You can't worm your way out.
Year of Release: 1986
Running Time: 90 minutes (1:30)
Director: Jim Mallon
Mark Jacobs ... Peter van Clease
Lisa Jane Todd ... Ann
Patrick Danz ... Rodney
Sara Hauser ... Kiersten
Christopher Whiting ... Finner
Don Winters ... Leroy Leudke
Paul Drake ... Wayne Duerst
Bill Lowrie ... Evelyn Duerst
Sandy Meuwissen ... Bev D.
Welcome to the "Muskie Madness" fishing tournament where the fish aren't the only ones getting hooked. Five students on vacation take the bait as a crazed killer tries to make them the catch of the day.
Blood Hook, remindin' us that it's important to always check out the new fishin' regulations every year, cause the last thing you want is for that uppity little weenie of a game warden to show up an confiscate your rod for bein' over the limit on obnoxious city punks. Ever since Friday the 13th came out the Department of Fish & Wildlife's really been crackin' down on the bag limits for these jerks, mostly cause they're too scared to go campin' anymore an they're gettin' pretty scarce these days.
An speakin' of "Muskie Madness", these Troma guys haven't got a clue about just how serious that affliction can get if left untreated. Around here, Muskie Madness is the scientific name for spendin' too much time around Skunky Hernandez when he's wearin' those bib overalls out in the July sun. It's kinda interestin' really, see what happens is the sunshine actually gets bright enough to penetrate into the nether regions of the overalls, at which point whatever it is that's livin' down there starts photosynthesizin' the light into some kinda hallucinogenic gas that we call "Toxygen." Every now an then we get these guys from the EPA out here testin' to see how many parts per million we've got in the air, an sometimes they have to turn on that big siren on toppa the Dollar General so everybody'll run home an hunker down under the kitchen table til they say it's okay to come out. We've also had a few teams of scientists come out to try confirmin' Toxygen as a previously undiscovered noble gas, but to date that's proven impossible since none of 'em can tolerate more'n about an hour around Skunky an that's just not enough time to complete the scientific method from start to finish. It ain't really their fault, cause after about an hour of prolonged exposure to Skunky's natural aroma, most men develop the inescapable urge to climb onto people's roofs an sexually assault their weather vanes, while any pregnant women caught in the waft radius tends to pop out young'uns with extra limbs. A few years back we actually hadda start doin' timed trial runs of our 4th of July parade to make sure it'd come in under an hour on account of the great penile tetanus outbreak of 2008, when Skunky showed up unexpectedly at the parade an about halfa the male population started seein' Kate Moss's nekkid body on toppa every barn an church steeple for a 10 block radius. To be fair, it's pretty easy to confuse Kate for a weather vane even under normal circumstances, but our three police officers had a heck of a time corrallin' the 200 sweaty, tweaked-out sex maniacs on the loose, an the staters ended up chargin' us three times our annual GDP to get things under control again. Course, Skunky can't bring 'imself to part with his overalls an so our one chance to be famous for somethin' other'n Turberus (the three headed turkey Aesop Marlin shot back in '89) is prolly never gonna amount to anything, an my tell-all novel about Skunky'll prolly sit on the shelf next to my "We Are the Weird" newsletter archive forever. But I guess it's not that important, I mean, if money really brought happiness Saul an Blaine Schwartzberg wouldn't be screamin' at each other outside of their bridal boutique about whether or not they'd be forsakin' God if they were to order more dress colors than just seashell, snow, an beige.
In any event, Blood Hook is culturally significant in that it was directed by one of the guys that was able to convince a TV station there was comedic value in ridiculin' cinematic scat, an for bein' one of the rare Troma movies that doesn't go completely gonzo an crank the self awareness up to 11 so as to justify makin' somethin' completely unwatchable. Back in the 80s they could still rein in their crazy enough to make somethin' kinda resemblin' a movie, rather'n a short film that'd get a D- in a middle school student film festival. Besides, Jim Mallon made this nonsense an I dunno about anybody else but I'm not about to let 'im forget it, so I'll run down just a few snippets of wisdom I data mined from this thing an then we'll get down to business. First, girlfriends can be stored inside mini fridges for up to 24 hours with only minor spoilage of their dispositions. Second, in rural Wisconsin, baby's first treble hook wound is a lot like the chicken pox; just a natural part of growin' up that's good to get out of the way as early as possible. In fact, if you get way out into the hills where the hardcore Scott Walker supporters live, they swear by the puncture party. Which is where they round up all their kids together in the high school gymnasium an watch their local fishin' legend whip 10 separate fly lines around in circles before eventually castin' 'em out an snaggin' as many kids as possible. I hear it's really a sight to behold. An third, when a grumpy old Swede tells you to "respect the water", an the first thing you do is pitch an Old Milwaukee can into the drink, you pretty much deserve what you get.
