Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BLOOD HOOK (1986) - there's something fishy going on near a fishing hole, and the puns don't stop there

Here is a clip from the film. Pay special attention to the soundtrack, which achieves some sort of experimental sound collage effect.

Director Jim Mallon was the co-creator of MST3K (as the kids call it), and this allows me the opportunity to pontificate about Tom Servo and the boys. I appreciate the show itself, allowing lost “gems” screen time on the idiot box, while often clever references unfurl like so much debris in the crumbling facade of ironic detachment. However, sometimes I wish they would just shut the fuck up so I can watch the movie, like when, say, Eegah! engages my intellect. My problem is with the vast social ripples that followed in its wake. After all, everyone is a critic, and many a critic (of the unwashed variety) will claim a film to be “MST3K-worthy”, thereby granting license to claim superiority over a piece of material. After all, it’s pretty hip to consider oneself better than another, and much less confrontational to consider oneself better than an inanimate object. In other words, you can make fun of Robot Monster all day, and not worry about Ro-Man tracking you down and beating the shit out of you.

The film opens with one of those “child witnesses murder of parent” prologues, though this is certainly the vaguest of the lot. We see a father fall over a pier and into a lake, and we are left to imagine his demise. A gang of unruly plankton? A disgruntled dolphin, maybe? The suspense is killing me.

It is now present day, and some annoying ass family (hopefully whatever fish was responsible for the earlier death hasn’t yet satiated its bloodlust) visits a bait shop run by a shifty red herring swede (shades of a similar shifty swede from H.G. Lewis’ The Gruesome Twosome). This svenky character is the first in a long line of twitchy red herrings, like a nam vet and the town crazy, saying things like “don’t push me around…I’ll twitch!” or “stay away from the lake…you’re all doomed if you fish in that unholy aquatic hole!”. I know the town crazy is supposed to be a helpful soothsayer and not a suspect, but I never trust a town crazy no matter how helpful they are. On the other hand, village idiots tend to be harmless.

Of course, a group of teens (led by the kid from the prologue) show up and scoff at the warnings. The mother of the family (whom hail from Oak Park, IL, although their brutal south suburb accents entailed as much) professes her love for On Golden Pond, which may be construed as a bit of in-joke irony (I’ll let you piece it together). The son’s favorite past time, it would seem, is to make fun of his stupid ass mom. His fleeting joy is dashed when she decides to do some bird calling out on the pier. Mercifully, a mysterious force is wielding a fishing rod underwater, hooking the old diddy down to her watery grave. Speaking of this particular pond, the sweet irony of a presumed fish/plankton whatever wielding a fishing rod reeks of revenge, wrought in fitting terms.

The hero’s girlfriend (she of the glitter lightning bolt earrings; yes, I have an erection) points out that her boyfriend is a pussy because he doesn’t use his lame keyboard to create musical art of a personal variety. He should probably cut an album with his two pseudo new wave friends, maybe something along the lines of Naperville native Bob Odenkirk’s “2001: a New Wave Godyssey”, albeit with a secular slant.

So, various people get near the pond and get killed by fishing rod. The kid from Oak Park says “I think something’s fishy!” when his parents (not so) mysteriously disappear (I fell for the joke, hook, line and sinker). Another lame guy sits in a boat listening to some “music”, and he gets his ear hooked off before getting gutted like a fish. It’s refreshing to see this “gutted like a fish” verbal cliché actually manifest itself in actual terms.

The girlfriend gets hooked while meditating, but she escapes, setting off a final girl type confrontation. She attempts to rationalize with the killer with a bunch of psych 101 drivel, and the final battle showcases the boyfriend battling with the killer in order to keep his girlfriend from becoming fish bait. I won’t reveal the killer, nor the fate of the victims (the above video does that just fine), except to say that my hope for a plankton slasher was grossly and optimistically overreaching.

Apparently, Blood Hook is a pseudo-slasher that is actually trying to be funny. Many a pun and punchline flop about, simulating the death throes of an earthbound carp. The whole thing may have worked better had it been played straight. After all, the horrors of the sea (or, in this case, a pond frequented by tourist schmucks) can be an effective overlay no matter the budget, and new wave poseurs (albeit retrospectively) are funny by their very existence.

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