Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Havoc: BLEEDER (1983)

"Helvete, kan svenskarna inte vara betrodd med fasa!" That's what you would have heard me yelling... if I knew Swedish. Aside from, if I'm generous, a handful of notable exceptions, you can't trust the Swedes when it comes to horror movies. When they do hit the nail on the proverbial head it can be life-changing. Films such as LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008) and BLOOD TRACKS (1985) are classics of the genre that stand the test of time. Other than that it seems like their horror movies are made by people who have never seen one, but heard about them from a friend. A friend who was half-crocked on hard cider and distracted by the girl two seats down.

In a pre-credit sequence to convey the horror to come, a couple of tweens are slogging through the snow to get to a cottage. They have to get to the cottage soon because they are horny. Along the way they discover a bedsheet with a cross painted on it, topped by a skull with the word "death" written in the snow with black paint. The girl is totally freaked out by this (I guess she has never seen THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) and the guy thinks it's hilarious. Upon stumbling across a large abandoned mansion, the guy decides to run around in the house and clowning about in one of the windows, his hormonal hyper-activity blunted by the opportunity to act like an 8 year old hopped up on Mountain Dew. Right before this, he tells the girl the story of the house, how a little boy was sick with a "blood disease" which drove his mother insane. She tried to drown them both, but succeeded in only killing herself. For no apparently reason, this guy's dad saved the boy from drowning. Of course, at this point we found out the house isn't actually abandoned, and the solitary resident, a guy who pushes a pram and went to the Anthropophagus School of Beauty grabs him and pulls him away from the window. Cue screams. The end.

Oh damn, that was just the pre-title sequence! We still have another hour to get through. Great. Ok, where to start? After the titles the movie picks up three months later with an all female glam-rock band called the "Rock Cats" are throwing a concert for oh, tens of people. Yeah! Rock and roll! Concerts! Fans! Tour buses! Well, a couple of gigs, a couple of fans (I counted three who cheered) and not so much a bus as a van that promptly breaks down. Sheesh, these guys make Bad News look like fucking Slayer!

Because these girls live the rock star life, they go from gig to gig through the epic, snow-covered wastes of Sweden dressed in their stage uniforms. As luck (or the producer) would have it, no one can find the keys to the trailer where the band has their street clothes, so they'll have to walk to the nearest village looking like they are ready to rock! Along the way they find an abandoned farm house with attached barn that they totally love because it would be perfect for rehearsals. I'm sure this is what every rock band begs their manager for. "Dude! We like totally need an abandoned barn with years dry, frozen animal shit, mold, rodents and plenty of dirt and straw. And none of that hay shit! I have allergies."

These girls sure know how to attract a crowd!

While investigating the house they discover a pram (dun dun duuuuuhhh) with a baby skull in it and some blood splashed on the floor. Cue freak out and the interruption of an unplugged rendition of Creedence Clearwater's "Bad Moon Rising" (I guess someone just saw AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON). This pretty much establishes the pattern of the film. The girls walk and walk and walk, and the girls talk and talk and talk ("my father was chased up a tree by a moose once") until they get to another abandoned dwelling with something creepy in it, then freak out, run away, and go back to walking and talking. At one point cast members do start getting killed off by the pram-pushing nutter who acts like he's doing a live-action rendition of Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil; limbs flying, tongue wagging and goofy grins a plenty. Intercut with these somnia-inducing antics is a subplot about a braided-tail haircut mink hunter in a canoe who is following the girl from our pre-title sequence, while talking to the forest ranger on a two-way radio. No good comes of that either. So dull is this outing, it makes CANNIBAL CAMPOUT (1988) seem like PHANTASM II (1988). Like real snow it'll numb you into a state of catatonia that will make anything you watch after it seem like a transcendental acid trip of intense complexity and mind-blowing action. Even the title is a misnomer as nobody does, except for I'm guessing the killer, though it's hard to tell if he's bleeding or simply misused a ketchup bottle.

Look into the face of terror!

I have to give BLEEDER points for presumably being one of the first DTV SOV slasher films on the market. BOARDINGHOUSE (1982) pre-dated it and SLEDGEHAMMER (1983) came out the same year, so that must count for something, right? Yeah, it would if I didn't have to subtract several million points for epically failing to deliver even the most basic of cheap bloodletting. No dull knife with a blood tube along the back, no rit dye and karo syrup splashed across walls, not even the old gag where an item is cut in half and attached to a metal band so that it goes around the actors body and looks like it's impaling them. All the kills are off screen, except for old maniacs-have-super-human-strength neck-breaking bit. In one scene our AnthopoTaz chases after a girl with a knife and then tosses it away before attacking her! The bloodiest the filmmakers ever get is a shot of one of the girls lying on the ground with a trickle of blood painted on the corner of her mouth. Oh, and forget nudity, that ain't happening at all. So what is left? Well, there are plenty of shots of the girls walking away from the camera in very tight pants.

What's interesting is that this was something of a big deal when it came out, being the first of its kind. It is well remembered by Swedish junk cinema fans because of the nostalgia factor, and presumably the very tight pants. The interesting part is that it almost is a template for Mats Helge's priceless slasher film BLOOD TRACKS, which takes all of the same ingredients and produces a righteous feast of boobs, gore, rock, and general insanity where BLEEDER's writer-director Hans Hatwig gives us a wish sandwich. We get the basic idea, but wish there was something in it.

Moments of Clarity:

3 Reactions:

  1. LAKE OF THE DEAD is a Norwegian movie... And you're absolutely right, we Swedes are really awful when it comes to making horror!

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  2. Tom confusing Sweden and Norway officially makes him the R.J. MacReady of our blog!

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  3. Oh man, how did I bungle that one up? I blame Fred Anderson. I first read about it on his blog and he's Swedish. Either that or Will may be right and I've been overly influenced by Kurt Russell. Either way I absolve myself of any wrongdoing.
    Seriously though, thanks for pointing that out Magnus. In my next piece I will confuse England with France as some sort of recompense.

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