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Review: Blood Lake (1987)

Reviewer: Richard Mogg


Booze in the trunk, babes in the back seat, mullets on the move and toe rings on your lady’s feet. It’s 1987 and the heat is on! You gather up your closest buds and a few bodacious babes and head out for a radical summer vacation. Sure you’ve all got your wife-beaters and blitzin’ shades on, but where do six of Oklahoma’s hottest youth go to cool off? Carl’s Country Chicken? Think again. The lake of course! So tie down that speedboat on the back of your brother’s Corvette and get ready for the bumpy ride. For you’re not going to Herman’s Tropical Resort this summer... you’re going to the legendarily ordinary Blood Lake!

Possibly the greatest set-up for a motion picture, the basic premise of teens traveling into peril has served Hollywood well. From old (Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) to new (Turistas, Vacancy), introducing main characters and then moving them into new surroundings (and certain death) is not something 1960’s Psycho pioneered, but certainly aided in influencing so many horror films to follow. Not to imply that Psycho served as a direct influence on Blood Lake, but let’s look closer and compare the two. A great deal of Psycho’s first act deals with Marion Crane (the main character who will be killed off) and her theft of $40,000 (a plot point that really goes nowhere once Norman Bates enters the picture). Blood Lake takes this misdirection to a whole new level. The first two acts of Blood Lake show our main characters as they party, drink, smoke pot and go waterskiing... all of this dropped 50 minutes into the movie when the killer shows up. Coincidence?

In Psycho, Norman’s real reason for killing (disregarding all mental insanity problems) is that he is acting in his mother’s defense of himself. He kills when he feels that someone (usually a girl) gets too close and could come between himself and his mother. In Blood Lake however, the killer kills because he is acting in defense of the house and land he was tricked into selling. He kills the kids because they come between himself and his property. In Psycho, Norman stabs his victims with a carving knife. In Blood Lake, the killer stabs his victims with a steak knife. Open and shut case? You be the judge.

Of course, none of this is taken seriously. This film, above all others from the same year, seems more like a group of guys partying with a camcorder than anything else. The waterski sequences, though awesome, are obviously filler until killer-time and was probably the main reason the cast joined the production in the first place. The main character’s brother Tony, played by a 12 year-old-looking, mullet sporting good-old-boy, is the film’s only rising star. Not that he ever got an acting career, mind you. But he drinks booze, gets high, parties hard and repeatedly tries to get into his pre-teen girlfriend’s pants nearly every moment he’s onscreen. He’s also one of the foulest little shits since Sleepaway Camp’s own little Ricky. Basically, he’s every father’s worst nightmare... how could you resist?

So let’s check our ingredients, shall we? We’ve got six beer guzzling travelers, an isolated summer house, an ominous lake, a couple of local party boys and a fat, bearded man running around with a steak knife. End tally? SOLD! (So for those looking for a quick recommendation, you may now go and hunt down this flick). But how about we add the crème de resistance for all those still sitting on the fence... Blood Lake is an original SOV (Shot-On-Video) slasher! That’s right, camcorder craziness to the nth degree. So while the film plays as a typical mid-80’s slasher flick, it also doubles as a camcorder document of what life was really like back in Dokken’s glory days. Run out of hairspray? Give these 82 minutes a spin and watch as your hair frizzes on its own! “Gary, can you smell the fromage? It’s coming from your VCR, dude.”



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