Blood Beat

Who can survive its reign of terror?

Year of Release: 1983
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos


Helen Benton ... Cathy
Terry Brown ... Gary
Dana Day ... Dolly
James Fitzgibbons ... Ted
Claudia Peyton ... Sarah
Peter Spelson ... Uncle Pete


Sarah and her boyfriend Ted have decided to spend Christmas with Ted's mother at her home in rural Wisconsin. However, upon arriving, Sarah begins to feel a strange presence around her and soon after, a mysterious figure garbed in a Samurai outfit begins murdering the townsfolk, eventually setting his sights on Sarah, Ted, and his family...


Blood Beat, remindin' us that in Wisconsin it's possible to produce more cheese with a 35mm camera than 3500 head of dairy cattle.

And speakin' of things that oughta come with a Prozac prescription, I'm startin' to understand why so many people get depressed around Christmas time, 'cause it's supposed to be the season of givin' where we all come together to show goodwill toward our fellow man even though he's a colossal douche and... well, let's just take a look at our track record thus far.

In the year 1 hour B.C. - Jesus's pregnant mama can't get a room for the night after ridin' a hundred miles on assback with a baby pressin' against 'er bladder and hasta squeeze the savior out into a pile of hay where diarrhetic sheep've been sleepin' off their dysentery. Next thing, in the year 1984, a maniac in a Santa Claus suit rams a set of antlers through Linnea Quigley's immaculate mammaries. And now in the year 2022, I end up in the crossbar hotel for tryna return a wayward reindeer to jolly old Saint Nick.

Actually, now that I think about it, ole Nick Dinkel ain't been all that jolly since Trisha divorced 'im and left 'im with nothin' but the pitiful reindeer farm he's been runnin' over in Mulepiddle County ever since some huckster convinced 'im that reindeer meat was gonna be the wave of the future. But the point is, my friends and I were tryna do the right thing.

Nick leased eight of 'em to Asa Morton so he could pen 'em up in the parkin' lot at Hammer Time Hardware to entice more foot traffic, only one of 'em ended up escapin' on Christmas Eve and since the Fish & Game Department were all at home downin' Fireball whiskey to help drown out their in-laws' accusations about their bein' part of the Deep State, Nick decided to offer up $500 to anybody who could corral it before it went crashin' through somebody's dinin' room window and got its head blown off in front of little Timmy while he was assemblin' his new train set.

I don't mean to point fingers or anything, but this whole deal happened 'cause Tetnis decided to turn on the police scanner after two squad cars went blowin' by Sadie's place while we were waitin' around for the turkey syringe to pop out. I never have asked Tetnis what he used to do before he moved here 'cause I'd prefer not to wake up in a box with all my limbs sawed off like Sherilyn Feen in Boxing Helena, but he's been kinda jumpy around cops as long as I've known 'im.

Anyway, we joined the situation already in progress, but I remember mosta what was said in spite of the mild eggnog haze.

Dispatcher Magda Unger: --last reported tangled in the swings on the playground of Chickawalka Elementary, but nobody's seen it since around 5 this morning.

Deputy Don Dahl: And what're we supposed to do about it?

Lieutenant Diedra Duggen: Protect and serve, deputy. And take it alive if possible.

Deputy Don Dahl: Whatever you say, Lieutenant. Over and out.

Dispatcher Magda Unger: And just so you know - the owner's offered $500 for its capture.

Lieutenant Diedra Duggen: Great. Magda, put in a call to the E.R. - let them know they may be in for a busy after--.

I seem to remember that bein' about the point where Sadie reached over and snapped the scanner off.

"Don't even think about it," she threatened.

"Doh'n wook ah me," Billy said, holdin' up his hands to ward off any incoming punches.

"Give us a *little* credit," Cleave chuckled.

"Too cold out anyway," Tetnis agreed.

"I know how we could do it," I mumbled to myself from the far side of the kitchen island.

"Please behave you guys. The turkey will be ready soon," Mrs. Sadie whined, peekin' in through the oven window.

"Birdzilla's got at least three more hours and you know it," I challenged. "What the heck happened to you guys? $500 for the takin' and you just wanna sit here suckin' down peppermint schnapps watchin'... is that the Hallmark Channel?!" I growled.

