Not to be confused with “Blood Lake,” the 1987 teen slasher flick, or “Blood Lake,” the 2006 porno, Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys is the (duh) Asylum film made exclusively for, wait for it, ANIMAL PLANET.
Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys is exactly what you think it will be – shitty CGI, over-the-top death scenes, and Christopher Lloyd.
OH YES MY FRIENDS.
CHRISTOPHER FREAKING LLOYD.
Christopher Freaking Lloyd plays the Mayor of Killer Lamprey Town who tells the scientists who have arrived to combat and publicize the murder fish situation to go fuck themselves because KILLER LAMPREY TOWN IS FOR SURE SUPER SAFE AND I HEAR THEIR MAYOR IS THE BEST.
Spoiler alert: Christopher Lloyd dies on the toilet when a killer lamprey jumps up his asshole and shoots out his mouth! HURRAY!
Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys also stars Shannen Doherty of Beverly Hills 90210 and Jason Brooks of Days Of Our Lives to round out the famous-thirty-years-ago cast. It’s better than some Asylum movies, worse than other Asylum movies, so I’m going to wrap this review up and say….
Now that I know that Animal Planet has an interest in creature feature horror…..how has no one made a My Cat From Hell movie???
HOW HAS NO ONE MADE A MY CAT FROM HELL MOVIE.
Cats across the country begin to turn on their owners in a slew of unexplained and adorable murders. Local law enforcement officers cower in fear as kittens feast on the corpses of the American people. The FBI get involved and are immediately overpowered. Brute force is clearly not the answer. The chain of command goes straight to the president. We need an expert. Someone must be called in to subdue the nation’s felines. The president picks up the red phone and dials.
THIS WILL RIVAL SHARKNADO. THIS WILL BE ANIMAL PLANET’S PATH TO GREATNESS. I will make the kickstarter, Jackson. I will hand out flyers. I will call studio execs. I will hand-pick all the cats. I will make this happen. All you have to do is give me the thumbs up and I will make My Cat From Hell: Purrminator HAPPEN. Please call me. Please, Jackson.
According to Wikipedia, this is a German language movie about a team of researchers in the Alps studying climate change. A red liquid is discovered on one melting glacier that appears to be genetically altering the local wildlife, creating giant hybrid monsters that terrorize the scientists. A second team is brought in further study this phenomenon, because adding more people to the equation is what you do when there is clearly an infectious organism creating monsters that attack everything they see. Even worse, one of the scientists in the second group IS THE EX GIRLFRIEND OF THE LEADER OF THE FIRST GROUP OH NO because I guess this is just what happens when you are a scientist.
This is all well and good and fine and based on this description I would give this film a decent rating.
But this is not why I remember this movie.
And I remember the tits off this movie.
I remember this movie because, tagging along the second team of researchers, is a head of state named Minister Bodicek.
And Minister Bodicek is very obviously supposed to be Angela Merkel.
AND SHE FUCKING WRECKS. THESE. MONSTERS.
First of all, WHY IS FAKE ANGELA MERKEL ON THIS TEAM??? Everyone is clearly going to either die from monster fangs in the face or turn into a monster full of fangs and a taste for faces, and they send along the most important human being in their country??? Damn, Germany. You cold. (GET IT IT’S THE ALPS IT’S ALL VERY LITERALLY COLD BUT ALSO UNFEELING AND REALLY PRETTY ILL-ADVISED.)
But Not Angela Merkel is a FUCKING BEAST. She’s not even a protagonist but holy shit that woman crushes it. Just seeing fucking Not Angela Merkel But Totally Angela Merkel in a sci-fi horror movie in the first place is goddamn insanity, and seeing her stab the shit out of a giant genetic abomination IS THE FUCKING BEST. It would be like making a movie in the United States with a lanky black president in it named Brock Yomama and seeing him destroy an onslaught of Bigfeets to death with his bare hands. (Which, Syfy Channel, I believe you can make this happen please.)
I have nothing else to say about this movie. Apart from having ANGELA FUCKING MERKEL as a character in it for virtually no reason, it’s pretty much German The Thing, which is pretty decent in its own right. But WITH Seriously Angela Fucking Merkel For No Reason?