But those are really just small potatoes, an as we all know, Troma movies always seem to have the answer to at least one of life's great mysteries. This time around, they seem to have inexplicably stumbled onto the secret to attainin' the perfect sexual encounter. Now, if you're the observant type an not just watchin' these flicks to get somebody to sit in the dark with you to forget how ugly you are, you'll notice that in the scene where Ann flops down on top of Peter (no pun intended) like a brain damaged Muskie, the catalyst for said floppin' was Peter's declaration that he "wasn't sure if she was what he wants." This isn't technically a break up in an of itself but it's pretty close, an what that means is that for the first time in years, any sex they have now is kinda like doin' somebody they're not really involved with. I don't claim to completely understand this cause as far as I'm concerned, women just get in the way of enjoyin' classic cinema, what with all their screams an vomitin', but I'm pretty sure this makes sense. So as best as I can make out, break up sex is like the king of the sexcapade. Not to be confused with make up sex, or especially wake up sex, which is often a traumatic experience cause it's generally been 24 hours since you last saw the girl without makeup an've prolly forgotten what a nightmare it was. Sides, make up sex is kinda like the poorman's break up sex anyway, cause whatever you were fightin' about beforehand obviously wasn't serious enough to cause a break up so it's kinda watered down, sorta like tryin' to use KY Jelly in the bathtub. So I think that the message of this movie is that if your sex life is in need of some reinvigoratin', you aughta consider breakin' up with your significant other an see if that makes 'em look any less like a Mack truck with a dead razorback stuck in the grille. An just so we're clear, if you try it out an it works, please don't come up to me on the street an give me all the details. My personal relationship with the church is tenuous enough as it is.
The movie begins with this old guy fishin' out on the dock of his lakeside cabin just mindin' his own business listenin' to the latest hit single by The Bass Masters cabaret singers, til the music begins to overpower his sensory receptors an he ends up gettin' hooked through the gizzards like he's starrin' in a Deadliest Catch outtake before bein' yanked into the lake an turned into a low tech fish finder. 17 years later, these completely mismatched teenagers who musta met through the juvenile hall pen pal program (Peter, Ann, Rodney, Kiersten, an Finner) are headin' out to Lake Squatchnoggle to hang out at Peter's grampa's cabin. But first they hafta stop off at the Muskie Madness fishin' tournament to meet Bob Hope, only this M. Emmett Walsh look-alike (Denny) gets in their faces an starts makin' fun of their rods til Finner hasta beat 'im a castin' competition an humiliate 'im right in front of Bill Dance. Then they drive on over to their cabin where Alex Jones' target demographic (Evel) has his corn fed keister parked on the front lawn fillin' out his Winnebago Militia application, til this other grizzled nut (Wayne) comes outside an goes on a big spiel about how his America died when we gave Oklahoma back to the Indians or somethin' like that. Elsewhere, a family of dysfunctional middle management suburbanites (Roger, Sheila, Irving, an Ruth) pull into a bait shop owned by an old Swede (Leudke) an give 'im a raft of spit about how the area's intentional lack of signage designed to keep city folks out is workin', til he draws 'em a map an gives 'em a free tub of stink bait so they'll bugger off. Later that evenin', both groups're havin' dinner over at The Huskie Muskie, when Sheila ends up gettin' P.O.'d at Roger for not listenin' intently to 'er tirade about how marryin' 'im was the worst decision she'd ever made an that she could have just as easily married Burt Hamford who owns the Texaco station out on Route 26. Eventually she gets so mad that she ends up shovin' 'er slice of perch pie aside an goin' down to the dock to look for a man who can appreciate all she's got to offer, til some Duckworth dwellin' assassin fires a jerkbait the size of a Clydesdale schlonker into 'er torso an reels 'er in while Peter watches horrified from inside the restaurant. In rural Wisconsin, husband land you. While that's goin' on, Denny's over in his shanty riggin' up a claw clip to attach to his home grown trophy fish so it can wear its hair in a French twist an make it easily identifiable in the lake.
