We love an Outposter contribution here at Last Movie Outpost, and Wrenage loves to contribute! Here he is with another of his trademark watch-along Retro Reviews and this time, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you can’t even get to it. It’s Blood Beach.
Blood Beach (1981)
Big movies are in theaters again. I even went to see one of them. Like the mighty groundhog, what I saw caused me to return to my burrow, broken. It looks like we have six more weeks of winter, at least, when it comes to this current phase of movie folk making it their life mission to create works of fart.
Escaping into the past, I combed the depths of my brain for something interesting to watch. I remembered a movie poster from yesteryear that always stuck with me — that of a screaming bikini woman being sucked into the sand with the title Blood Beach.
Saddle up. We’re doing a running diary of Blood Beach. We’re going in with full spoilers, a sunburn, and sand in our underwear.
The camera pans across a remote beach. No pristine white sand, blue skies, and blue water here. This is 1981. The camera is allowed to film ugly things. The sand is gray like my hopes; the sky is gray like my hopes’ socks, and the water is gray like a gray crayon writing the word gray on a picture of Jamie Lee Curtis’s hair.
The credits roll. Blood Beach is a Sir Run Run Shaw Production. Does this mean Blood Beach is a Shaw Brothers movie?
Sir Run Run Shaw is indeed the Shaw of Shaw Brothers. He died in 2014 at 106-years-old. He produced more than 1,000 movies. Dude even co-produced Blade Runner.
I wonder if Sir Run Run had a hand in Tower of the Drunken Dragons — a movie I saw on USA’s Kung Fu Theater many moons ago. Tower of the Drunken Dragons was about this king-of-the-mountain-style contest where two clans fought to reach the top of a tower. They were so hardcore that the ladders going up the tower had rungs made from swords, blades up. Since Sir Run Run apparently produced every movie in existence, I can probably figure he produced Tower of the Drunken Dragons, as well.
Back to Blood Beach — we are looking at a pier that appears to be entirely composed of algae holding hands. The camera goes underneath the pier. I wouldn’t go under there. The only things you’re likely to find under that pier are trash and possibly Harley Warren.
The credits inform me Blood Beach was written and directed by Jeffrey Bloom. Checking Bloom’s filmography, it looks like the only other thing Bloom made that I’ve seen is the 1983 anthology-horror film Nightmares, with Emilio Esteves. Emilio is quite a name, very dense. Say it out loud, and your mouth feels like it ran a 5K.
We’re on a nicer part of the beach now, with houses. A man wearing a wetsuit vest over a sweater steps out onto the sand. My mistake. He’s not wearing a sweater. He has a hairy chest. Conveniently enough, the character’s name is Harry.
I recognize this actor, David Huffman. Where have I seen him before? Oh yeah, he’s in Firefox as the negative-nilly working opposite all-time-great-scenery-chewer Freddie Jones.
He has this line:
“Then what was all that coded stuff we intercepted between Bilyarsk and the fire-chain stations? They got him, Aubrey! They blew his ass right out of the sky!”
While heading to the water for a swim, Harry banters with an old lady out walking her dog. The old lady looks straight out of a Metamucil commercial as she bounds about the sand with the vim and vigor of a senior citizen with regular bowel movements.
(Note to self: purchase Metamucil…)
Harry enters the water. I see what they’re doing. They know they’re riffing on Jaws and want me to think the man is in danger for swimming, but it is actually the old lady on the beach that is about to become the movie’s inaugural victim.
Yep, the old lady’s foot sinks into the sand. She can’t pull it free. She shrieks and gets sucked into the sand while her dog barks. It might be a cheesy effect, but it is effective. I wonder when that sand-sucking effect was first used? The original Invaders From Mars maybe?
Do you think Tremors took inspiration from Blood Beach? It would not surprise me. Man, Tremors is a fun movie — beautifully-done creature feature. Maybe George Lucas got his Sarlacc from Blood Beach, as well. Did you know Sarlaccs share a common ancestry with Rathtar, Blixus, and Vixus species?
You didn’t? And you call yourself a Star Wars fan? You should be ashamed of yourself. Sarlacc ancestry is Star Wars Knowledge 101.
Anyway, Harry wonders what happened to the old lady. She is nowhere to be seen when he exits the water. Only her dog remains. Meanwhile, a bag lady perched in a nearby building like Lee Harvey Oswald witnessed old lady’s demise.
A street musician rocks a saxophone while the aforementioned bag lady dances past him. She is literally dancing, not merely stepping lively around all of the used needles on the ground. Blood Beach is from 1981 remember. It predates the collapse of Western Civilization.