Welcome to the “blood” section of the alphabet! Brought to you by: 1960s monster movies. What’s the monster this time, you ask?
IT IS A WEREMOTH.
A mad scientist from the Victorian era starts fucking around with genetics and, naturally, he starts by combining a death’s head moth and a beautiful woman, because fuck curing cancer or whatever. The resulting WEREMOTH is a pretty lady during its pretty lady phase, and a Blood Beast Terror during the moth phase, in which it roams the streets of London, killing attractive young men and draining them of all their blood, which is not something I understood to be a feature of moths, but I am not A Scientist.
I mean. That’s really all I have to say about this. It’s cheap and dumb and from the 60s and all of those things put it somewhere between awful and great. It also tries to be a detective movie at the same time, starring Peter Cushing as a policeman who thinks that maybe it’s a bloodthirsty eagle going around killing everyone, a theory that makes marginally more sense than WEREMOTH.
Finally, I get to talk about why I like found footage movies. Blair Witch is the first big hit of the genre and it really is a textbook example of found footage done right, with the exception of one glaring issue that I’ll get to later. NOBODY expected the Blair Witch inquisition. Horror movies at the time were kind of loud and dumb and obvious, even the good ones (which were more smart and loud and obvious). You always saw the monster, you always had a sweeping soundtrack to indicate when something was scary, and you always knew it wasn’t real. Blair Witch fucked all of that.
If by some miracle you have no idea what this movie is, let me take you back on a journey to 1999, a time when you could party like it was. Three grungy teen filmmakers head to Burkittsville, Maryland, to film a documentary about the ghost of a woman known as the Blair Witch who had been executed for witchcraft in 1785. The movie begins by stating that the three filmmakers are all missing and that the documentary footage you are about to watch is all they had to indicate what may have become of them, and they found it in the woods. The footage. That’s where they found it. That’s where they found the footage. The found footage.
First we see a bit of what their documentary was meant to be, interviews with the locals about the legend and their experiences of any paranormal activity in the woods. We learn that there was one dude who claimed to have been possessed by the witch – he lived in the woods as a hermit in the 40s and kidnapped and killed children in pairs in his basement, making one stand in the corner facing the wall while he killed the other. Later he would tell the police that a witch made him do it because IT’S ALWAYS THE WOMAN’S FAULT, ISN’T IT.
Then Teen 1, Teen 2, and Teen 3 all wander out into the woods to try to get some footage of the ghost witch. They hike around filming establishing shots and Teen 1 does some dramatic introductions of various important locations, like a rock where a shitload of men were ritualistically murdered in the 19th century. Then they walk not nearly far enough away from fucking Murder Rock and they camp. The next day they walk deeper in the woods despite not being super clear on where the fuck they’re going, BUT I BET YOU KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING. They find more creepy shit and camp again. Then they try to hike back to the car.
BUT OH NO THEY ARE LOOOOOOOOOOOOST.
And here we have an hour of The Teens bickering about who should have the map and where they should go, interspersed with creepy shit. And don’t get me wrong, the creepy shit is creepy. What starts as weird noises in the dark becomes cairns popping up outside their tent in the middle of the night and headless stick figures hanging from trees (as in figures literally made of sticks, not just drawings done by people who love to tell you how dumb and easy drawing is because they never went to art school and got raked over the fucking coals because their color theory isn’t perfect BECAUSE DRAWING IS ACTUALLY HARD. Moving on). Teen 1 is being a real bitch about taking control of the map and she’s freaking out the most. Teen 2 is grumpy, but Teen 3 gets so pissed at Teen 1 that he kicks the map into the river. Teens 1 and 2 lose their shit with Teen 3. All three Teens, furious at each other, hike in circles for several days in the creepy creepy woods, finding nothing but stick people and the disembodied laughter of children. Until one night…..when Teen 2 goes fucking missing.
