Their beat and music knocked them dead!
Year of Release: 1985
Also Known As: Heavy Metal, Shocking Heavy Metal
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 81 minutes (1:21)
Director: Mats Helge Olsson
Jeff Harding ... John
Michael Fitzpatrick ... Bob
Naomi Kaneda ... Suzie
Freddie van Gerber
After killing her abusive husband, a simple-minded woman takes her children into hiding for fear of the consequences of her actions.
For years they make their home in a cave on the side of a secluded mountain. Gradually, the family is reduced to a primitive existence, living on whatever they can find and kill.
The existence of the family remains uninterrupted until a group of young people arrives on the mountain to shoot a music video.
Now the family is threatened and fearful of the "invaders." When a member of the group explores the cave, he meets with a gruesome death. The young group soon becomes suspended in a vortex of terror when, one by one, they are stalked by the crazed family of outcasts.
Blood Tracks, remindin' us that when you've got two quarts of Aqua Velva per square inch of hair, shootin' your music videos in a frozen wasteland away from open flames is generally good policy.
An speakin' of people who can't handle their snow, it looks like winter's upon us again. Had our first real snowstorm this week, an damned if my possum didn't get buried by a plow while he was outside usin' the facilities. I got nothin' against Rocky Pogue, he's an alright enough guy, but if he don't start watchin' where he's pushin' the snow I might hafta go over there an have Sadie Bonebreak do somethin' about it. Thank cripes she'd put Shankles in that degradin' little Mr. Rogers sweater she bought 'im last Christmas the day before or I'da had to put 'im in the freezer until science found a cure for full body frostbite. I dunno how he can stand wearin' that thing, an normally I wouldn't let 'im go out with it on cause around here that kinda thing makes people *talk*, but I was tryin' to keep an eye on my elk steak at the time an it musta slipped my mind. Usually he'll just scratch on the window an make these god awful noises that sound like Freddy Krueger washin' the dishes when he wants back in, but after my steak was done I'd started watchin' old Outer Limits reruns on Comet an kinda forgot about 'im. Took about two hours before I noticed he was missin', an I only found 'im cause he had his nose stickin' outta the snowbank squawkin' like the monkey from Aladdin gettin' a flea dip. It was pretty scary there for awhile. Ended up havin' to sit next to the stove with 'im all night the first two days, an if you've never tried to get a possum to drink Theraflu, lemme tell ya, they hate it almost as much as havin' Vicks Vaporub smeared on their chests. He's doin' a lot better now, but he's been pretty P.O.'d ever since I hadda cut his sweater off on account of his body heat meltin' just enough snow to refreeze inside the wool later on an bind itself to his fur. He wasn't real impressed by my barberin' skills either, cause I hadda give 'im one of those feminist haircuts where everything's shaved offa one side an still real long on the other, an now he looks like everybody in the mosh pit at an L7 concert. Back to eatin' alla Apollo's dog food an tryin' to bite my fingers off when I give 'im his medicine though, so he should be alright. I'll prolly go find 'im a Christmas tree to hang in before too long, an that should calm 'im down. It was a pretty close shave though, no pun intended.
I'll tell ya somethin' else too; after you've been up for 36 hours straight sometimes your brain loses its already tenuous grip on reality, an one of the first things to go seems to be the "bad idea" filter, cause around 10pm on the second day of Possum Watch '17 my brain'd convinced me that Blood Tracks was just the thing it needed keep it goin' until Shankles was on the mend. That's what happens though - instead of just tellin' ya to call somebody up to take a shift while you catch a nap, it tells ya that what you *really* need is to see the guitarist from Europe get turned into a Swedish meatball, an that's why we presently find ourselves starin' down the barrel of a heavy metal Horror flick. The flick ain't all bad though, after all, it's basically just The Hills Have Eyes in the snow that happens to star a Hair band, so before ya go condemnin' me for this little trip through B-movie Hell, at least take a look at some of its more educational aspects. First, tryin' to run in skin-tight leather pants is faster, cheaper, an just as effective as a vasectomy. Second, Sweden is progressive enough that when a woman murders her husband it actually puts 'er at a slight disadvantage at the kids' custody hearin'. An third, nekkid, covered in mascara, an screamin' in a car buried under an avalanche is no way to go through winter, Pete.