The scene switches to Harry talking to two guys about the missing old lady. Hey, one of those guys is Paulie from the Rocky movies — Burt Young!
Young was the go-to guy if you needed a loveable mook back in the day, the same way Soon-Tek Oh was the go-to guy if you needed an Asian guy, and George Buck Flower was your go-to guy if you needed a drunk guy.
Burt doesn’t seem to be playing a loveable mook in Blood Beach, though. He seems like kind of a jerk. Maybe he was trying to broaden his range with Blood Beach.
I can see Burt discussing the career move with his agent now:
Burt: I can do more.
Agent: What…like juggle?
Burt: No, play more characters than loveable mook.
Agent: Loveable schlub?
Burt: You get me a good role with more range or you’re fired.
Agent: (shuffling papers) How about jerk guy in Blood Beach?
Burt: All I heard from you is “Oscar Nomination” you magnificent bastard.
Additional sidenote: all of the peripheral characters in Blood Beach look so real. Nothing on them is coiffed, tucked, nipped, or injected. If they showed up in Hollywood today, the only way they are making it onscreen is if they are looking down from a belltower shouting “Sanctuary!”
A car drives by a building with a sign that proclaims itself to be Moby’s Dock. Due to my classical education, I get that reference, and like a person pointing out Walrus Man in Rogue One to display their incredible film knowledge to all within earshot, I will mention my recognition of the reference in an overly loud voice, as well:
“That’s a reference to Moby the musician!”
A woman gets out of the car. She goes into the Harbor Master office, which has adopted old lady’s dog, and pets it. This woman is the daughter of old lady. Her name is Kathy. She also knows Harry, who is said Harbor Master. They were once in a relationship.
As Kathy says her estranged hellos to Harry, a shirtless guy named Hoagy steps out of the backroom, looking all guilty. What were Harry and Hoagy doing back there before Kathy walked in? Trading shirts to see who looked better in them? Let us speak of this no more.
Harry and Kathy leave Hoagy behind and catch up while looking out on the water. Come on you crazy kids, can’t you see that you were made for each other?
Kathy wants to know what happened to her mom. All Harry can say is that he heard a scream, and then the old lady’s dog barking…
“In a way never heard before.”
I’ve heard many dogs barking in my life, but I can’t really say I’ve heard much difference in all of that barking. Are there connoisseurs of dog barking than can discern the subtle differences of dog barks the way wine tasters can discern the subtle differences of vintages?
That bark had a nutty undertone, with a bit of a flowery crescendo.
That bark was light and airy, like a feather on a white lie.
Kathy vows that she is staying until she finds her mom, which means she is going to be at Blood Beach until Judgment Day. Think before you speak, Kathy.
Kathy is revealed to be an artist as she putters about a studio. The music here reminds me of James Horner’s score to the opening of Aliens. The soundtrack of Blood Beach is punching a bit above its weight.
The composer is a guy named Gil Melle, who was a jazz musician. He did the soundtrack for things like The Sentinel, Kolchak, and the Yul Brenner vehicle, The Ultimate Warrior. I saw The Ultimate Warrior on TBS once. I remember Brenner being tiny and knife-y. William Smith, who would have been a great Kraven the Hunter, also starred.
We are only nine minutes into the movie, and it is edging into soap opera territory with Harry and Kathy. I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about this. The movie is called Blood Beach, not The Young And The Bloodless Beach.
Kathy stands outside and looks wistful while feelings happen inside of her. The bag lady wanders into frame and rants about how Kathy’s mother was murdered and is under the sand. Kathy listens but appears to deem bag lady’s claim implausible.
You should listen to the harbinger, Kathy!
Harbinger…now there’s a great word. It’s almost as good as writhing.
Beware the writhing harbinger…knocking at your cellar door, Emilio!
A lovely sentence, that…
Here we find out the reason Harry is not all over Kathy after she walked back into his life. Harry has a girlfriend — a blond stewardess with an accent.
A hairy chest and a French girlfriend — could Harry be any manlier?
I imagine it would be fun to be married to a stewardess. You are married, but you still get to live like a single guy when she is working. One day you are out with the better half, reaching things off high shelves, listening like you care, watching the clock during foreplay to make sure you aren’t being sexually selfish, and manoeuvring around PMS symptoms like a running back in the open field. The next day you are on the couch watching whatever you want on TV, eating donuts, and smelling yourself. That’s living the dream!
The movie does some switching back and forth between scenes here. First, we are with Harry and his girlfriend. Next, we are with the dog as it goes out at night to search the beach for the old lady. Will he bark in a way not heard before if he finds something?