Only about that time Wayne starts peekin' in his window an sees what's goin' on, an after Denny leaves to hang his hind end off the dock an drop a coupla floaters, Wayne sneaks in an tips Denny's livewell/water trough over an frees Gilly. Meanwhile, the kids're back at their cabin where Peter's tryin' to tell Ann about Sheila doin' the belly buster offa the dock but Ann can't stop talkin' 'bout how Peter'll never amount to anything long enough to get the message. Though to be fair, Peter's the kinda guy that looks like Paul from The Wonder Years an spends a lotta time playin' an acoustic guitar, so she ain't exactly wrong. The next mornin', Finner an Rodney pick up Bev (the fishin' derby hostess) an show 'er what they were able to score with their rods before headin' over to her place to make 'er fry it up for 'em so they can feel like rugged outdoorsmen. Unfortunately, mosta the towns denizens're the kinda guys who think that to be able to ballroom dance you've gotta be shorter than a cardboard cutout of the Hamburglar, so she latches onto Finner real quick an invites 'im to go out for a jog with 'er so he can get a good look at what she's got to offer. So upon realizin' that he ain't exactly Suzanne Somers, Rodney figures three's a crowd an wanders over to Leudke's place an listens to a story about how Wayne used to be besties with Peter's grampa til one day they were out fishin' an Wayne accidentally put his lucky bullet into grampa's spine an pert'near caused 'em to lose their catch. Tourists eat up these kinda stories, cept Leudke aughta spend more time tellin' 'em to people who've actually got money to spend. Then Rodney goes out to play with his dinghy an spin donuts til he soaks Denny, which frankly, is pretty much a community service cause Denny ain't had a bath since the McCarthy Hearings, at which point Rodney drives off to work on his tan an reflect enough light to blind the people livin' on the planets oribitin' Alpha Centauri. Course, about that time ole cranky bait shows up an hooks Rodney through the large intestine an watches 'im do the Spinaroonie all over the floor of his boat til he can get the slack out of his line an drag 'im outta what's now become the poop deck. Then the sheriff finds Rodney's body an Peter tells 'im that it musta been Evel cause he lives in a perpetual Vietnam flashback, only when they get out there an Evel relinquishes his M-16 it turns out to be one of those real light weight ones with a walnut stock that's better suited for goin' after nuisance squirrels than Charlie an Peter hasta go home to try an scrub the humiliation off with a Brillo pad.
Kiersten's real bummed out though, cause now there's no chance of mixin' her bimbonic genes with Rodney's bromosomes an she decides to go floatin' on the lake to try gettin' over 'im. Cept all the bad lines, flaccid objects slappin' 'er in the face, an liquid splashins only remind 'er of Rodney, an after 'er floatie ends up gettin' popped she's so depressed that she can't even swim away before the Goreton's fisherman parts 'er hair with his Orlando Clipper. Meanwhile, Finner an Bev've finished their jog, but Bev's still lookin' for a real workout an asks Finner to hold 'er ankles while she does some situps, only he's so bad at it that after awhile she decides to just hold 'er own ankles. Back at the cabin, Dork Dynasty's real quick to forgive Peter about that whole M-16 thing, an he's tellin' Peter an Ann all about how Sputnik's suckin' his brainwaves into outer space, til Wayne walks in an tells Evel to go blow it out his double XL duff an save it for the Infowars message boards. Later that night, Finner heads back over to Bev's place to see if he can't pick up another order of makeout, cept when he gets there he sees 'er inside with Evel which causes a simultaneous urge to pound the tar outta Evel an rush out to grab a bottle of that crab shampoo before the little buggers can overrun Mount Kanilaya. Back at the cabin, Ann's tryin' to explain that becomin' a castratin' shrew is the next logical step in their relationship, til Peter tells 'er he ain't sure if she's what he's lookin' for in a relationship an she immediately jumps 'im on account of how long it's been since she's experienced any strange cock. Elsewhere, Roger's stuck out in Bas Boot cause his motor's crapped out on 'im like a German porn star, an he hasta start blowin' his own air horn til Ripple A shows up an gives 'im a belly button piercing. While that's goin' on, Bev hasta throw Evel out once she realizes what she's done, an the fact that if she doesn't he'll prolly eat 'er outta house an home while she's makin' a run for the turlet to return 'er Muskie-wich back to the ecosystem. Then she goes swimmin' an gets bashed in the face with an oar like a kleptomaniacal sea lion tryin' to make off with a stringer fulla mackerel an ends up lookin' like she just went 15 rounds with Dolph Lundgren. Meanwhile, Evel, Ann, an Peter find the Ultimate Warrior brand tassels offa Finner's Bass Monster 3000 fishin' rod nowhere remotely close to the vicinity of any of the crime scenes an figure Finner hasta be the one responsible cause they've pretty well boated an bludgeoned all the other red herrings at this point. But Finner's gone an gotten 'imself plastered harder'n a Bigfoot print at Bluff Creek an driven his boat over to Leudke's place, where he proceeds to crank his radio up to the "hair band fu" settin' til Leudke starts tearin' out his own hair like the administrator of NASA when they found out Ted Cruz'd been named chair of the Senate subcommittee on Space.