This is where I’ll stop in case people haven’t actually seen this movie, because it is definitely worth seeing. But, just to get it out of the way, here are the two reasons it’s not worth seeing. One is….arguing teenagers. Like holy shit arguing teenagers forever. The creepy shit parts are pretty delicately sprinkled into the film, which is cool and means that you’re not being hit over the head by murder ghosts, but it also means that a lot of screen time is opened up to teenagers being lost and having teen feelings. There’s a lot of that. A LOT OF THAT. TOO MUCH OF THAT. Part of what makes a good found footage film work is the inclusion of footage that might not really directly connect to the plot, because the idea is that this is just when Joe Shmo turned the camera on and Joe Shmo doesn’t know where all this is going, so interspersed with foreshadowing and plot points is just some random shit, which adds to the realism. But holy fuck, when half of your movie is pissy teens being lost, it makes it hard for me to want to keep going.
My other problem with this film is also what makes it so special: the camera work. Documentary-style horror wasn’t a thing until Blair Witch, so the fact that we are watching handheld camera work was really pretty brand-new and cool at the time. But goddamn. The shaky cam. THE SHAKY CAM. The footage was literally shot by the actors on handheld cameras, so when the actors are trampling around the woods or running in the dark, you get tons and tons of shaky shaky dark trees. So many trees. So very many shitty footage of shaky, dark trees. Again, some of this is good. Found footage depends on believing that the film was not shot by a cameraman with a dolly and a sound studio. To a certain extent it does have to look like it’s handheld, which means some shakiness and some focusing on random things in the environment is good because that’s what happens when you have a camera in your hand and you don’t super give a shit. But jesus fuck is this physically hard to watch at times. When Blair Witch was released, a lot of people experienced motion sickness from the camera work, and a few even vomited in the theaters. Which, on the one hand, isn’t that what every horror movie hopes for? But on the other hand, not like that.
What makes this film so cool is the whole rest of it. It was the first horror movie to fully take advantage of the internet and it’s still what a lot of people go to when they think of viral marketing. They put up fake police reports and interviews about the missing Teens and even the IMDB page listed the actors as “missing, presumed dead.” The production team did everything they could to convince people that Blair Witch was a real documentary before they went into the theaters, and it worked. And everything in the film itself worked towards that goal as well. Blair Witch kept everything small and realistic – no theatrical score, no footage of the monster, no cameraman, no lighting, barely any script. If three real teens got lost in the woods with nothing but a camera, this is about what it would look like. And that level of realism is what makes even the tiniest indication of something creepy going on truly terrifying.
I could go on, but I’m sick of having to write an actual review of a good movie because that’s not what I’m goddamn here for so on that note……..FOUR POINT SEVEN FIVE HORRORS.
I can’t give it five, because fucking trees and teens, but Blair Witch really is a big deal and it, shall we say….SHOOK THINGS UP in the horror genre??? GET IT? BECAUSE THE FUCKING SHAKY TREES. It established a genre that would later be refined in films like Paranormal Activity (which I believe to be far superior to Blair Witch and fuck you, horror purists, you can take your fucking Real Opinions based on Film School and Pretentious Bullshit and you can get right on outta here with that nonsense and go make an actually good blog informed by facts and knowledge. NOT HERE. THIS IS MY HOUSE) and it did a really good job of it. I’ve actually kind of convinced myself to rewatch it just by writing this review…
I know I was happy to get a Mario Bava movie last time because it meant I could talk about how batshit Italian horror films were in the early 1960s. In fact, I was so excited I gave it five horrors without giving any fucks about it because it was so awesome to write about something weird and cheesy and different. Even though it was the second Bava film in maybe a week, it was just so much more fun than writing about how sort of acceptable the latest Syfy original was.
What I did not realize was that I just blew my wad on dumb 60s Italian horror the day before I have to write about A THIRD FUCKING BAVA FILM.
Did someone cut you a deal, Netflix? Was the sketchy dude in a trench coat standing outside Netflix HQ just so inundated with Bavas that he gave you a free one with every six Asylum films? Are the floors of your offices tiled in old Bava dvds? Do you toss your interns into a pit of Bavas when they get you a whole milk half caff caramel mocha latte when you CLEARLY requested two percent? Or are you so deep in the pockets of Big Bava that you can’t operate your website without pushing Bavas on us until we literally forget how many we’ve seen until we go to write a dumb blog about them? HOW MANY MORE ARE THERE, NETFLIX? HOW MANY MORE???