Back to Harry being seduced by his stewardess girlfriend. Her character is actually called “Girlfriend” in the credit list. She is played by Marleta Giles. Giles has four other credits. Blood Beach and roles in Murder She Wrote, Hunter and Dynasty.
Remember DeeDee McCall from Hunter? I remember DeeDee McCall from Hunter. Remember DeeDee McCall’s short appearance in The Man With Two Brains?
“Why can’t she be dead?”
*Car hits her*
Back to the dog digging in the sand as he searches for the old lady. Kathy goes out to look for the dog at this point. Speaking of Kathy, she is played by Marianne Hill.
Hill was also in High Plains Drifter. She was the lady Clint has his way with at the beginning of the film. In addition, she had a role in Godfather Part II and a decent number of appearances in things like Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Outer Limits, etc.
Back to Harry love-wrestling with his stewardess girlfriend.
Back to Kathy approaching the dog. The dog does not respond to Kathy’s calls. The dog merely sits on the sand. Kathy reaches out to touch the dog and… the dog’s head is gone! Nice!
Kathy and Harry go to the cops about the beheaded dog. A sombre doctor comes out to tell them that he is:
“sure the dog was brutally, savagely killed. The killer was a large man, or an average-sized man with unusually-sized hands…or very strong, with long sharp fingernails.”
That certainly narrows it down.
Wait, did I see an actor give a serious autopsy report on a dog while everyone else listened equally seriously? High marks, movie!
Harry and Kathy go boating. They continue to cautiously rekindle the old flame. This movie seems to be attempting to give these characters depth. I’m not sure that is the right track. The movie is 90 minutes long. We are 17 minutes in and we’ve already seen Harry and Kathy do this dance twice now. It’s bogging the movie down.
Fortunately, the movie seems to realize it’s falling off the beam. It switches to a beach montage. Bikinis? Check. Frisbees? Check. A girl buried up to her neck in sand? Check.
Suddenly, the buried girl screams, “Ouch! Something is biting my feet!”
Buried Girl’s friends dig her up, and her legs look like someone drizzled strawberry syrup all over them. Perhaps she was attacked by the Strawberry Quik Bunny.
Did you know that rabbit had a name? Quiky! However, his name was changed in 1999 to the Nesquik Bunny. That doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but I suppose it’s less offensive to slow people. If slow people heard the name Quiky, it might trigger them by reminding them of their lack of speed.
Personally, I find bunny offensive, as well, because of its associations with Playboy. I’d rather we called the mascot the Nesquik Oryctolagus Cuniculus.
Jon Saxon sighting!
Saxon is great. Never mind that, if constipation had a face, it would look like Saxon (if Metamucil had a face, it would look like Jim Carrey). I’d classify Saxen as B-Level Legendary. He was in Enter the Dragon, Battle Beyond the Stars and Nightmare on Elm Street.
Saxon is in full-on angry police chief mode in Blood Beach.
“We got women disappearing. We got a dog with its head bitten off. We got a lovely blond — from Beverly Hills, no less — slumming here, who suffered massive damage to both her once pretty legs.
She may be crippled for life and had her mind blown to the moon because she laid on a beach. Oh yeah, and her parents also happen to be giving large donations to the mayor. We even got a telegram from the society of prevention of cruelty to animals to find whatever did this. Not get out there and catch my perp!”
They don’t waste any time. The movie cuts to a backhoe digging up the beach while guys run around with Geiger counters. The authorities don’t bother with seeking a reasonable explanation. They immediately jump to it being a monster.
The movie perhaps goes awry on this point. Instead of following Harry and Kathy around having conversations, the movie could have focused on the monster mystery.
The only one not on board with the monster theory is Burt Young. He declares it a big waste of time. He knows exactly what they should be looking for instead — Nazis!
Burt’s partners laugh at him, but he’s actually pretty far ahead of the game. Blood Beach came out in January 1981. Raiders of the Lost Ark didn’t come out until June to put Nazi villains back on the map, big-time.
For the sake of curiosity, I looked up what other movies we got in only June of 1981. We got Clash of the Titans, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cannonball Run, Superman II, Dragonslayer, For Your Eyes Only, Roadgames and Stripes.
This is why I live in the past, Hollywood, and, more importantly to you, why my money lives there, as well. In case you’re looking for it…
Harry returns to swimming. It’s a bad sign when a movie repeats itself to fill the time. Kathy watches Harry swim. She may not be undressing Harry with her eyes, but she is definitely imagining him in funny costumes.
