Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - you can't get to it.
Year of Release: 1980
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: Jeffrey Bloom
David Huffman ... Harry Caulder
Marianna Hill ... Catherine Hutton
Burt Young ... Sergeant Royko
Otis Young ... Lieutenant Piantadosi
Lena Pousette ... Marie
John Saxon ... Captain Pearson
Darrell Fetty ... Hoagy
Stefan Gierasch ... Dr. Dimitrios
Ruth screams for help as she desperately tries to free herself but there is no escape. The sand pulsates, like a heartbeat - and then nothing. An atmosphere of terror takes over what becomes known as BLOOD BEACH.
Blood Beach... tide comes in, tide goes out, subterranean flytrap monster burrows up from the depths of the Earth to destroy the national sandcastle buildin' finals, you can't explain that, an I'm not even gonna try. But speakin' of things that aughta be six feet under, some of you might recall a few weeks back when I promised Edgar Mastrude was gonna get his for rippin' off me an my fellow video-heads in that fraudulent VHS tape rewindin' scam, well, things may've gone a little too far. See, it's like this; Billy Hilliard, Cleave Furguson an I were up at The Gutter Bowl mindin' our own business, watchin' B.J. Wilder an The Alley Cats battle The Bowldozers on league night, when we spotted Edgar at the bar hittin' on Bambi Pankins. Now, to give you an idea of just how pathetic Edgar is, even Bambi wouldn't go home with 'im until last call'd ended an she was completely sure she wasn't gonna get picked up by this profoundly drunk landscaper. Anyway, Edgar, despite bein' what you might call a one man obesity epidemic, apparently can't handle more'n about two shots of Wild Turkey before passin' out, fallin' off his stool, an causin' all the drinks on the bar to jostle like that cup of water in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is comin' to chew everybody's heads off. So, bein the concerned citizens we are, we took Edgar out to Walleye's Topless Dancin' & Bait Shop to have Tetnis look 'im over, an once he'd been given a clean bill of health (unlike the floor mats in the Topaz after Cleave tried bucklin' a seat belt around that diabetic walrus), we declared 'im fair game. So we drove 'im out to Skunky Hernandez' cow pasture, peeled off his clothes, an took a few Polaroids of 'im with Skunky's cattle an left 'im there. That's all that was supposed to happen, but in retrospect, calvin' season might not've been the best time for that particular prank. I guess Edgar got a little more action than he'd anticipated, cause Bambi said his pocket pickle looked like an old banana that'd been sittin' in the bottom of a lunchbox for three weeks after it was all over. I didn't ask how she knew about it, cause that's the kinda conversation your lunch rarely survives, but the worst part about it is that since the last thing he remembered was sittin' at the bar with Bambi, now he wants to marry 'er. I don't even know which one of 'em to feel sorry for at this point, so I'll prolly just find someplace else to hang out for awhile until this thing blows over.
Cripes almighty, I dunno why the two of 'em don't just get blow up dolls or somethin', it's not like it'd be that big of a stretch anyhow; Bambi's head's fulla air, an Edgar's gotta be at least partially deflated in the wangdoodle region, what with how much blood it takes just to keep all his organs goin'. I gotta talk about somethin' else, this whole conversation's givin' me the dry heaves. Fortunately, we got Blood Beach this week, which is the ideal movie for anybody who loves the idea of goin' to the beach, but without havin' to deal with all the obnoxious dude-bros an beach bimbi that insist on sharin' it with you. Not only that, but it's also the precursor to the criminally under-used "gore from the Earth's core" subgenre that includes flicks like The Being an Tremors, so let's have a look-see at just a few of the things this pioneer of subterranean chicanery has to teach us. First, when your stewardess girlfriend promises to "bring you something" back from 'er latest trip, you might wanna stop off at the drug store before she gives it to you. Second, men are a lot like dogs, cause we both really appreciate havin' somebody to stand guard while we eat our dinner. All you women out there can just save any additional similarities you were thinkin' about contributing. An third, even your optometrist's gonna have a hard time identifyin' your remains from just an eyeball.