On the bright side, Black Sunday is the film that began Mario Bava’s career and catapulted him to greatness, and it’s totally ridiculous. The film opens in the early 17th century, with a good old fashioned witch burning. Having been turned in by her shitty brother, the (very attractive heavily eye-linered false eyelash-wearing Italian lady) witch puts a curse on him and his descendants before the priest covers her face with a horribly spiked metal mask and HAMMERS THE SPIKES INTO HER FACE UNTIL HER FACE IS ONE WITH THE MASK. LIKE AN IRON MAIDEN FOR YOUR FACE. FUCK.
Two hundred years later, a doctor and his assistant lose a carriage tire on the way to a medical conference and go wandering into local crypts because wait stop what.
…okay sure, so they find a crypt and the doctor sees the corpse of the same witch and he immediately removes the fucking mask from her face because WAIT STOP WHAT.
What the fuck, Bava??? How great were the drugs in 1960 that you thought this made sense??? WHAT THE SHIT IS WRONG WITH THIS DOCTOR??? He also then cuts himself on the glass surrounding her tomb, which means this dude not only wandered away from his carriage and left behind, I assume, enough personal belongings to last him through this conference that he doesn’t seem THE LEAST BIT worried about getting to, not only does he see what is obviously a crypt and then go fucking underground to check it out, NOT ONLY DOES HE SEE A DEAD LADY WITH A TORTURE DEVICE IMPALED IN HER FACE, but he REACHES HIS GOD. DAMNED. HAND. THROUGH BROKEN GLASS TO RETRIEVE THIS CENTURIES OLD STAB MASK FROM A FUCKING CORPSE.
And he bleeds on her and brings her back to life etc etc BUT I CAN’T EVEN GET INTO THAT BECAUSE THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF THIS MOVIE ARE SO WHAT THE SHIT I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN MANAGE TO EVEN.
I don’t even goddamn know what to do now. It just keeps going like this. Jesus christ, Bava. I JUST DID THIS. I JUST DID THIS WITH YOU. I HAVE DONE THIS WITH YOU TWICE NOW.
And not just any horror, a Mario Bava horror! Remember him? He’s fun.
Black Sabbath predates Bay of Blood by eight years, but Mario Bava had clearly figured out his campy Italian shit by this point, and even managed to get BORIS FREAKING KARLOFF to introduce and conclude each of the three shorts in this anthology. Let us begin with:
THE TELEPHONE: A french prostitute gets a phone call late at night from her former pimp who has just escaped from prison, which is particularly shitty because she was the one who sent him to prison, and he immediately informs her that he is going to revenge the shit out of her and kill her in the face (I WONDER WHY ABUSED WOMEN NEVER REPORT THEIR ABUSERS. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.) French Prostitute immediately calls over her former lesbian lover so she won’t be alone. Lesbian Lover gives her a knife to sleep with just in case and then, once French Prostitute is asleep, Lesbian Lover writes her a note confessing that she was impersonating Murder Pimp all along so that French Prostitute would invite her over….actually I’m going to rename her Batshit Lesbian Lover because what the actual fuck, lady. But, as Batshit Lesbian Lover is lovingly penning her “I am a lunatic stalker” note, who shows up but MURDER PIMP AND HE’S ALL READY FOR MURDER AFTER ALL! AW JINKIES!
The Telephone suffered from some pretty serious rewrites when being pitched to an American audience, because nothing scares Americans more than sex, but only if it’s womenfolk what be havin it. So what we get in The Land Of The Free is a shitty short about a lady who isn’t a prostitute calling her friend who isn’t a lesbian about a pimp who isn’t a pimp but is instead a ghost who writes mysterious ghost notes and does mysterious ghost things. Also there’s a neighbor named The Colonel BECAUSE AMERICA. Note: this version did not go over well because why the fuck would it.
Next up is THE WURDALAK: In which I learn that a “wurdalak”is a Russian vampire who must consume the blood of its family to convert them all so they can live happily ever after. Also that may be a spoiler.