Everybody leaned forward a little to inspect the picture and simultaneously started inspectin' the stitching on their boots, but before I could launch into a yuletide tirade Sadie grabbed me by the ear and led me into the hallway, where I'd fully intended to go of my own free will and not 'cause I was about to lose mosta my left lobe like some people would tell it.

"If you ruin Christmas she's gonna cry," Sadie explained, twistin' my neck toward the kitchen where Mrs. Sadie was reviewin' the Stovetop instructions. "And then you're gonna cry. Understand?" she whispered icily.

"What would we hafta do?" Cleave hollered from the livin' room, tryna salvage what remained of his masculinity.

"Cou' uve uh money," Billy considered.

"I dunno who put this on, but if I watch much more of it my pecker's gonna fall off and I've got no intention of becomin' a TV weatherman. Let's do it," Tetnis shuddered.

"Now you listen and listen good," Sadie hissed, stretchin' my ear out about an inch farther'n God intended. "Get whatever stupid stunt you have in your Cro-Magnon mind over within two hours and be back in time for dinner or you're all gonna sleep in Heavenly peace in the ICU, get it?"

"Ya know somethin'? You're cute when you're seething," I winked.

After the guys pulled Sadie offa my carcass we climbed into Tetnis's Dodge Dude and let it warm up while I explained the plan. First thing, we hadda borrow Skunky's horse trailer and a little hay. From there we'd putter on out to Bernard McGowan's place to secure some... um... sedative. Just in case, 'cause, well, I didn't really wanna think about what Sadie might do to us in the afterlife if we died before she got a chance to kill us. Lastly, a little alfalfa for bait and my old shop vac - again, just in case.

Piece of cake. Alls we hadda do was lure Splitzen into the trailer, shut the door, and haul 'im back to Nick's place. That was the easy part though, 'cause if we were gonna find the reindeer we hadda THINK like reindeer, so with that in mind I opened up the floor to chunkheaded suggestions.

"Pwowy hongwy," Billy suggested.

"Come on, man. Magda said the first sightin' was when Mavis Crenshaw caught 'im eatin' the wreath off 'er front door around 3:30 - dude's gotta be constipated if he ate the whole thing and the plastic Santa Claus in the middle," Cleave reasoned.

"Weow, whav yeow big i'ea ven?" Billy grumbled.

"Probably headin' for higher round. Think about it - the guy spends his whole life stuck posin' with kids for Christmas card photos and manages to break free? He'll be halfway to Bearcrack Mountain by now," Cleave asserted.

"In six feet of snow? Would YOU do that?" I scoffed.

"Full stomach, finally his own man, recently escaped a sausage fest of seven other stags - if *I* was him I'd be lookin' for chicks," Tetnis declared.

"Well, there it is - the stupidest thing I'll hear until Mrs. Sadie says grace," I groaned. "There ARE no chicks, Tetnis."

"Hang on. Maybe it's not... what about Rudy?" Cleave remarked, referring to the taxidermied prop he hauls out in front of Furry Mountain Stuffing every Christmas.

Rudy's real name was originally Ruthie but all the kids in town started callin' 'er Rudy when Cleave spray painted 'er nose red, and bein' the best lead we had at the time, Tetnis stomped the gas and away we went. Lady luck musta been on our side 'cause we couldn't have asked for better timing, and we pulled in just as our quarry was pullin' out.

"Looks like this's Rudy's last Christmas," Cleave lamented.

"How come?" Billy asked.

"You wanna clean 'im out?" Cleave offered.

"We'ow gonna miff ya, Wooby," Billy mourned.

We probably shoulda known better -- 'cause nothin' in life ever goes as smoothly as as this was goin', but as soon as Tetnis swung the door open and Donger saw that inviting pile of hay he climbed in and flopped down for a little siesta. He did not, however, appreciate havin' the door shut, and next thing we knew he was bouncin' off the walls like a .22 shell in a bomb shelter.

"Nobody panic, I thought this might happen," I tried reassurin' everyone as I grabbed the shop vac and the herbal essences we'd picked up at Bernard's place.

