- Wide Release
- Director: Jeffrey Bloom
- Written by: Jeffrey Bloom, Steven Nalevansky
- Running Time: 92 minutes
- Language: English
- MPAA Rating: R - Restricted
- Cast: David Huffman, Marianna Hill, Burt Young, John Saxon, Otis Young, Lena Pousette, Darrell Fetty, Stefan Gierasch, Eleanor Zee, Pamela McMyler, Harriet Medin, Mickey Fox, Marleta Giles, Laura Burkett, Jacqueline Randall, Don Barlow, David Wysong, Charles Rowe Rook, John Joseph Thomas, Julie Dolan, Sandra Friebel, Christopher Franklin, Bobby Bass, Read Morgan, Barney Pell, Marcus Chong, Mary Jo Catlett, Ian Abercrombie, Robert Newirth, Lavelle Roby, Jimmy Ogg, Lynne Fienerman, Steve Finkel, David Jacob, Stefanie Auerbach, Steve Ballard, Judy Walker, Muriel Bakcha, Lynne Marta
I couldn’t even imagine how the pitch for this film sounded: “Yeah, so there’s this creature living under a beach, see, and it eats people… but we never get to see it until like the end, and only then for about two seconds.” In their infinite genius, they must have also surmised that it worked for “Jaws”, so why wouldn’t it work for them? The answer is simple: “Jaws” had an interesting story, likeable characters, a great soundtrack, some cool cinematography, thoughtful dialogue, intense pacing etc… All those trinkets of cinematic gold that this film sorely lacks. Sadly, given the sheer absurdity of the premise, “Blood Beach” got the green light and went into production sometime in early 1980. Call it a hunch, but I suspect that the only reason capital was even thrown at this film was because someone was hoping the financial success of movies like “Jaws”, "Orca" and “Piranha”, would rub off onto "Blood Beach". Well, despite some modus success generated upon its video release, it never happened. In the end, and to its credit, “Blood Beach” has garnered a cult following based solely upon its weird premise, as well as his attention-grabbing poster art. Certainly, whatever praise the film has harvested didn’t come from the film itself, which is utterly unwatchable in those sandy spaces between the kills.
A Harbor Patrol officer, Harry Caulder (“Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby” star David Huffman), finds himself wading into an investigation when his ex-girlfriend’s mom inexplicably disappears from a Venice beach mere seconds after he last talked to her. As it turns out, she was but the first in a string of soon-to-be bizarre disappearances that leaves local beach-goers stirring in shock. So befuddled by the vanishings, the town’s Police Captain Pearson (John Saxon) - flanked by his pair of blundering, ineffective lead detectives, Sgt. Royko (“Carlito's Way: Rise to Power” star Burt Young) and Lt. Piantadosi (“The Capture of Bigfoot” star Otis Young) - opts to reach out to a local coroner and physician, Dr Demetrios (“My Wicked, Wicked Ways... The Legend of Errol Flynn” star Stefan Gierasch), for answers. Demetrios is one of those wild-eyed scientist types, whose seemingly cockeyed subterranean-monster theories are quickly dismissed by Pearson and crew. However, later, when the beach itself seems to take a bite out of crime by biting off a rapist’s cock, that’s when Pearson comes around to Demetrios’ more cockeyed observations. Wow, I just said cock three times in one paragraph.
Anyways, as the kills start to pile up, the suddenly single Caulder takes time out to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, Catherine (“Schizoid” star Mariana Hill), who has arrived back in town to keep tabs on her missing mother's case. Harry is only suddenly single because the beach swallowed up Harry’s other ‘current’ girlfriend just as she was about to walk in on him and his new gal pal. Though, don’t worry about her because no one else does, not even when clues emerge that she had arrived the night before and was probably dead. Inadvertently, in between hops to the local bar and efforts to avoid the crazy old bag lady who haunts the pier, Catherine and Harry actually manage to solve the case even before the cops do. It’s little wonder, I guess, considering what buffoons the cops are. Sgt. Royko’s particular approach to interviewing witnesses generally involves a couple of crude observations and a droll story involving his days back in Chicago. At the same time, Pearson is too busy ripping off taglines from much better movies to actually solve the case. To be fair, it was rather priceless watching the angst ridden face of John Saxon (1987’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”) as he utters the line, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you can't get to it." Oh, the shame!
After sixty or so torturous… uh, harsh interrogation… minutes, the investigators stumble upon the creature’s lair, located in a building... underground... just off the pier... along the boardwalk, and in doing so they turn up sixteen mutilated corpses. This leads to the cops rigging up the joint with bombs and cameras, apparently staging the most explosive episode of creature-candid-camera one is likely to see anytime soon. I won’t give away the capper but it involves Captain Pearson conveniently being out of the vicinity of the detonator while wacky Royko hangs around, just inches from it. Ah yes, if you think there will be a high-intense moment where Demetrios will come prancing at the camera growling about the need to save the creature, while hot-headed Royko races for the plunger, ready to blow the place to smithereens, well, you’ve probably seen this bad movie before, or a reasonable facsimile. The ambiguous ending proposes a sequel; however, to date, it has yet to materialize. Not that I know of, at least.
Unlike Spielberg’s beachside masterpiece, “Blood Beach” is a slow, waterlogged affair that is so colossally tedious in its approach to story telling and characterization that I felt compelled to turn it off only a half hour after I started watching it. The fact that the goofy, rubbery creature (a strange and never fully-explained Venus Flytrap thing) doesn’t show itself until the film’s closing moments, and then, only momentarily, leaves the viewer wondering why the hell they sat through the thing at all. It’s a futile jaunt through mind-numbing nothingness, broken up with a handful of laughable sequences where people are swallowed by the sand, and, or, have their genitals chomped off. One scene features a dog having its head chewed off. Yeah, they kill the dog!
"Blood Beach” is the kind of cultish movie that begs to be seen that is until it is seen and it loses, not some of its power, but all of it. Granted, the funky, creepy musical score by Gill Melle (1986’s “The Deliberate Stranger”) alongside Steve Poster's hazy, shoot-from-the-ankle photography, did help to edge the film into a particularly ominous mood, one that worked, sadly, only part of the time. Avoid!