So we’re in 19th century Russia and a young nobleman comes across a beheaded corpse with a super sweet knife stabbed through his heart. Like any thrifty 19th century Russian, this dude takes the super sweet knife and wanders on home to his family, who is currently wondering where the fuck Dad went after he took his super sweet knife to go fight the wurdalak. HMMMM. Dad, who is BORIS FREAKING KARLOFF, returns from the wilderness, but he’s looking a little pale and corpse-ish and no one wants to say it but he’s acting a little wurdalaky. Everyone shrugs and goes to bed, because 19th century Russia. AND THEN THE VAMPIRENING BEGINS.
This one is kind of fun and Karloffy and there is nothing I love more than seeing what Italians in 1963 thought 19th century Russians might wear. (Hint – hella eyeliner and fake lashes.)
And finally we have THE DROP OF WATER. A British nurse makes a house call to prepare a dead old lady for her burial, which I guess involves putting her old lady clothes back on and….that’s it. Good thing this woman went to med school, I guess. Nursie sees a sapphire ring on Corpsey’s hand and she immediately takes that shit because I guess when your whole job is getting dead people dressed you find joy in the little things. On her way out, she trips over a glass of water and encounters a vaguely annoying fly.
Cut to Nursie at home, WHERE SHE ALSO SEES A FLY!!! AND DRIPPING WATER. And like more importantly a fucking ghost of the dead lady. That’s basically the whole thing, just a brief haunting that, spoiler, kills the nurse, leaving only a small bruise on her hand WHERE THE RING ONCE WAAAAAAAS OOOOOOOOO OOOKY SPOOOKY.
FUCK am I happy to be writing about something dumb and silly and weird from the 60s. This trilogy was actually sort of panned at the time for its use of zooms and jarring cuts and twangs of scary music for dramatic emphasis, but you know what, FUCK YOU THAT IS WHAT I WANT. More modern reviews seem to be more enthusiastic and Boris Karloff loved working with Bava so much that he basically forced Christopher Lee and Vincent Price to do the same, which they did to great success.
I don’t even give a shit about how not good this is, I’m just thrilled to be writing about something fun right now…..FIVE HORRORS FUCK IT MY BLOG MY RULES
I’m a little disappointed in this Syfy Original, not because it is terrible, but because it is better than the average Syfy Original and that makes my job hard. And my job is already hard because I am running out of steam on this project and keep getting distracted by the fact that the entire internet is wrong about everything and I HAVE TO TELL THEM THAT OR ELSE HOW WILL THEY KNOW.
The only thing the internet seems to have right is its consensus on this film, which appears to be “Black Forest: Could have been worse.”
And that’s about right.
Black Forest is set in the Black Forest in Germany which I believe is where they grow all those chocolate cakes. A creepy dude leads a tour through the woods, which is supposedly where the Grimm’s fairy tales were written, which tells you exactly where this is going. Somehow everyone gets involved in an ancient ritual and then a weird fairy lady shows up and then whoops someone’s baby disappears along with the creepy tour guide. (Also why are fairy tale villains always stealing babies? Like it is not hard to make those, come on.)
Anyway, in trying to hunt down this baby who everyone still seems to think has just WANDERED OFF because no one appears to understand how babies work, we discover a mystical cabin and learn that all the fairy tales are real and also hellish and that everyone is going to die if we can’t get out of here.
BUT FIRST WE HAVE TO FIND THIS GODDAMN BABY.
This movie is hard to review because…..it’s fine. It’s not great. It’s not awful. It doesn’t excite me either way. It’s a lot better than most of the other things you’ll see on the Syfy channel, and it does exactly what it needs to do. If I were flipping through shows and found this, I would probably watch it while eating dinner and checking my phone and I’d be invested enough to not turn it off. I like a good cheesy fantasy horror as much as the next guy. It’s kind of playful and kind of dark and I probably would have really loved it if I were twelve. But it’s not playful or dark enough to really sell it and the production value is still at Syfy level, which is to say lower than most cable networks would find acceptable. Eh. Meh.