Fortunately, Skunky's old bull, Padre, had had a similar freakout the first time he got trailered and gored a coupla holes in the frame. So I stuffed the illicit substance inside the shop vac, brought it to a nice blaze, stuck the hose into one of the holes, and reversed the motor... right as Diedra Duggen pulled up in front of us.

"Morning boys," she smiled.

"Hey Diedra," Tetnis waved, sweatin' in spite of the -3 windchill.

"M'owin'," Billy acknowledged.

"It was all his idea!" Cleave squealed.

"Is that marijuana I smell?" she asked.

"They legalized it a few years back, guess news travels slow," Tetnis squirmed.

"How much ya got there?" she pressed.

"Two pounds. Precisely the legal limit for four law-abiding individuals," I smirked.

"I see. Seems like *you* are in possession of all of it though. Some people might see that as intent to distribute," she quipped.

"Oh come on Diedra, it happens to be smoldering at the moment and we both know no jury's gonna buy the idea of a marijuana fire sale," I insisted.

"You're probably right. Aww, look at him, fast asleep," she cooed, peekin' inside the slits in the top of the trailer.

"I guess you don't pose any serious threat to society. Still, you're not supposed to smoke that in public," she chided.

"Technically nobody's--" I started sayin'.

"And I'm sure you have a burn permit, right?" she continued.

"Um..." I stammered.

"Oh, and I see the registration on the trailer has lapsed in... wow," she observed.

"Okay, but it's Skunky's trailer," I protested.

"And Mr. Hernandez will vouch for that, I'm sure," she queried.

"He doesn't know we have it," Cleave snitched.

"Can I just say one thing?" I pleaded.

"Of course," she grinned.

"If an irate lesbian shows up to bail me out, don't let her," I said.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Safer in jail," I shrugged.

Diedra's alright for a cop, I spoze. Skunky didn't press charges for borrowin' the trailer, although he now claims to "own me," and says I'm gonna hafta pay for the damage caused by Basher throwin' 'imself around in there and makin' it look like a fully heated pan of Jiffy Pop. The guys were able to collect the reward money at least, and after payin' my fines we cleared a cool $16.74, which Tetnis insisted we owed 'im for gas money.

Sadie ended up stuffin' me in the dishwasher, but I was only in there for about two minutes before 'er missus made 'er let me out after hearin' my impassioned, badly scalded speech about how the police mighta been forced to gun down our furry friend if we hadn't rescued 'im in time. So, all in all, just your typical Christmas. Not really sure why I even brought it up, but you guys're such good listeners I guess just I couldn't help myself.

I hadda eat dinner in nothin' but a pair of Sadie's boxer shorts and think about what I did while my clothes were in the dryer, but the joke's on her 'cause that's how I eat dinner mosta the time anyway. The day wasn't a total loss though, as I successfully lobbied to murder the Hallmark Network so we could watch a half-assed Christmas flick called Blood Beat even though I have no idea what the title means and somebody decided to film it in the only place in Wisconsin where it don't snow on Christmas. I don't wanna get bogged down in negativity on Christmas though, so in the spirit of goodwill towards men, I'd like to say that it's the finest laserblastin' sci-fi Samurai epic ever made by a Vietnamese-born Frenchman. You think I'm kiddin', I can tell. Most guys wouldn't have the cajones to make a statement like that given all the competition it's had over the years, but I stand by assessment, and bein's how there're a few cynics out there who're gonna demand I show my work, I've selected a few of the film's most thought-provoking points to back up these claims. You can apologize for your disbelief later.

First, when there're more than two guns trained on an animal you're not part of a huntin' party so much as a firing squad. Second, wearin' a sleeveless camouflage vest will not only give away your position but very likely inspire woodland ghost stories passed down from buck to fawn about disembodied arms that stalk the forest, mercilessly killing can after can of Old Milwaukee. And third, there's a lotta disinformation goin' around about sex these days, so just to clarify - female orgasms CAN summon a P.O.'d Samurai - but usually only when someone's been screwin' around in a Kurosawa flick.