My favorite thing about this flick, though, is that it's almost got a Battle of the Bands thing goin' on. I realize that the snowbillies aren't actually a band, per se, but they're all Scandinavian, an they sure's hell *look* like a Swedish Death Metal band. Why's that important, you might ask? Well - if you haven't really been keepin' up with the metal scene the last coupla decades: all the best stuff comes outta Europe (the continent) these days, but *particularly* the Scandinavian countries. So what we've basically got here is Dokken vs. Children of Bodom, to the death, on the slopes of Borkjiord... or wherever they filmed this sucker. It's classic metal vs. modern metal; America vs. The World, an we're on the foreigners' home turf. Forget "rap battles," those things're strictly cred incentivized weaksauce; we got the real deal here: it's leather pants vs. Leatherface, for heavy metal supremacy, an Sweden ain't big enough for the both of 'em.
The movie begins with this surly drunk staggerin' down the train tracks, only when he gets home an goes dippin' into his kids' college fund to scrape up enough scratch for one more pint of Valhalla Brawla dark ale down at the Odin's Abodin pub, his ultra-conservative wife grabs a kitchen knife an jams it between his shoulder blades while he's raidin' the treasury an takes off with the kids to hide in an old abandoned factory where they stay alive for the next 40 years by eatin' crash-landed soccer teams. Unfortunately, their luck finally runs out when a buncha Hair Metal hellions show up next door to shoot a music video so they can go on Headbanger's Ball an get famous enough to support their heroin addictions, an it ain't too long before a member of their entourage starts stompin' around in the factory an makin' such a ruckus that this big hairy berzerker hasta pitch 'im off a catwalk an then carve 'im up like a family sized servin' of lutefisk. Meanwhile, the band is drivin' around in the dead of Scandinavian winter lookin' for a nice drift to start filmin' in, only things're a little different'n they're used to back in the city, an instead of an avalanche of mosh pit panties, their falsettos cause an avalanche of snow an ice that threatens to bury all of Stockholm if they don't put a lid on it an get the heck outta there. Incidentally, I'm not even gonna bother tryin' to keep the band members straight, cause even if there weren't 119 of 'em to begin with it'd *still* be impossible since all the women look like Tim Curry in Rocky Horror an all the men look like The Goblin King from Labyrinth. But anyway, while the crew's plottin' their next move, the guitarist takes this nymphomaniac out to a car an starts doin' licks on 'er g-string an the result is another avalanche that buries the car while they're rockin' the cradle of love. Suffice it to say, she gets hysterical when he's near. So while mosta the crew is diggin' 'em out, the sound guy (Dave) heads up to the factory to see about recordin' some avalanche sounds for the soundtrack, but he ends up gettin' his neck snapped by Malice Cooper. Then Dave's clingy girlfriend (Carrie) goes lookin' for 'im an finds his recordin' equipment layin' on the ground, an when she takes it to the cabin an plays it for the producer (Bob) alls they can hear is this sound like a 200lb thigh burstin' free from a pair of spandex.
Best case scenario, Dave's dead; worse case scenario, he's bein' held captive by morbidly obese groupies with death by snu-snu on the brain. So Bob, Carrie, the cameraman (Nick), an a coupla bandmates (I think the guy's name was Keith) head into the factory to investigate, only Keith an his girlfriend wander off from the search party an he ends up gettin' his head chopped off by Def Leper. The girlfriend gets carried away, presumably for harem purposes, but that's all it'll ever be, cause she saved all 'er love... saved 'er love for Keith. In the meantime though, Nick's gotten 'imself separated from Bob an Carrie, allowin' Twisted Cyster to pour a coupla gallons of diesel on 'im an do his little burn on the catwalk until Nick looks like a pile of irregular Swedish meatballs. Bob's just kinda hangin' out watchin' Nick run around auditionin' to play The Human Torch in the next Marvel movie, until he runs into this other gal (with hair that's evolutionarily evolved to frighten away predators) tied up against a wall, but when he tries untyin' 'er he accidentally kicks a tripwire that drops a coupla oil drums on top of 'er that squish 'er into a puddle of Max Factor mush. Bob eventually finds a way out, but by this point Carrie's been abducted by Brawn Jovi an she's already been Livin' on a Prayer for far longer'n the average life expectancy of anyone in the clutches of your average neanderthal cannibal, so it's really no surprise when they get tired of 'er attitude an just choke slam 'er onto a steel pipe. Then Rotley Crue attacks the cabin an kills so many rockers that the ozone layer starts to recover due to the decreased volume of aerosol spray in the atmosphere, but by the time Bob makes it back to the cabin he's so traumatized that his ski lift won't go to the top of the hill anymore. Fortunately, one of the groupies (Suzie) managed to get ahold of a cop (John) over the CB radio, an so Bob tells 'im all about Yeti White an the Abominables up in the factory until John decides it's time to go serve the Sasquatters with an eviction notice.
