Horror Film Review: Blood Beach (dir by Jeffrey Bloom)

“Nom nom nom nom,” says that monster under the sand.

“Agck!  Agck!  Agck!  Agck!” says the people above the sand.

And that’s all you really need to know about the 1981 film, Blood Beach.

Blood Beach takes place on a beach that also happens to be a hunting ground for this mutated worm thing that lives underground.  Basically, whenever anyone takes a stroll on the beach, they get sucked down into the sand and, for the most part, they’re never seen again.  Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, as in the case of a wannabe rapist who ends up getting castrated while being pulled down into the sand.  But, far too often, the victims are innocent people who were just walking their dog, chasing after their hat, or searching for buried treasure.

The beach becomes so well-known for being a death trap that the locals start to call it Blood Beach but, for some reason, that doesn’t seem to stop people from wandering out on the sand at inopportune times.  I mean, it would just seem logical to me that if there’s a monster killing people on the beach then maybe it would be a good idea to avoid the beach for a while.  I mean, you could go see a movie or you could lay out and work on your tan in your back yard.  Believe it or not, you do have the option of not going to a monster-infested location.

Strangely, there’s one person who is always on the beach but never gets killed.  That’s Mrs. Selden (Eleanor Zee), a somewhat odd woman who always seems to be nearby whenever someone is getting dragged into the sand but who never gets attacked herself.  Interestingly, Mrs. Selden never seems to be particularly concerned by all the carnage around her.  (One victim is even killed while specifically checking to make sure Mrs. Selden is okay.)  I kept expecting some sort of major twist where it was revealed that Mrs. Selden was a witch or something but it never happened.

Now, you would think that the presence of an underground monster would be the perfect excuse to call in the national guard but instead, the local police (led by John Saxon’s Captain Pearson) handle it.  Sgt. Royko (Burt Young) heads up the monster investigation, which in this film means that he kinda of stumbles from scene-to-scene, never looking particularly impressed by or interesting in anything that’s happening around him.  If anything, Royko seems to be annoyed that he’s having to give up time that he could be using to drink beer and watch TV and that attitude makes Royke the hero of this film.  Forget the scientist who wants to understand where the monster came from.  Forget the habor cop who wants to rekindle things with an old flame.  Royko doesn’t care about science or love.  He just wants to blow stuff up, which makes him the perfect audience surrogate

Anyway, Blood Beach sounds like it should be a fun movie but it’s not.  The movie delivers a lot of beach but very little blood.  There’s a lot of “nom nom” but very little “agck!”  Blood Beach is almost as much of a misfire as spending spring break in West Texas.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #74: Perfect (dir by James Bridges)

PerfectOkay,before reviewing the 1985 film Perfect, I have three things to say.

Number one, I nearly captioned the picture above “John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Little Xenu.”  And then I laughed and laughed.  But, in the end, I resisted temptation because I’m an adult now.

Number two, Perfect came out in June in 1985, a few months before I was born.  As a result, I have no idea what the 1985 reviews looked like.  However, it still seems to me that you’re taking a big risk when you give a movie a title like Perfect, especially when the movie itself is far from perfect.  How many reviews opened with, “Perfect fails to live up to its name…”

And finally, as a result of seeing both this film and Staying Alive, I have to say, “What the Hell, John Travolta?”  Seriously, what the Hell was going on?  John Travolta gave a great performance in the 1970s, with Saturday Night Fever.  And then in the 1990s, he was good in Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Face/Off, Primary Colors, and a few others.  (For our purposes here, we shall pretend that Battlefield Earth never happened.)  Even though most of Travolta’s recent films have been forgettable, his performances have generally been adequate.

So, seriously, John — what was going on in the 80s?  Because judging from both Perfect and Staying Alive, John Travolta apparently totally forgot how to act during that decade.  When I reviewed Staying Alive, I said that Travolta’s performance managed to create a whole new definition of bad.  But he’s actually even worse in Perfect.  It helped, of course, that in Staying Alive, Travolta’s character was supposed to be stupid.  In Perfect, on the other hand, he’s actually supposed to be a brilliant reporter.

Or, at the very least, he’s supposed to be brilliant by the standards of Rolling Stone.  Travolta plays Adam Lawrence, an award-winning reporter for Rolling Stone.  The magazine, by the way, plays itself and so does its publisher, Jann Wenner (though his character is technically named Mark Roth).  What’s interesting is that the film itself doesn’t necessarily paint a flattering picture of Rolling Stone or Jann Wenner, though admittedly a lot of that is due to the fact that Wenner himself gives a performance that is even worse than Travolta’s.  It’s impossible to watch Perfect without thinking about the fact that Adam is writing for the same magazine that would eventually put Dzokhar Tsarnaev on the cover and publish the UVA rape story.

Anyway, if I seem to avoiding talking about the exact plot of Perfect, that’s because there’s not really much of a plot to describe.  Adam, a hard-hitting investigative journalist, is doing research on a story about how people are hooking up at gyms.  Wenner agrees.  “We haven’t done L.A. in a while!” he says.  Adams joins the a gym called the Sports Connection, which he is soon calling “The Sports Erection” because he’s a super clever reporter.  He falls in love with an aerobics instructor, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis.  She doesn’t trust reporters but is eventually won over by Travolta’s … well, who knows?  Mostly she’s won over because the plot needs some conflict.  She gets on Adam’s computer and she types, “Want to fuck?”  Adam says sure but then tries too hard to dig into the dark secret from her past.  “You’re a sphincter muscle!” she shouts as him.  Adam writes a compassionate and balanced article about the Sports Connection.  Wenner edits the article and turn it into a sordid hit piece.  (And again, you wonder why Wenner agreed to play himself.)  Feelings are hurt, issues are resolved, and eventually everyone takes an aerobics class.

Honestly, the entire movie is mostly just a collection of scenes of Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta working out.  And, in all fairness, Curtis does about as well as anyone could in this terrible film.  Travolta, on the other had … well, just check out the scene below and maybe you’ll understand why I had a hard time concentrating on Travolta’s acting.

Perfect fails to live up to its name.