So Leudke hasta fight through the Alice in Chains induced aneurism an whip his pike pulverizer spoon lure directly at Finner so he can tear his ear off like Mike Tyson, at which point he reels in Finner's boat with his 6000lb test line an mutilates 'im with his limited edition Wonder Boner deluxe with optional viscera vacuum attachment. Unfortunately for Leudke, Peter finally figures out what's goin' on while he's listenin' to Evel talk about how back in 'Nam they'd shove metal replacement parts into the wounded soldiers so they'd be prepped for the day when the government activates their cyborg programmin' chips an mobilizes 'em to launch an all out assault on Venezuela. But somewhere in that maze of burnt out electrons an gunpowder residue, Evel comes up with the theory that the combination of the cicada screechin', an the various rock an roll vibrations spewin' outta nearby radios, are makin' the killer go apeshit cause of a metal plate that musta been stuck in his head durin' one of those well intentioned world police missions we launched over the years. So Evel an Peter head over to Leudke's place an find a buncha chum buckets comprised of alla Peter's chums sittin' next to the night crawlers, only Peter doesn't think the sheriff'll believe 'em cause he keeps talkin' about needin' a body an there's no way Peter'll be able to reconstruct 'em when they're in this many pieces. Then Swedey Todd shows up at Peter's place an kidnaps Ann so he can stuff 'er in his livewell, cause by this point he needs somebody to help 'im divvy up all the manburger meat into individual packages. People think runnin' a bait shop's all fun an games but that just ain't the case, an if they'd ever had to deal with an irate customer who wants Pautzke's salmon eggs when all you've got's PowerBait, they'd understand exactly how serious it can get. Course, when Evel an Peter see Leroy "the P.O.'d dudeski" Leudke pullin' up in the Crappie Jalopy they don't realize he's got Ann with 'em an they head for home like Rickey Henderson on a suicide squeeze. Naturally, Wayne still don't believe 'em on account of Peter bein' a foreign devil, at least until Peter produces the "lucky bullet" Wayne accidentally buried in Peter's grampa's spinal column a coupla decades ago an Wayne gets this look on his face like he just pulled up to his favorite fishin' hole an found a coupla gay guys playin' hide the worm on toppa the rag he uses to scrub the scales off his hands. You can kill a tourist, an you can sell their bodies for bait, but when you kill off a man's fishin' buddy you've gone way beyond the boundaries of good taste. Cuttin' bait here, cause frankly the ending on this one hasta be seen to be believed.
So having read all that, you're probably thinking Blood Hook is completely unwatchable. You would think that though, cause I haven't yet explained why that's nonsense. But it's not an unrealistic assumption, because somewhere around the mid-90s Troma lost their ability to rein in the goofiness in these flicks, and they're pretty much all bad by design at this point. But in the 80s, Troma was capable of some subtlety and even tongue in cheek humor that's played straight, and while Blood Hook was technically not produced by Troma (only distributed), it is one of those films that manages to not go full pants-on-head retarded. Having sat through it, I feel that Blood Hook gets dumped on pretty hard because some people may not get just how self-aware it is, and I'm inclined to look upon it as a poor man's Motel Hell. It's not played quite that seriously, but it's the same basic principle. Admittedly, due to a very inexperienced cast, a low budget, and some mediocre special effects, Blood Hook still isn't a particularly good movie, but it's really not as bad as people say it is if you can appreciate humor that isn't delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer blow. Really though, the way in which most people discover the movie is due to the Mystery Science Theater connection, having been directed by Jim Mallon. Kevin Murphy also worked on the crew as the key grip, though that's of little consequence in terms of the way the movie actually turned out. It's a little unclear as to how regional a production the flick really was, but I suspect it was probably pretty localized considering Mallon is from the state next door to Wisconsin. This becomes noticeable in terms of how accurate a lot of the little details are for a movie centered around muskie fishing. If a big budget movie were to have even a short sequence that involved this type of subject matter, you might see them completely flub some bit of information that any local could have corrected for them, and it's because something like this probably wasn't worth researching. But here, the little details that ultimately don't make much of a difference seem pretty accurate and I suspect that's due to having at least a few people on set who actually knew this stuff. It was originally titled "Muskie Madness" to match the name of the fishing derby in the movie, but when Troma bought the distribution rights they changed it because they felt it was unlikely the average person would know what a muskie was. The original title also suggests native flavoring. I suppose one has to come to the conclusion that between the premise, the method in which the murders take place, and the reveal towards the end that explains why the old Swedish guy's gone looney tunes, it's noticeably less serious than even Motel Hell, but I do feel they held things together well enough that the flick has some redeeming value.