Bag lady enters the scene. She ominously tries to hand Kathy the collar of the beheaded dog, but it looks more like one of those hairband things girls wore in grade school. This scene is a bit clunky. It could have been cut, methinks. It feels like the filmmakers are straining to hit that magic 90-minute mark.
Like Peter Benchley in Jaws, we got a news reporter on the beach. He is investigating the incidents. He talks to a trio of teenagers, who look like people the moviemakers picked off the beach to say a few lines. The kids are having a blast with it.
These kids are probably close to retirement age by now. I wonder if they regale their grandkids with the story of when they were in a real-live movie.
“No one cares, boomer. I got 100K followers on my Eating-Expired-Tuna Youtube channel.”
One of the kids drops the title of the movie, “Blood Beach, man.” The other kids theorize a “creature” is behind the nefarious attacks. If I knew a monster was sucking people into the sand on a certain beach, I don’t think I’d go there, but an old saying exists — the masses are asses.
Harry and Hoagy have a moment to reflect on the situation. Harry thinks things are serious enough that Hoagy should carry a gun. The suggestion is delivered with a gravitas that rings hollow to my Midwestern ears.
Everyone has a gun where I live. You basically come out of the womb with a gun. As a result, guns have all of the fascinations of furniture. Saying you need a gun is like saying you need a microwave. No one needs a microwave. Everyone has a microwave.
Meanwhile, a guy plays violin at sunset while Kathy paints pictures. Again, the music is a bit more soulful than the movie deserves. Kathy hears a strange noise while painting and goes to the window to investigate.
A cat hops through the window for a jump scare, even though Kathy has never been shown owning a cat, nor has a cat been seen anywhere else in the movie.
Not even a third of the way in, and the movie is already gasping for life. Something interesting needs to happen soon.
Hoagy kisses his girlfriend goodbye. They have an elaborate parting ritual. They sing a song to each other. Researching the lyrics, it appears they are singing Fools For Each Other by Guy Clark. I listened to it, but I don’t recognize it. I remember a lot of Crystal Gayle, Juice Newton and Dolly Parton at this time, but I don’t remember Guy Clark.
Hoagy’s girl takes off on a bike. She sees a bird struggling in the sand. Since it is the dead of night and she is alone, of course, she is going to hop off her bike and walk under the pier to investigate. It’s only a seagull, lady — a rat of the sky.
The viewer assumes the girl will be a victim of the creature, but the movie throws an unexpected curveball. The girl is attacked by a would-be rapist instead. The girl fights him off, and the rapist creepily crawls across the sand to get back into the fray.
The Blood Beach monster then castrates the rapist. Sucks his junk into the sand and rips it off.
Welp, earlier, I said the movie needs something interesting to happen soon. I guess it heard me.
Cops are on the scene of the attack. Burt Young doesn’t feel sad for the rapist. He believes the rapist got what he deserved. I’d probably side with him on that one. You jump a girl in the dark with bad intentions and you forfeit a lot of basic compassion.
Meanwhile, Saxon pines for cooperation and support.
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Saxon opines. Starring in The Bees (1978), perhaps? To show how serious Saxon is about solving these crimes, he announces he is bringing in the big guns — geologists. I did not see that line coming. The FBI? Maybe. The army? Possibly. But geologists? They are pretty far down my list of disaster plan contacts.
Saxon also utters the tagline of the movie,
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you can’t get to it…”
Blood Beach was made six years after Jaws and three years after Jaws II. Is the fact that they are still riffing on Jaws proof the makers of Blood Beach were behind the times, or is it proof of how much impact Jaws had on that era?
The doctor who somberly did the dog autopsy pontificates on the nature of the creature they seek. If you doubt his expertise, he has a pipe. I honestly can’t remember anything he said, but he has a pipe. Obviously, he knows what he’s talking about. I’d put him in high in the government and in charge of all responses to COVID based on that pipe.
Occasionally, the movie goes to the monster point-of-view, and the music goes into the monster theme. I finally realize why the theme seems vaguely familiar. It kind of sounds like the theme to the Monsters anthology show that ran from 1988-1991.
After the attack on the rapist, the movie goes back to its safe space — Harry and Kathy talk to each other. This stretches the movie to its breaking point. The sand-sucking is cool, but it’s not enough of a gimmick to sustain an entire movie of Harry and Kathy talking.
Look to Tremors for how this concept was done better. It did a nice job focusing on the activity of monsters and keeping the stakes raised. First, we saw what the Graboids did. Then we saw their effect on something in the moment. Then we saw their tongues. Then we saw the whole creature.
Blood Beach is getting bogged down in human drama, much like the latest James Bond movie. It’s not the road to travel.
