Bloodtide

December 18, 2010 at 4:21 am (5 Heads, Bloodtide) (, , , , )

Bloodtide – 1982 – England

Mixing sea monster clichés with The Wicker Man, Bloodtide is occasionally interesting but mostly derivative. James Earl Jones and two sizzling blondes deliver strange and amusing (both intentional and unintentional) dialogue to spice up this yawner, but it’s a lost cause. Particularly with the monster (cheaper than the Creature from the Haunted Sea) getting mere seconds of face time.

In the promising first bit, we witness an eerie virgin sacrifice in a candlelit cave. Cut to daytime on a picturesque Greek island and we meet the players: a Shakespeare-quoting treasure-hunting lush (James Earl Jones) and his bimbo girlfriend, two frisky honeymooners, and a spacey artist—all on the island for different poorly conceived reasons. Meanwhile, the nervous and secretive villagers conduct mysterious rituals and a fish beast stalks and murders (off screen). Unsurprisingly, the villagers perform sacrificial rituals to keep the monster at bay. Notably, revealed through a disturbingly graphic pre-Christian painting, the monster balls the sacrifices before eating them. A monastery of nuns is slaughtered before the artist realizes she must sacrifice herself, but her plan is aborted by James Earl Jones detonating the monster and himself with good old C4—but you’ll probably be asleep already.

Bloodtide has merits: classic plot, eldritch monster, unusual dialogue (when handed a watermelon and a knife to cut it, James Earl Jones snarls, “Who told you to bring a knife? You don’t cut watermelon with a knife.” and punches the melon to pieces). But foremost are the mysterious scenic locations—rocky islands, ancient caverns, and forgotten ruins, only occasionally marred by dark photography (worsened by a terrible transfer). Billowing smoke machines and underwater photography add further style and atmosphere.

But even with those things to commend it, Bloodtide can’t get off the ground. It’s slow and talky, filled with characters of unclear motivation and an overly simple plot that still manages to meander. The actors are decent but never get to do or say anything interesting. I feel like a heel writing off the entire flick with such a mundane criticism, but Bloodtide is just boring.

If you’re well rested and patient, Bloodtide can reward, but you must want to enjoy it and actively search for the tension. Moments of sublime horror exist (playing children mimic the sacrifice, tossing a girl off a cliff), but they are easily lost in the plodding predictability. But that’s what makes me a genre fan—I’ll sit through dullness to find those inspired nuggets of suspense.

Rating: 4/10 Shrunken Heads. Expect nothing and you might come away happy.

9/12/16 Update:

My original criticism of Bloodtide is still true. It is pretty boring. However, the film does have an engagingly mysterious atmosphere. Its premise is derivative of the Wicker Man (1973), but in a good way. A man visits an isolated island to find his missing sister, and runs afoul of the locals’ pagan rituals. James Earl Jones is awesome as he mutters crazily to himself.

Brian Trenchard Smith is credited as Bloodtide’s co-producer and creative consultant. He is the Australian director of BMX Bandits (1983), Dead End Drive-In (1986), Leprechaun 3 (1995), and Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996).

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. After the hero rescues his sister from the monster, they kiss in a way that is probably inappropriate for siblings.

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