; family mind control; polarizing trippy photography effects; Hiroshima stock footage; a harmonica solo; and even more orgasm-triggered slasher assaults, as well as a finale that seems a lot like SCANNERS (1981) to the strains of Carl Orff’s O Fortuna.
Truly, what in the holy hell is going on?
None of BLOOD BEAT makes a lick of sense, but it’s certainly never boring. Some of the cinematography is really beautiful, striking even, and the samurai slasher is cool, but the less said about the overly-earnest acting the better. The screenwriter, Fabrice A. Zaphiratos (also the director) seems to be striving to make something classy, like Masterpiece Theater with a slasher motif, but what he got was one of the weirdest movies ever created. It’s the bastard love child of THE ROOM (2003), THE TRIP (1967), POLTERGEIST (1982), and an H.G. Lewis splatter film. If that sounds appealing to you, have at it! If not, this one will make you chew off your arm to escape the room where it is playing!
Added bonus: If you can watch this with closed captions on, by all means do it! You get the best captions ever, such as “Mystical boinging,” “Intense whooshing,” and “Intense orchestral music.” It’s hysterical!
I give BLOOD BEAT two and a half murderous cans of Tab out of four.
© Copyright 2017 by William D. Carl