But while we're on the topic of beaches, I've got an observation I'd like to make. Remember how back in the '80s an '90s there used to be all these ads for metal detectors interruptin' USA Up All Night an TNT's 100% Weird? An you remember how it'd always have these slightly stoned lookin' people who'd be sittin' at their kitchen tables showin' off all the valuables they found with their new Fuckall Finder 5000? You ever notice how the only people who use these things for anything other'n land mine detection are always bored retirees with absolutely nothin' else to do but stare at people passin' by their porches, an hang around the pollin' place 3 hours before votin' even starts? Well, I'll tell you why that is; it's cause there AIN'T nothin' valuable out there to find, cause people don't leave their valuables lyin' in the dirt no matter how guilty it makes 'em feel to cheat on their spouses in the serenity of nature. If they did, you'd be seein' YOUNG people with no futures wanderin' around the banks of Lake Gunkamucka with these things tryin' to find enough Rolexes an engagement rings to pay their rent. Instead, the only people you ever see usin' 'em are these old farts with their pants pulled up so high that they can actually give themselves a dutch oven if they eat too much Polish sausage. An even they only do it to get away from their wives' soap operas. Somethin' else you might've noticed; they always do it where people can see 'em, cause the detector's a conversation starter, an conversation means havin' a little more of your life occupied before you finally kick the bucket. In my day folks had respectable hobbies, like woodworkin' an pornography collectin'; what the heck happened? Now sure, once in a while you can use one to figure out if the bullet from your gunshot wound is lodged in your torso or whether it passed through, but in general, these things're just another scam that targets the elderly. So next time some guy comes to the door tryin' to sell you one of these things, strike a blow for reality an tell 'em that if you wanted to dig up bottle caps all day you can always root around in the bed of your truck for free.
The movie begins with a scary-cam wanderin' around the beach starin' up at this fancy hotel that looks like it got transplanted from Venice while the credits roll, after which some guy who looks like a werewolf with mange (Harry) comes walkin' out an starts swimmin' to work. Cept about that time the director remembers he owes us an openin' jolt, an pretty quick this beach bunny who lost the bounce in 'er bra about 20 years ago gets sucked down into the sand like a Top Flite #3 at Pacific Dunes. Course, the worst thing about this is that not only did Harry used to bang around with the lady's daughter, but he hasta find out about what happened from Paulie from the Rocky movies, an Paulie's about as sympathetic as a Saudi Arabian prison interrogator. So Harry an his friend with hair that looks like corkscrew pasta (Hoagy) drive over to the lady's house to tell 'er daughter (Catherine) what happened an make awkward small talk, until the elephant on the beach volleyball court can no longer be ignored, but she insists that she ain't leavin' until her mama turns up or she gets offered a part in a better movie. So later that evenin', Cathy's out walkin' on the beach when this crazy bag lady who looks like Billy Drago after a losin' battle with skin cancer comes up to 'er an tells 'er her mama's been raped, murdered, an buried in the sand someplace, but that she shouldn't get too upset about it cause it happens all the time. You'll hafta excuse the bag lady. She just hadn't been 'erself since she got ousted from the local tourist board. Elsewhere, Harry an his girlfriend (Marie) are in bed fightin' for pole positioning, cept the director musta been the same guy that attaches the hooks to Malcolm McDowell's eyelids in Clockwork Orange, cause the bedspring symphony gets interspersed with scenes of the dead lady's dog sniffin' around the beach until whatever pulled the old lady down rips the dog's head off an swallows the rest of the Kit & Kapoodle whole. The next mornin', Harry an Cathy're out reminiscin' about the good ole days when he'd ask 'er to marry 'im an she'd laugh in his face, while another girl gets 'er tenderloins turned into Dinty Moore stew meat.