The movie begins with a bow hunter (Gary) skulkin' around the woods till he draws back on this doe that's so little she could get Bambi locked up for violatin' the local age of consent ordinance, and when he takes his trophy home to show his girlfriend (Cathy) her libido shrivels up and dies when she realizes just how pitiful his wanger must be to try impressin' 'er with a deer small enough to take on a United Airlines flight as an emotional support animal. Fortunately Cathy only hasta spend two or three hours regretin' every romantic decision she's made since 1954 'cause after awhile 'er kids (Ted and Dolly) arrive for Christmas weekend, and even though everyone thinks it's real weird that she bought a gift for Ted's chick (Sarah) without ever bein' told of 'er existence nobody presses the issue 'cause Cathy looks like Shelley Duvall from an alternate universe where the Overlook Hotel took control of Wendy instead of Jack Torrance. Then Ted shows Sarah to the guest room and starts tryna pa pump 'er bum bum, but Sarah can't concentrate 'cause Cathy's downstairs wearin' a gay pride poncho and pretendin' to paint a still life while riflin' through the safe deposit box in Sarah's memory bank with some kinda helicopter mom psychic searchlight. Eventually it gets so bad that Sarah agrees to go huntin' with Gary and the kids to see if they can't find a deer that doesn't have the words "fun size" shaved into its belly, 'cept when they finally spot an unsuspectin' whitetail out in the open and train their weapons on it like a firin' squad Sarah narcs 'em out and runs like hell. Probably not the wisest course of action considerin' folks in rural Wisconsin have been known to eat people for less, but Sarah gets a pass after she goes truckin' through the woods and runs into some weird beard buck hunter that looks like a wolverine just finished diggin' a bunkhouse in his gut bucket.

Gary calls an ambulance and the medics take the guy over to Gein's Mortuary to be fitted for a saucepan, but when they get home Sarah makes Ted take alla Cathy's paintins outta the guest room 'cause they remind 'er of the bathroom floor after a kegger at the sorority house. 'Course Ted got into college on an athletic scholarship sponsored by the Lumberjack Games Commission and so he don't realize the paintins've been put in place as protective wards to fend off inter-dimensional surrealists, and the moment they come off the walls Cathy gets possessed by Vincent Van Ghost and forced to create an abstract paintin' whose gestalt could destroy rural life as we know it were it ever to fall into the hands of the jaded, alcoholic gallery owners of Madison seeking to capitalize on the bumpkin chic trend. While that's goin' on, Sarah finds an old trunk fulla Samurai gear that eluded confiscation by the British Museum, only while she's pawin' at it she acquires some kinda spectral Hibachi Vision and is forced to watch some rube in a high-centered Chevy Blazer get Benihana'd to death. After that things get a little weird when Sarah goes to bed and starts tweakin' 'er nether nipple and unleashin' a supernatural serotonin Samurai who goes runnin' around the backwoods of Sauk County breathin' like Darth Vader and makin' katana cutlets outta the local Packer backers until he ends up puttin' an arrow through the back of a flea sanctuary named Paul and tacks 'im to Gary and Cathy's front door. Then all the kitchen utensils get possessed by the devil and go jitterbuggin' around like somebody needs to call Julia Child to perform an exorcism, 'cept when Gary goes to investigate the cabinets fly open and he ends up gettin' assaulted by various portions of a balanced breakfast while the lights go haywire like the aliens from Close Encounters're outside tryna find Don Sutton so they can take 'im back to his home planet.

This, of course, is merely a distraction to keep everyone occupied and moderately soiled while the Son of Samurai sneaks in and tries Ginsuin' Ted and Dolly into caucasian casserole, only about that time Cathy starts makin' like Zelda Rubinstein and chargin' up these tactical Mega Buster hand howitzers she's been outfitted with until Ninja Raiden gets scared and splits before he gets hadouken'd back to Yokohama. Suffice to say, Cathy knows more'n she's lettin' on, but bein's she won't spill it and it's too dark to finish their game of Monopoly, Ted goes upstairs to make the sign of the phantasmic pork plunger with Sarah even though she just finished givin' 'erself a pubic noogie and next thing ya know the Wisconsin Shredder rematerializes and starts ransackin' deer camps until Old Milwaukee's market share drops by five and a half points. The next mornin', Gary and Ted stake out a clearing and wait for the douchido to show 'imself, but when Gary gets an opening and gives the Glogun Assassin a tummy tuck with a splittin' maul it just evaporates and everyone gets this look on their face like they just realized there's a spectral Samurai streaker runnin' loose through the forest. Cathy tells Gary to go build a forge and smelt the armor and it seems like things're back under control until Sarah starts lightin' Cathy's school photos on fire with 'er pyrokinetic press-on nails and blastin' blue filter fireball magic at Ted for no apparent reason before finally sayin' 'the heck with it' and turnin' into a Power Rangers miniboss and fillin' the house with deadly bug zapper rays even though he knows he's cheatin' and that he'll prolly hafta seppuku 'imself later. I feel like I better stop talkin' right here 'cause if I don't you may not be able to suspend your disbelief for what's comin' and that'd be a real shame since they went through a lotta trouble and upwards of $17 to put it on film.