Okay then, let's stick this thing on the stringer and see how long it thrashes around before expirin'. The plot has certain goofy aspects that make it impossible to take seriously, which does cause a bit of a conflict for a movie that's attempting to at least somewhat play it straight. The vibrations causing the Korean War vet's metal plate to jiggle around and give 'im migraines the likes of which you could only otherwise experience if you were married to Fran Drescher, is pretty out there. Course, if you just watched a man jam a pipe through another man's gills and slide 'im down a length of rope to form a human stringer, maybe questioning that kind of logic isn't all that logical to begin with. Still, I find that problematic since it's attempting not to go completely insane. The acting is a little below average, which isn't particularly surprising when you consider the vast majority of the cast had never worked before, nor since. I've seen worse, but it really is pretty lackluster. Even many of the important characters are pretty dull. And the ones that aren't dull are entertaining due to the surprisingly well-written dialog. Bill Lowrie is hilarious as the paranoid Vietnam vet who runs around spoutin' things that even Alex Jones would consider crazy, and I particularly liked how the implausibly screwed up motive for the murders is pretty much unraveled by this particular character. Clearly, this is another case of the movie's self-awareness. Paul Drake is also pretty decent as the cantankerous, grizzled old father of Bill Lowrie who remembers the good ole days and basically hates the entire world. The main cast though, including the killer, are all pretty forgettable and boring, I'm sorry to say. Here's who matters and why, try not to blink: Mark Jacobs (Soul of the Demon), Joel Thingvall (The Devil's Hour, Remake, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The First Avenger, Man of Steel, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ghost from the Machine, Killer Movie, It Came from Somewhere Else, The Giant Spider Invasion, You'll Like My Mother).
The special effects are hit and miss, and can be pretty well summed up thusly: the more complex, the more ridiculous they look. Despite the blood being a bit on the Chef Boyardee side at times, most of the basic hook wounds range from decent to good, with the severed ear being one of the better effects. The steel tip of the makeshift stringer going through Christopher Whiting's neck isn't too bad either. But the effect that stands out the most does so because it's a bad one, and that's the full reveal of all the corpses on that stringer. We're talking some really, really lousy waterlogged corpses. So conversely, the scoring for the special effects isn't going to end too favorably. I also noticed the shadow of the guy working the fog sprayer in one scene too, but that kinda thing happens so it's not too big a deal. The shooting locations are fairly attractive, and authentic for the most part. The movie was shot in Hayward, Wisconsin, which had a population of about 1800 at the time of filming and certainly shows it. The gigantic fiberglass muskie in the movie was also a real structure, and is still standing today. But as far as the details go, we've got some pretty good shots of the lake both during the day and at night, with the night shots incorporating fog to add a little creepiness. They're still decent shots though, even if some of the them are pretty clearly of somebody in a boat about 5 feet from the dock. I guess if it's so important that your camera not wobble from the waves in the lake, you can stand on the dock and make it abundantly clear you're doing so with a pristinely still shot. There're a few short driving scenes of borderline back roads as well, but nothing really deep in the woods, so in general the shooting locations are decent, but not particularly spellbinding. The soundtrack, I would consider to be the highpoint. It strikes the perfect balance between being a cheesy horror flick from the 80s, while still maintaining a certain amount of foreboding atmosphere. It kinda falls somewhere between the score from Halloween III, and the opening title credits in Return of the Living Dead, which both have great scores. Having compared it to those two movies, I'm sure it's abundantly clear to any horror fan that the soundtrack utilizes a lot of synthesizers. Many horror flicks from the 80s chose to go down that road, but many of them came out sounding corny because it's really easy to screw them up. This one, though, is not only effective at creating the right mood for the movie, but it's also pretty catchy to boot. I was rather surprised to see that it was the only soundtrack the composer ever did, because I've certainly seen better movies that had less congruent, enjoyable music. Overall, Blood Hook is pretty cheesy, but deliberately so in just the right volume to keep it out of Sharknado territory where the whole thing is bad for the sake of being bad. I've said it before and I'll say it again; a "so bad it's good" movie cannot be made deliberately, and anyone that tries obviously doesn't get it.