Looking for a nice campy horror flick with buxom babes, blood 'n guts, and a crazed terror on the loose? Well, look elsewhere friends, because Blood Beach doesn't have it. Oh sure, the makers of this 1981 scare-fest wannabe included elements of each, but the actual examples are sorely lacking.
Blood Beach begins -- where else? On the beach. The late David Huffman plays Harry Caulder, a Harbor Patrol officer who swims to work every day. On this particular day, though, he hears his friend screaming from the beach. It's reverse Baywatch: the lifeguard has to get out of the water in order to get to the dying victim.
Alas, he is too late. The woman, who just happens to be the mother of Caulder's old flame, disappears before Harry can see what happens. Only her dog remains, barking like crazy at an empty beach.
Enter the local police force: Sgt. Royko (Burt Young) and Lt. Piantadosi (Otis Young), and their crusty yet benign captain, Pearson, played by bad movie fixture and Bruce Lee pal John Saxon. In best Jaws fashion, they are stuck trying to solve the case of the mounting fatalities against the objections of the local city council, who want the police to solve the case, but within budget. Piantadosi is the only cop who seems anxious to solve the case in order to stop the killings: Captain Pearson wants the politicians off his back, and Royko is merely entertained by the whole process. All he can seem to do is make crude jokes and repeat the phrase, "This never woulda happened in Chicago."
Topping off our police investigators is the local coroner and physician, Dr Demetrios. Demetrios (Stefan Gierasch) gets the pleasure of delivering the creepiest lines in the film, which is appropriate -- he looks pretty creepy himself. We half-suspected that Demetrios was behind whatever it was eating people on the beach, but no such luck. At the end, he takes the cliched role of inquisitive scientist pleading on behalf of the man-eating beach, which is obviously a miracle of nature. Demetrios also manages to use the word "smithereen" in the singular. Really!
Harry and Cat listen in
dismay to Dr. Demtrios' theories.
True to form, Caulder's old flame, Cat, comes back to town to find her mother. Much of the story centers on her, for reasons we don't fully understand. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a cast of characters (not interesting characters, not realistic characters, not quirky characters, just characters) who will more than likely become beach monster guano: The french stewardess, the beachcomber, the bag lady. Actually, the bag lady just kind of watches while all of the other characters disappear.
Turning to our cast for the moment, we have another winner in the b-movie actor Star Trek game. Mariana Hill, who plays Catherine, was Dr Helen Noel in the 1966 Star Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind." Other notable actors in this film include Burt Young, star of many a lousy mafia film and also the man who played Pauly in the Rocky films. John Saxon has been in over 100 films since 1954's A Star is Born, including the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Our hero, David Huffman, was well on his way to becoming a has-been actor (7 made-for-tv movies in 4 years) when he was unfortunately stabbed to death in early 1985.
Obvious from the beginning is the fact that Blood Beach is extremely low budget. That unto itself is not always a black mark against a movie. Other movies have managed to transcend small budgets through clever writing, good acting, genuine scares and creepy atmosphere. The key words in the sentence above are 'other movies.' Blood Beach wallows in its low budget, whether it's the poorly recorded synch sound, the amateurish acting, or the fact that the dialogue is written not so it flows, but so it piles up. Watching Blood Beach becomes a zen experience, as the only rational response to it is to clear your mind of all expectations and hopes of being entertained. Blood Beach is not a film you watch so much as witness.
While the idea of a carnivorous beach is pretty interesting, the culprit turns out to be (gasp) a worm-like monster underneath the beach. It's actually a lot like the Graboids in Tremors, although not nearly as interesting. Even so, it's the most stimulating thing in the movie. When the dialog started to drag, we found ourselves chanting: "Eat more people! Eat these people! Eat the FILM CREW!"
To further entertain you, we've put together a list of possible titles for the next movie in the Blood Beach series, should such an abomination be made.
Blood Beach 2: Slaughter in the Sand
Blood Beach 2: You Will Believe a Beach Can Devour