Alrighty, so, I don't claim to've been on the ground durin' the production of Blood Beat, but best as I can tell, it seems like half the plot got held up in customs and they decided to go ahead and make the movie anyway. Believe me when I tell ya I'm not tryna make a direct comparison to Troll 2 because nothin' else comes close, but we've got a situation here where a Vietnamese-born French filmmaker wrote a script to be filmed in English in the states, and I guess nobody told 'im that we're a simple people and that over here, if you're gonna summon ephemeral Samurai warriors though the medium of female orgasms we're not generally gonna make that connection unless you explain it to us; preferably with visual aids. And I don't mean that he tried to explain it and it just didn't come across. I mean when you're watchin' this thing you're supposed to recognize and accept that a family livin' out in the boonies of rural Wisconsin has been imbued with magical powers and that the ghost of an evil Samurai specter is inhabiting the body of one of the kids' +1s so that they can lay in bed flickin' their magic bean, thereby releasin' a vengeful spirit to roam the Earth and chop the heads offa unsuspecting buck hunters until the phantasm goes all-in and attacks the family with cosmic blue death rays that they must fend off with their hitherto unknown positively-charged red space lasers. Maybe it's like Jerry Lewis and it makes perfect sense to the French but we don't understand it, I dunno.

Admittedly, the argument could be made that there's no reason to try explainin' this stuff since nobody'd believe it anyway, but when you're makin' a B movie it's important to understand that your audience is gonna cut you a lotta slack so long as you at least *try* explainin' what the magic powers are, how this family acquired them, why the co-ed's hoo-ha spasm unleashes an irritable electric blue Ninja, and what connection, if any, he's got to the folks with the photon torpedo appendages. I'm not sure how much sense I'm makin' 'cause I've watched this thing twice now and I still don't get it, but imagine tryna understand Star Wars if George Lucas'd edited out all the Obi-Wan Kenobi exposition scenes. That's where they went wrong - they needed a wise old Indian, or a grizzled old prospector, or maybe a shriveled-up mystic seer hag who lives off the grid in the mist-shrouded bog on the other side of the mountain who could come down outta the hills and explain all this stuff and be promptly killed by the P.O.'d apparition for snitchin'. I don't mean to be negative, and I'm not tryna lay out a buncha unrealistic expectations for a flick about a metaphysical Samurai wearin' flip-flops, butcha gotta help us out a little so we don't just give up and wear out the tape by rewindin' the Samurai summoning sequence on loop.

I'm startin' to think the whole Christmas thing mighta been a bit of an afterthought too, but Fabrice flew 4500 miles from Paris to the wilds of Wisconsin to tell this story, and so I'm gonna try showin' a little goodwill toward man even though he kept Claudia Peyton's danglers shrouded in darkness mosta the time.

The plot doesn't make a lick of sense from start to finish and fails to follow its own rules with regard to the appearance of the Samurai - sometimes he requires an orgasmic offering before he'll pop in and murder some hicks, while other times he works pro-bono. Should you decide to sit down and actually watch this sucker you'll probably find yourself shruggin' off the more sensationalistic aspects thinkin' that they're buildin' to something and that eventually all will be revealed, but I can assure you that ain't the case. It very briefly borrows from Poltergeist and Close Encounters during the home invasion sequence, but whatever else you wanna say about it it's highly original, and for some people that might be enough even though Charlie Band's Ghost Warrior does something similar - just with a more down-to-earth approach. You heard that right - this flick makes a comperable film made by the man who produced Evil Bong and The Gingerdead Man seem focused and logically sound by comparison; take from that what you will.

