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BLEEDERS aka HEMOGLOBIN akaThe Descendents - 1997
Ratings: UK: 18 / USA: R
This 1997 movie is a breed apart from most modern day horror flicks in that it takes
its time to build a story. Fans of PSYCHO, ALIEN and PHANTASM might appreciate this. Fans of in your face Horror movies like A
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SCREAM,
and BLADE might get bored.
This movie is a first for writer Charles Adair, who is ably assisted by long time
Horror movie writers Dan O' Bannon (ALIEN, DEAD & BURIED, RETURN
OF THE LIVING DEAD, TOTAL RECALL,
SCREAMERS) and Ronald Shusett (ALIEN, DEAD & BURIED, TOTAL
RECALL). This a very good movie for a straight to video
flick and I think the reason it did not get to the theaters is precisely
because it takes so long to reveal itself. The worst thing about this
movie is the fact that it has a dull prologue and an entirely unnecessary
epilogue. Director Peter Svatek (WITCHBOARD III: The Possession) should have cut them out, despite the script. BLEEDERS could be so much better without them.
The movie itself starts on a boat heading for an island in the Canadian Maritimes.
French Canadian heart throb Roy Dupuis (SCREAMERS) plays the handsome but very sickly John Strauss. He is coming from Paris
in search of his family roots. An orphan, John is slowly being poisoned
by a rare inherited blood disease. Unless he can find relatives with the
same problem (and hopefully, a cure) he will die. He is accompanied and kept alive by his wife Kathleen (Kristen
Lehman: Urs in the TV series FOREVER KNIGHT).
The island is inhabited largely by women. The menfolk are mostly fishermen and nearly
all of them are out to sea chasing the fishies. It is here that John and
Kathleen meet Dr. Marlowe (Rutger Hauer: BLADE RUNNER, THE HITCHER, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER). A recent transplant to the island, Dr. Marlowe is
a man who has seen all his life's work destroyed and all of his dreams
shattered. The movie lightly balances the juxtaposition of John, a dying
young man trying to stay alive, and Dr. Marlowe, a living old man waiting
to die. These delicate touches throughout the movie are nice in that they
don't insult our intelligence with overkill. Anyone who has seen ALIEN
or DEAD & BURIED know that writers O' Bannon and Shusett take their
time in building up to the horror. The results have usually been disastrous
when O' Bannon tries it any other way, as he did with LIFEFORCE and SCREAMERS.
This is an island far from civilization however, and we all know what THAT means. This place has Evil Secrets! The first one is the mysterious
wealthy family that used to live on the island 70 years before. They were
killed when the islanders torched their house.
Another one is the fact that recently excavated coffins show that something tore the
former occupant out of the casket From Beneath. The third, though
by no means last secret, is that the Island occasionally experiences minor
"It's just the island settling," Dr. Marlowe tells Kathleen. Nobody asks, "Settling? Settling into what?" But it tells us that the island must be hollow in places, and indeed this is so: it is honeycombed with caves.
Therein lies the story.
Peter Svatek's direction is beautifully assisted by the cinematography of Barry Gravelle
(WITCHBOARD III: The Possession, THE LOST WORLD).
Unlike so many low budget horror movies that leave you staring at the
scenery simply to fill up the time required for a "feature length"
movie, Gravelle has a real eye for showing how the women go about their
day to day lives, interact, and exist so cut off from the rest of the
world. This, combined with shots of various parts of the island make us
understand just how truly isolated it really is. Svatek and Gravelle give
us all this scenery without ever allowing the movie to stop dead in its
tracks. Unlike, say, most Nicolas Roeg movies, the cinematography advances
the story. We are never given the opportunity to say, "Enough already,
get on with the flick!".
THE DVD IN THE U.S. HAD A SUBTLE DIFFERENCE IN COVER DESIGN. IT ALSO INCLUDED A SPECIAL PACKAGING WHERE IF YOU SQUEEZED IT, FAKE BLOOD WOULD SWIRL AROUND THE COVER.
Sometimes, when you watch as many horror movies as I do, you need to step back and
get someone else's perspective. This one came in the form of my wife,
Luz (no horror fan she!), who was
fully engrossed in this flick. To my surprise, it appears that this movie
speaks to women on many levels, yet is no where near as cloy as your typical
Hollywood "chick flick". Where I found John puny and whiny (Oh
buck up man! Jason and Michael have been through a lot worse and have
come back for more! Ya wimp!), she found him to be an honest portrayal
of a young man who has everything to live for but is dying against his
will. She was impressed with Dupuis' acting ability and in one very crucial
scene, one where John attempts to rape his wife, she actually found him
even more sympathetic.
John has a strong build and, after receiving still more disheartening news about
his condition, turns to his wife Kathleen and begins kissing her, hugging
her, and being very physically, sexually aggressive. Surprised and overwhelmed
by his sexual desperation, Kathleen fights back, kicking and screaming
John does stop, but only because his disease has made him too weak to
overpower her. His energies are quickly exhausted and he collapses. She
kicks herself away from him and, crying at the corner of the bed, shouts
"What's wrong with you?"
Feebly, her giant husband crawls toward her, entreating her by touching
the hem of her torn skirt, then cautiously laying his head on her lap.
With tears running down his face and his look of wide-eyed lost confusion,
"I love you, Kathleen: and I'm dying."
Which seems to be a real gear shifter for women. From the frightening, shocking battle
of rape, right into the wide open vulnerability of the attacker. That's a tear jerker.
BLEEDERS has a few moments like this. The writers and director were again thoughtful
enough not to stop the action for an emotional moment. Instead, the sense
of the action is part of the emotions that come into play in this film.
Few Horror movie makers understand this.
On the other hand,BLEEDERS builds up to many scary moments that, for me, just didn't pan out. The
video comes with a specialty packaging that, when squeezed, makes fake
blood curdle all around the box. This combined with the wall of flesh
and heads on the cover, made me expect a lot more in the gruesome department.
The grue is almost nonexistent, although there are a few choice and scary
For me, I would have preferred a finale battle with a huge End Boss with lots of
heads and arms and enough hearts and brains that he/she can take a hit
or two and keep coming. Killing the End Boss with a pack of dynamite or
maybe a bazooka that one of the more oddball islanders kept handy would
have been a great ending for me.
But then, I'm a guy.
My wife (again, ignoring the stupid epilogue) liked the ending just the way it
was. Like many women I've known, it made her happy to cry over a movie so sad.
So if you are a guy, and you are with your gal, and you want to see a horror movie
with good old Rutger Hauer, I suggest BLEEDERS (in some countries it goes by the tepid title HEMOGLOBIN).
You will like the sex scenes, she will like the love scenes (which are the same scenes), and its a decent little scary movie to boot.
Three Shriek Girls for this Horror/Date movie.
copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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