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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, July 3, 2020

Blood Song (1982)

This is yet another of those slashers that kick off their story in the past. Here it is nineteen fifty-five and we see a man returning home from the airport. He walks into his house and kills his wife as well as her lover before turning the gun on himself. All of this happens in front of his young son. Well there is a slasher trope for you! Years later the grown-up child breaks out of the mental hospital by murdering an orderly for trying to take his wooden flute away. It was made for him by his father who had only taught him to play one song before the incident. That is important since he kills anyone that he thinks might take it away from him or gets annoyed that he only plays the one song.

Our other character is a high school girl named Marion. When we meet her, she is wearing a leg brace, which is also important to the plot. She was hurt in a car accident, caused by her drunken father, and had to have a blood transfusion. Guess from whom the blood came? Yep the killer. Somehow that allows her to see his crimes as he commits them. This leads to them meeting and a big showdown at a processing plant. I think that about sums this one up.

First thing I need to mention the biggest reason people, not many but we exist, are aware of this movie. The killer is played by Frankie Avalon the wholesome surfer from all those beach movies in the sixties. That is an odd, but as it turns out inspired choice. I had expected him to chew the scenery and play it over the top, but he doesn’t. Instead we get an excellent performance as he shines in the role. He is genuinely scary, even when he is delivering what could have been cheesy dialogue. There are times that the character feels genuinely unhinged, which is great. I thought this was a bit of stunt casting where they would pick a well-known actor playing against type to cover for inadequacies in the rest of the production. But that isn’t the case.

That brings me to the script. The story is solid and different from what I had seen that was made before this point in time. Blood Song was pretty early on in the slasher craze so to see such a unique take on the connection between the characters was sort of fun. Yeah, the idea that a blood transfusion could let you see into someone else’s mind is silly, but I dug it. Most importantly it was different. There are some slow spots in the movie, like the fact that it takes almost half an hour for the killer to get to town and a couple of extended stalking scenes that drag somewhat. Keeping me interested in the other parts of the story helped smooth over what could have been deal breakers.

My biggest complain about the movie are the kills. First up the yare really tame. Other than a single axe to the face there isn’t much in the way of blood. We see the killer strangle a woman and get into a fight with Marion’s Dad, played by the great Richard Jaeckel, and that is about it for the violence. Hell, there are only five kills in the entire flick! If you are looking for a body count/bloodbath then Blood Song isn’t for you. I will say there is a great gag with a severed head that I appreciated, but again manage your expectations when it comes to the gore.

In the end we have an interesting story with a great cast. In addition to the previously mentioned Frankie Avalon and Richard Jaeckel we also get a decent performance from Donna Wilkes as Marion. There was some talent here. But the lack of quality and quantity when it comes to the kills makes this a solid but not great entry into the slasher genre. Worth a watch and then I think most fans will never want or need to revisit it.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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