Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blood Beat (1985)

Mmmkay... So here we have a slasher movie about an undead samurai that terrorises a family living in the arse end of nowhere. Somehow Blood Beat manages to end up being like a cross between Friday The 13th Part VII and Poltergeist, but 1,000 times weirder, and if there's one thing I can say in its favour, it's that it's unique to say the least. Completely incoherent and amateurish, but definitely unique.

I'll try my best to outline the plot of Blood Beat, but my grasp on proceedings was tenuous at best. The movie begins with siblings Ted and Dolly arriving at their mother's house for Christmas. Ted has brought his new girlfriend Sarah along to meet his mother, and from the moment they meet there's something weird going on - a kind of telekinetic bond exists between the two women, despite their never having met. Next thing you know, a samurai has appeared and is fucking people up in the nearby woods - and waddya know, it turns out that the supernatural killer has something to do with the family's past. And..... That's more or less it. 

So yeah, Blood Beat makes absolutely no sense. I know there was a samurai, I know some people died, and I know there was some ESP action going on, but that's all I've got. I'm willing to accept that I might have zoned out at a critical point, but this movie essentially amounts to a bunch of ideas mashed together to create something very strange and yet weirdly enjoyable. Blood Beat's strong suit, and the thing that somehow manages to compensate for the fact that it makes no sense, is that it's just surreal enough to be somewhat original, and rarely boring. It's kind of terrible, yes, but oddly mesmerising at the same time.

Technically speaking, the movie is all over the place. Some of the ultra-cheap tricks employed by director Fabrice Zaphiratos actually work, and add to the film's surreal atmosphere - I love the little touches like having the screen flash red anytime Sarah gets freaked out. In other respects though, it's a disaster. The special effects used in the second half of the film are unbelievably cheap, and look like they were imported directly from the 80's He-Man cartoons. It's also guilty of many poorly lit night scenes, something that's always a pet hate of mine. The highlights are definitely the ESP material, which essentially amount to the actors twitching and gurning as if crapping themselves mercilessly, while cheap cartoon lights flash hypnotically in the background. The performances are mostly passable, with the exception of the mother, who is honestly one of the worst actors I've ever seen - the scenes that feature her being "possessed" are mind-numbingly bad, and I've seen some BAD acting in my time.

It's hard to write a coherent review of such an incoherent film, but the short version is, I dug Blood Beat. It's full of mistakes, flaws and totally non-sensical plot turns, but it's all in good spirits, and besides, it's got a fucking samurai. A shitty, barely-visible-for-most-of-the-movie samurai, but a samurai nonetheless. Add to this a killer lo-fi synth track and hey, it's not a bad little number. Just be warned - you will more than likely be extremely confused for most of the movie, but just go with it and you'll be allllright.

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