By this point, the police chief is P.O.'d. Course, John Saxon's the chief, an he always looks like he's about one screwed up McDonald's order away from goin' postal, so John radios out to all units that he wants the beach berserker apprehended like right now before the city council calls up Roy Scheider to take over his job. So the police dig up the beach an find 3477 used condoms, 624 dirty syringes, 125 Billy Beer cans, 19 afro combs, an a couple of Annette Funicello's bullet bras, but no evidence to link the murders to the Morlocks, C.H.U.D.s, or Boogens. Then, the next evenin', Hoagy's chick, who obviously doesn't pay any attention while he's tellin' 'er how his day at work went, goes down onto the beach to rescue this pelican that's chokin' on a can of Copenhagen, when she gets attacked by Bob Rooney from Married with Children an hasta punch 'im right in his conch shells to get 'im off of 'er. Fortunately, before he can regroup an get at 'er goodies, the Sandman enters his chest cavity from below an next thing you know his entrails get turned into outrails. The next mornin', John calls the local veterinary coroner (who examined the severed dog's head previously) into his office to find out what in the name of Burt Gummer's graboid grapplin' grapes of grandiose grit is goin' on around here, an when the guy explains that they've got subterranean sand people lurkin' below the beach tryin' to ambush Luke Skywalker, John gets this look on his face like he's tryin' to figure out whether it's too early to start drinkin'. Then later that night Marie comes home from stewardessin' an gets 'er sunhat blown off onto the beach an... well, her seat cushions get used as a bloatation device as they slip down the monster's gullet. So, bein' the adoring, loyal boyfriend he is, Harry packs up his dinner an takes it over to Catherine's place to show 'er how he's mastered the art of silverware while she's been away, an discuss the details of their utterly unfulfillin' lives in detail so they'll be one step closer to patchin' things up in case Marie decides to marry some billionaire from one of 'er flights. This new arrangement is made all the easier when Harry finds Marie's car, sunhat, an the "I got pounded at Sandy's" shot glass she'd picked up for 'im, but no Marie. So John orders the backhoe onto the beach again an this time they find an eyeball buried under the sunhat, only it ain't much help cause guys can never remember the color of their girlfriend's eyes.
Then John hasta go to a meetin' with Paulie an get grilled by the conservatives on the city council about what he's doin' to make sure they can catch the culprit without havin' to increase taxes on their beach front properties, til John gets P.O.'d an tells 'em to either get 'im some backup units or go back to their polo match an stay out of his face. Meanwhile, Harry an Cathy're down on the boardwalk exchangin' confused, longing gazes at each other until Harry decides to go root around in the cellar of the burned up PacSun building an gets this look on his face like somebody just shoved a potato up his tailpipe, even though there's nothin' down there but empty Capri Sun pouches an a pack of rancid hot dogs. Then Harry an Cathy go listen to Hoagy sing at the bar an that gives 'em so little hope for the future of mankind that they hafta immediately go home an start tryin' to breed a race of human beins with genes strong enough to combat the genetic condition known as "dude syndrome" affectin' the community. But elsewhere, there's another break in the case when some sanitation worker comes crawlin' up outta the sewer lookin' like he's been raped by a school of barnacles, the sight of which is so disgustin' that it almost puts Paulie off his cheeseburger. An if that ain't bad enough, back on the beach, Hoagy's havin' to try coaxin' the crazy bag lady outta this 3'x3' cubby hole in the ruins of the old pier cause some slum lord's plannin' to fix it up an charge $1800 a month for it, when all the sudden he starts feelin' the earth move under his feet, an pretty quick Hoagy gets turned into an open-faced grinder. Then Harry gets a groupa guys together to check out the ruined cellar again, only when they get down there they discover Cathy's already had the same thought, an pretty quick Cathy's mama's head comes swingin' down at 'er like the hangin' lightbulb in an attic, causin' 'er screams of terror to trigger an avalanche that brings down all the walls an fills up everybodys shoes with leftover people goo. Now John figures he's got the beach creatch right where he wants it, so he has his guys rig the cellar with Gunker Buster explosives an cameras from Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, an lie in wait for the sand mauler to come home from work. Cuttin' the summary off here, so if you wanna know what happens, you're gonna need either Ebay or a less scrupulous critic.