The acting is fairly rough, and although all the principal actors rarely rise above the level of community theater, there's not a lot you can do with lines like: "What do you think I am, anyway? Just some kind of piece of plastic you can just push around, and then dispose of me when I'm all finished?" and "Man, your music makes me wanna pee!" I played that first line back to make sure I heard it correctly, and yeah, it was probably flubbed, but most of it was spoken as written. Terry Brown, Claudia Peyton, and James Fitzgibbons give the best performances, but only 5/17 credited castmembers have any additional acting credits, and when you consider that nearly all the special effects were done in post-production and that the shoot took eight weeks to complete, kinda makes you wonder how long it took to get usable footage and how bad the unused takes were. Still, I've gotta give credit to Zaphiratos, the director, for gettin' dressed up in flannel padding and divin' through that window due to a lack of stuntmen, 'cause that not only took guts, but it turned out pretty well.

Here's who matters and why: Peter Spelson (The Psychotronic Man).

If not for the incomprehensible plot the special effects would be the film's weakest link, and although it's perfectly understandable that they look the way they do given the financial limitations, the cheesiness cannot be overlooked. What we've got, for the most part, is a collection of glowing silhouettes that outline various characters and kinda remind you of the moment in a 16-bit fighting game when your fighter's about to uncork their special ability. That said, unlike a lot of the movie's other problems, the special effects are endearing in their inadequacy, though there really isn't much to speak of beyond the post-production stuff. There's a little blood here, the deer was a real carcass that they were able to secure after a traffic accident, and the semi-hollowed stomach of the dead hunter isn't bad, but with such a limited budget they couldn't afford to try anything elaborate.

The shooting locations are the film's strongest asset and the cinematographer does a respectable job capturing them even when he gets stuck usin' a handheld camera. The two residences are neat and offer a unique regional flavor you're only gonna see when the script calls for a farmhouse tucked away in the freezin' ass backcountry of Wisconsin, and the exterior shots of plowed under farmland and pine forests succeed in creating a much-needed sense of isolation, because, let's face it - if it's only a three-minute drive to town the rampagin' Samurai menace kinda loses its teeth. That said, for a movie filmed in Wisconsin that's supposed to be set during the Christmas holiday, the lack of snow is a real disappointment. If I had to guess I'd say they were probably shooting in October given that all the trees are bare and there's an absence of visible breath, but whatever the case, when the flick is set on or around Christmas the audience is usually dreamin' of a white one, and it's a bummer when ya don't get it.

The soundtrack consists of two things - synthesizer tunes that're dated even by the standards of 1983 and that'd be right at home in an episode of In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy, and classical music that'd fallen into the public domain a century before the public domain was even a thing. The cheesy synth music leans more toward science fiction than horror (although that's to be expected given the age of the synthesizer being utilized), but despite its silliness, it's kinda charming. Credit for the rest of the soundtrack mostly belongs to Antonio Vivaldi, whose Four Seasons gets a lot of airtime and often feels as though it was only inserted because the editor looked at the flick sans scoring and decided overusing the classical music was a better option than leaving it silent. You probably think the score couldn't get any more ridiculous and you could be forgiven for that, but I'd be derelict in my duties if I didn't mention that the final showdown, rife with the poverty row production values I've just mentioned, takes place in a bathroom and is set to Carmina Burana's O Fortuna, and after about three seconds it will become clear why this piece of music has only been used for farcical purposes for the last 50 years. It's really somethin'.

Overall, the director has described the flick as "unfinished," and at no point in the proceedings will you ever come close to understanding what's going on, or even what was intended, but if you're lookin' for something the likes of which you've never seen, Blood Beat is a must-see. The production values are shoddy, nothing makes sense, and when you get right down to it it's really just a movie that happens to be set during Christmas rather than an actual Christmas flick, but it's worth a watch just for the last five minutes when the film's already abysmal technical score hits rock bottom at the exact moment when its entertainment score goes through the roof. Check it out, but be sure to employ the buddy system and be aware of the risks involved, as there have been documented cases of early-onset dementia linked to tryna understand the story.

Rating: 29%