Thursday, 22 October 2009

Blood Hook (1986, Jim Mallon)


Version Reviewed: the Troma Triple B-Header DVD, which also features "Blades" and "Zombie Island Massacre". Overall, two good low-budget slashers from the eighties and "Zombie Island Massacre" make this a worthwhile package.

Now here's a title that doesn't make sense. Don't worry, you haven't missed earlier entries in this series, "Blood Knife" and "Blood Sword", because they don't exist. I have no idea what they were thinking with this title, but I love it - nonsensical and evocative. I imagine Troma retitled it to "Blood Hook" and that it was originally titled "Muskie Madness" or something.

This is a Troma pickup from the late eighties. A very low-budget, off-beat and funny slasher that's half-parody and a lot of fun. As far as plot goes, I seem to remember it as: back in the sixties or seventies, a young boy sees his grandfather killed by an (unseen to us) killer, who appears when music plays and is accompanied by a creepy hissing noise. Years later, that kid (now a teen) comes back into the small fishing town with four friends. They meet some weird, redneck locals:

  • A guy who was so much like the blemish on comedy that is Red Green, he probably has a similar, two-colour nonsense name, like Black Purple.
  • A sexy MILF who looks about 18 and frequently leaves her kid unattended.
  • The big fat guy with a beard, who's a psycho 'NAM vet. He reminds me of a combination of Stooges guitarist Ron Ashton in the other Troma pick-up, "Frostbiter", and someone else who I can't remember right now. He actually says "Some dudes get short wave on their braces and their hip pins. Over in 'Nam, you could hear stuff in the air that wasn't normal, man. Hell, I knew this dude in Clevelend with a steel pelvis? Got a hard-on everytime a train went by."
  • The creepy old American Gothic-alike who wanders around moaning.
  • The big fat cheater who cheats at everything and accuses everyone else of cheating (Denny).
  • The old man who's like Crazy Ralph from "Friday the 13th".
  • The weird, slow and Canadian sounding bait shop man.
They all enter into the "Muskie Madness" fishing competition and one by one they get knocked off by the same music-invoked killer that kills the old man at the beginning. Convieniently, one of the teenage characters is a frustrated musician. This is like a parody of films where a minister's faith is tested by the devil, or something. Anyway, they attract him with music and a buncha stuff happens and it turns out it's the slow-speaking bait shop guy. The END.

Clockwise from top left: the lonely, horny one of the teens; one of the cartoonish corpses in it's watery grave at the climax of the film; the irresponsible MILF; and finally, the one of the teens who says "dude" and "man" a lot.

But yeah, it also has some memorable imagery - such as the corpses' cartoony but well done appearance in their watery grave at the end and the sound design is exceptional for a film this low budget. Music is pretty good all-round, not a soundtrack I'd buy or acquire, but all listenable and the sound effect for the killer is effective. It's the same kinda hiss you hear in "Shivers" and the end of "Night of the Creeps".
The atmosphere is very well crafted with the slow, creep down to the river by skycar at the beginning and the creepy "lair" at the end being obvious stand outs. Genuine locations are a vital asset to the film - this is really what some place looked like at that time. I have no idea where, but it did anyway.
The film is funny when it needs to be and there are enough secondary characters (including a feuding family) that things keep moving and don't get stuck in a rut. It's not as funny as "Student Bodies", but it's funnier than "Splatter University", "Decampitated", "Scream" or "Scary Movie".

If there is a big flaw in all of this, it's that after the two sidekick men were killed, I lost a little interest. The goofy New Waver guy and the fat guy who loved the MILF were both more entertaining, and therefore endearing, characters than the lead "frustrated musician".
But yeah, all of this only applies if you're into eighties slasher movies. I am, and I'm a fan of it's twin - the eighties sex comedy. They're really the same thing but in one there's a killer. That's it. Even the stereotyping is identical. The only slasher I have ever seen capitalise on or exploit this connection is "Cheerleader Camp".

Also, watching it, I couldn't help but notice how much better looking it is than most low-budget horror films. It's not spectacular, ever, but it all looks competant and some of the shots are pretty swish for a low budget thing. The sound design is also very good.

"Blood Hook" is a good Troma pick-up and the DVD also has the great Jaws homage "Blades" and a piece of crap called "Zombie Island Massacre", all for a one DVD price. It's worth it for the two "b" movies. "Zombie Island Massacre" is just tolerable - but it should have been called "Drug Dealer Slasher Occasionally Kills".

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