Alrighty, well, not exactly on par with the high standard set by Tremors a decade later, but still watchable due to the presence of John Saxon and Burt Young. The conversation Burt has with the lady whose husband got eaten by the critter while he was out metal detecting on the beach alone is worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, these subterranean terror flicks were a real rarity in the days before CGI, so even when the movie isn't exactly of the highest caliber, I usually enjoy them. The Being was another fun one about a creature that oozes around the city through underground tunnels. Of course, The Being was a lot less ashamed of itself, and was more forthcoming with shots of the monster, whereas in this movie you don't actually get a look at it until the last five minutes, and that never stops bugging me no matter how many filmmakers do it. That's the difference between a director who's scared shitless that they may never work again if they let you get a good look at their crappy monster, and a director who's come to terms with the fact that they're probably makin' a schlock movie that nobody but us dregs of society types are gonna ever watch. Guess which type I prefer. Anyhow, this is probably the point where everyone else who's ever reviewed this thing would stop to talk about the similarities between Blood Beach and Jaws, so I suppose I'll go there too; after all, the tagline is literally word for word the tagline from Jaws 2, just with a few extra words tacked on. And I suppose you've got the fact that the monster needs to be dealt with because it's killing the tourism industry, the main character being a cop whose family becomes imperiled by the creature, another cop who moved to this beat from a much bigger city (Burt Young's character references Chicago about a half dozen times), and the city council gettin' in John Saxon's way in a similar fashion to how Murray Hamilton kept hamstringin' Roy Scheider in the first two Jaws flicks. Actually, when you think about it, if you combine John Saxon, Burt Young, and David Huffman's personality types, you've kinda got a Roy Scheider composite, cause Roy was usually pretty professional most of the time (like Saxon's character), impulsive and easily P.O.'d when he didn't get his way (like Young's character), and sincerely concerned, yet frequently clueless about how to get anything done (like Huffman's character). It's a little unfocused too, what with how it bounces around among all three characters who seldom seem to be in the same place at the same time, but it has its moments. Like when all the corpses come sloppin' outta the walls near the conclusion. People love the scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 when the same thing happens, but does Blood Beach get any credit for that? Heck no it doesn't.
Anyhow, let's swallow this sucker and find out if it passes through cleanly, or just comes back up like a Big Mac with gangrene secret sauce. The plot, while a little skimpy on the details, and prone to occasionally throwing in exposition completely out of nowhere, is fairly decent. You might rightly ask why this creature that crawled up from deep within the Earth would go to the trouble of consolidating its victims to one convenient location for the cops to find (or whether it'd likely have the intelligence to do this), but in general, I like the plot just fine. It's kinda the bridge between Jaws and Tremors when you get right down to it, and those are two of my favorite movies. Additionally, the acting is a whole lot better than you'd expect from a flick that, as yet, hasn't even gotten a Region 1 DVD release. John Saxon is pretty good as the stressed out chief of police, although he's somewhat hamstrung by a weak script that doesn't allow him to better showcase his talents. Burt Young is also entertaining as the "seen-it-all" beat cop from Chicago who was tragically born without an empathy center. The funny thing about that character is that it almost seems to have been bolted on at the last minute for comic relief, because even though it's an enjoyable character, he's completely gratuitous. The rest of the cast doesn't have anything to be ashamed of either, but nor do any of them contribute anything even approaching a breakout performance.