Ironically, Suzie's seen enough Horror flicks to know the cops almost never make it in time, so when she noticed one of 'er friends gettin' hauled up the mountain she followed 'em to make sure she wasn't missin' out on any backstage orgies, but John accidentally Ratts out 'er position when he starts talkin' to 'er over the CB an gets 'er dragged Out of the Cellar an into the dungeon. Meanwhile, back at the cabin, Bob's started pullin' 'imself back together an decides to go help John fight Grief Erikson an his kinfolk at the risk of leavin' the Vixens unguarded an Cryin'. Seriously, how much blood is it gonna take before they stop doin' this? So, naturally, about five seconds after Bob leaves, Sammy Hagar the Horrible raids the cabin again, murderin' an pillagin' every step of the way until finally there's only one babe left standin'. Unfortunately, she hops on a snowmobile an it's all Sammy can do to grab ahold of the tow rope an get dragged around like a United Airlines passenger until he's finally able to climb aboard an twist 'er head 180 degrees an make 'er look like she's been through the Spaceballs transporter. She prolly woulda gotten away too, if only the damn snowmobile could drive 55. But back inside the factory, Bob finally manages to get the drop on the eldest Sno-Magnon brother who tells 'im that they tried leavin' his world behind but were ultimately doomed to discovery when they chose the most cliched setting for a rock video in the history of mankind as their home, an that even though his brothers're flea bitten an rabid they're not so bad once you get past the fact that they look like the guy from Anthropophagus scratched off all his chicken pox. Far be it from me to go spillin' the endin', so I think I'ma stop right here, but I will say this much: it's The Final Countdown.
Alrighty, well, sometimes I wonder why people're willin' to copy the plot of a movie, but not use a similar title. I mean, if they'd called this thing The Bunnyhills Have Eyes, or maybe The Hills Have Eyeliner, it might be a cult classic... course, they might also have gotten sued. I don't mean to gripe, but Blood Tracks sounds like what happens to a pair of underwear when a period comes prematurely, although the original Swedish title was "Heavy Metal," which I imagine they chose not to use for the American release to avoid any potential entanglement with the 1981 flick of the same name. As for the thought process behind the Hair Metal Horror concept, it may surprise the casual viewer to learn that this wasn't just some one-off idea that failed and was immediately forgotten, in fact, there were about a dozen or so "Rocksploitation" titles in the mid '80s to the early '90s that centered around hair bands. And actually, if you're so inclined, it's possible to expand the total a great deal depending upon your definition, but if we're referring strictly to Horror flicks where the hair band plays an integral part as either the protagonists or the antagonists, the first title was another Swedish flick called Blodaren (aka The Bleeder), at least if we're not counting Terror on Tour, which came out in 1980 and predates Hair Metal. From there you've got Hard Rock Zombies, Monster Dog, Trick or Treat, Vicious Lips, Slumber Party Massacre II, Rock 'n Roll Nightmare, Slaughterhouse Rock, Lone Wolf, Black Roses, Scream Dream, and Shock 'Em Dead, but that's not counting a lot of other titles for which the theme is present, but maybe not the focus, like New Year's Evil. It goes without saying that every entry ends up becoming a period piece that, 30+ years after the fact, either endears the viewer due to the nostalgia factor, or renders the movie unwatchable to anybody who never had a Poison poster on their wall. I'm guessing this flick didn't do much for the careers of Easy Action, who broke up about a year later when Kee Marcello quit to join Europe, but that kinda goes without saying, since none of the band members had ever acted before, and were evidently given a whole lotta beer to get them over their stage fright. Honestly though, it wouldn't have made any difference if they'd been trained actors, because it's obvious after about the first half hour that the director either lost control, or never had it to begin with. It's impossible to keep the characters straight because there're so many (the director also co-wrote, so it's not like he'd have been toe-stepping if he were to pare them back a bit), they all look alike, and if that wasn't bad enough, the lack of lighting makes it extremely difficult to follow what's happening and with whom. It's really too bad, because I can absolutely see the potential here, but the things they did well are outnumbered by the things they muffed by a factor of at least 3:1.