Here's who matters and why (I'm including John Saxon even though I really shouldn't have to): Marianna Hill (Messiah of Evil, Schizoid, The Astral Factor, The Baby), Burt Young (Blue Lake Butcher, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Amityville II, Carnival of Blood), Otis Young (The Clones, The Capture of Bigfoot), John Saxon (From Dusk Till Dawn, A Nightmare on Elm Street 1, 3, & 6, Hellmaster, The Arrival 1991, Blood Salvage, Aftershock, My Mom's a Werewolf, Nightmare Beach, Criminal Act, Death House, Hands of Steel, Prisoner of the Lost Universe, Tenebre, The Scorpion with Two Tails, Battle Beyond the Stars, Cannibal Apocalypse, Beyond Evil, The Bees, Strange New World, Black Christmas 1974, Planet Earth, Queen of Blood, Blood Beast from Outer Space), Stefan Gierasch (Megaville, Spellbinder, Carrie, Blue Sunshine), Pamela McMyler (Halloween II), Harriet Medin (The Terminator, The Witches of Eastwick, Death Race 2000, Schlock, The Murder Clinic, Blood and Black Lace, Black Sabbath, The Ghost 1963, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, The Whip and the Body), Mickey Fox (Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype), Laura Burkett (Rush Week), Christopher Franklin (Saturday the 14th Strikes Back), Bobby Bass (The Ninth Configuration), Read Morgan (Back to the Future, Nomads, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension, A Stranger is Watching, The Munsters' Revenge, The Beach Girls and the Monster, Meteor, Time After Time, The Car, Helter Skelter 1976, Shanks, Sleeper, Octaman), Marcus Chong (The Matrix, The Crow 4, Evil Altar), Mary Jo Catlett (Serial Mom, How to be a Serial Killer, Legend of the Mummy), Ian Abercrombie (Jack Frost 2, Jurassic Park 2, Rattled, Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000, Addams Family Values, Army of Darkness, Puppet Master III, Repossessed, Warlock, Catacombs, The Ice Pirates, Young Frankenstein, Wicked Wicked), Lavelle Roby (Freaks of Nature, Love at First Bite), Jimmy Ogg (The Space Children), Stefanie Auerbach (Slipping into Darkness), Lynne Marta (Help Me... I'm Possessed, Genesis II). There're even some mainstream roles for you people out there who shun the better things in life, and those credits are as follows: Marianna Hill (Collie Travers in High Plains Drifter), Burt Young (Leo Poplar in Win Win, Joe in Once Upon a Time in America, and of course, Paulie from the Rocky series), Otis Young (Mulhall in The Last Detail), John Saxon (Roper in Enter the Dragon, with Bruce Lee), Mary Jo Catlett (Pearl Gallagher on Diff'rent Strokes, and the voice of Mrs. Puff on Spongebob Squarepants), and Ian Abercrombie (the voice of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Sidious on Star Wars: The Clone Wars).
The special effects are a little lackluster, and as I mentioned earlier, this fact is not lost on the director. Actually, to be fair, the monster isn't completely terrible in terms of how it looks, because it is at least interesting. The problem comes with how stiff it is, which really limits what the crew would have been able to do with it. I'm guessing it was animatronic, but it's difficult to say for certain. The rest of the effects are pretty meager, but include some ketchup smeared on the legs of the victim who gets chewed on while she's buried in the sand (wouldn't be as big a deal if there wasn't dialog after the fact questioning whether she'd ever walk again), the large volume of blood that pours outta the would-be rapist (a little thin, but good coloration), and the severed dog head (which is shot at night and nearly impossible to see). Beyond that, you've got the holes that open up beneath the monster's victims, and truthfully, they're every bit as good as the scenes from Tremors where all you're seeing is the person vanishing beneath the dirt. The biggest problem isn't so much quality, as quantity, particularly from a movie titled Blood Beach. The shooting locations are pretty good, with the entire movie being shot on the beaches of Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. Not as eye-pleasing as Martha's Vinyard, which was where Jaws was filmed, but still pretty nice. There isn't too much to mention aside from the beach sequences; you've got a little Mom & Pop hamburger stand (run by a rather large woman named Moose), the lead characters' apartments, the police station, and a bar with a small stage. The bar sequence is shot so tightly that I'd wager it was probably filmed inside one of the crew members' living rooms, but it's pretty short and gets the job done. So despite not being the most picturesque beach in the country, the locations are still pleasant. The soundtrack runs the gamut from utterly forgettable, to being so cheesy you'll literally laugh out loud. From what I remember about the tracks that attempt to generate atmosphere, you've got a weird combination of Evil Dead II and Troll, with some synthesized keyboard music thrown in for no apparent reason. Don't get me wrong, Evil Dead 2 and Troll both have great soundtracks, that's just the best way I could describe the movie's unsatisfying musical accompaniment. Then you've got the Chuck Mangione horn music that sounds like a "Put Your Woman in the Mood for Love" album released by Time Life, that pops up when David Huffman starts gettin' some action. I find it totally bizarre to think that that stuff actually put(s) anyone in the mood to do anything but drink cheap wine out of a box and watch old home movies from before their divorce. Overall, it just barely fails on a technical level, but I like it enough to compensate for that slight technical deficiency, thus granting the movie the minimum passing score. So if you liked Tremors, or better yet, The Being, you might enjoy this one as well.