Anyhow, let's check this thing over for ticks and see if we can't find a silver lining. The plot, while an obvious Hills Have Eyes/Raw Meat clone, is excellent when looked at from a distance. I specify "from a distance" because if you look even a little closer it becomes apparent that it is completely bereft of detail to the point that it makes a Friday the 13th movie seem nuanced. I realize that there're a lot of Horror titles that have only as much plot as is necessary to land its characters in a predicament that will keep them vulnerable to terrorization for the remainder of the flick, but Blood Tracks is worse than most in this regard, and is further confounded by the viewer's inability to keep the characters straight or even see what's happening much of the time. The acting isn't as bad as you might expect, given that the band members don't get a whole lot of dialog, but generally speaking it's really dull for a flick that's supposed to center around a rock band. There is one cheesily excellent scene early on where the band performs the title track out in the middle of a snow field, but as far as the protagonists go, they're pretty boring. The hairy guys in the factory are a little more interesting, but the director spends far too much of his time with the rockers and their crew. That choice alone tells me that he didn't understand what made The Hills Have Eyes as good as it was, because Hills breaks off from the victims to show what's goin' on in the nuclear family's camp from time to time and gives the viewer a better idea of what the stranded travelers are up against, where here we only ever see the berzerkers when they're launchin' an attack or bein' trespassed upon. I suppose it goes without saying, but none of the characters, good or bad, have even the tiniest hint of depth, which also doesn't do the score any favors.
Here's who matters and why: Jeff Harding (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1997, Scream for Help), Michael Fitzpatrick (Grim, Lifeforce), Peter Merrill (The Time Guardian), Tina Shaw (Split Second, The Lair of the White Worm), Frances Kelly (Lucky, Blobermouth), Derek Ford (Don't Open Till Christmas).
The special effects are the hardest aspect to judge, because most of the time you can't see a damn thing. They did an alright job of making the two semi-feral brothers look frostbitten or otherwise nasty with the use of skin lesions on their faces, but like I said, it's difficult to even see a lot of the effects. You've got a coupla dummies that are a bit stiff but not completely terrible, an axe to the head that looks to have been filmed in reverse (other than the whole scene transpiring a bit too slowly to appear natural, it's not bad), a guy in a fire suit who does a good job, and a little blood now and again. The blood has good consistency, but is just a bit too bright. I suspect that if you could see anything, the score might actually benefit from these effects, but we'll never know until somebody cleans the movie up and gives it a decent release. The shooting locations are great, and are definitely the high point of the flick. The abandoned factory is a great setting, and although I can't imagine it being a facility where products were manufactured on a line at one time (it just doesn't look to be set up for that purpose), it obviously had some industrial purpose in its past and works really well as a hideout for feral people trying to survive on the outskirts of civilization. The cabin isn't shown in much detail, but it's not bad either, and the snowy expanses of the Swedish countryside provide an excellent backdrop for a flick whose general premise is one of isolation. Probably most surprising among the flick's positive aspects is the soundtrack, which in reality, features very little actual Hair Metal. You've got the scene I mentioned before where the band performs "Blood Tracks" in the snow, and then the end credits, which feature another song titled "In the Middle of Nowhere." Blood Tracks is the better of the two, but the majority of the music is a standard instrumental score that features some very decent synth stuff and a lot of tinkly, brooding, atmospheric tracks that're fairly catchy and a bit on the sinister side. Some of it kinda reminds me of A Nightmare on Elm Street, which is a very favorable comparison for a movie with a tiny budget and little incentive to produce a quality score, since it can't possibly make up for the film's other flaws. Overall, it actually comes close to passing on a technical level due to the superb shooting locations and an above average soundtrack buoying its otherwise lackluster aspects, but it's really frustrating to watch due to the poor lighting and its less than stellar cinematography, particularly in conjunction with my previous objections regarding the characters, so it passes on neither its technical merits, nor for its entertainment value. Disappointing is the best way to describe it, because while you're watching you see that they almost had something. I'd really only recommend it to Slasher completists and fans of the Rocksploitation subgenre, as there's not much here to get excited about.