Now we get to watch Harry cook. In the process, he breaks off a chunk of bread and makes a celery sandwich. This seems to be the act of an actor who realizes they are doing boring things and are trying to give a bit of life to the proceedings.
Outside the house, Girlfriend returns from being a stewardess. She parks her car and heads inside to eat whatever vittles Harry has whipped up. It’s windy, and the girlfriend’s hat blows off. She goes to retrieve her hat from the beach and… slurp!
The girlfriend gets sucked into the sand. The thrill is gone at this point, however. We’ve seen it too many times and nothing new is added to it. As a result, it isn’t particularly scary anymore. It is just a person falling through a giant bag of sand with a hole in the bottom.
Harry thinks he got stood up by the girl, so he goes to Kathy’s house. He brings wine and flowers and a big loaf of French bread. Nothing phallic about that. Harry is not worried about his girlfriend being a no-show. She probably got stuck at the airport. It happens all the time. Kathy then announces she will soon divorce her husband. Subtle.
Harry returns home. The next morning, he goes outside and notices his girlfriend’s car parked in the driveway. She came home last night, after all. But where could she be?
Harry looks out on the beach and sees his girlfriend’s hat next to a crater in the sand. Combine this implication with Kathy’s divorce announcement, and Harry leaps into the air and pumps his fist. No more obstacles exist that prevent him from making a move on Kathy!
Just kidding. Harry is sad about the demise of his girlfriend. I think…
The geologists are on the scene! Now we’ll get somewhere. Nobody can save the day like geologists. Burt heckles the geologists as they dig in the sand, presumably where Harry’s girlfriend was sucked underneath it. The geologists find an eyeball. Burt displays the baggy containing the eyeball and asks Harry, “What color eyes did the stewardess have?”
That’s cold, Burt. Why not just say…
Hey, Harry, I don’t think your girlfriend will be seeing you around anymore!
Hey, Harry, let’s take a vote. Is your girlfriend dead? The eyes have it!
Hey, Harry, why did your girlfriend cross the road? Probably because she couldn’t see where she was going because a monster ate her eyes!
As for the geologists — MAJOR SPOILERS — they are never seen in the movie again. So much for bringing in the big guns…
The movie switches to a board meeting. Blood Beach has a lot of trouble sustaining energy. Something interesting happens, and then too much talking makes you forget it happened.
A councilwoman with plastic fruit on her hat berates the police for not spending tax dollars wisely. She angrily asserts the police have no results even though they have been investigating the monster “for the better part of a week.”
Hold the phone, lady. A previously-unknown monster appears out of nowhere, and the police don’t have sufficient results after working the case “for the better part of a week?”
That’s five days. People have been investigating the Loch Ness Monster since the year 565. I’d give the police department at least a full week before I got bent out of shape on results.
Saxon fires back at this Karen-type councilwoman. He explains the council has already cut the “twigs and berries” off the police department with “proposition thirteen.” Saxon then calls the councilwoman a “grandstanding twelch and a snot-nosed, scissor-billed probate.”
The sad part is that even as Saxon delivers goofy dialogue like this, he does not appear to be having fun. Then again, Saxon never seems like he’s having fun. As I said earlier: “if constipation had a face, it would look like Saxon.”
Harry looks out on the water… again… and ponders things. Is Kathy there to talk to Harry? You bet! Kathy is sorry about the stewardess. Meanwhile, Harry wants “answers to hard questions.” Are they looking for a person or a thing? Real or unreal?
The movie and characters already established it’s a monster. Don’t go backwards, Harry! Stop with the waffling, ya twelch!
“Even Santa Claus has a home. The monster must have a place it goes back to, but there haven’t been any patterns anyone can figure out!”
All of the attacks were on the same beach, yes? That’s a pattern, no? Hence, perhaps — and I’m spit-balling here — maybe the monster lives close by?
While Harry and Kathy talk, a weird shadow mars the top of the screen. I’m wondering if the shadow is perhaps boom mike-related. The sound guy probably got overzealous not wanting to miss a single word of the 943rd conversation between Harry and Kathy.
Harry takes matters into his own hands. He will hunt the creature down himself!
Harry meanders under the pier. Then Harry meanders further. Finally, Harry meanders some more. The movie will reach the 90-minute mark by hook or by crook. Never fear, producers! We will get this sucker up to feature-length for distribution!
According to the timestamp, Harry has been wandering under the pier for a full three minutes now. Three minutes may not sound like much, but time is relative in a movie like this. Three minutes of doing the exact same thing is a mini-eternity.
After four minutes of wandering, Harry hits a dead end that has what looks like cracks in a brick wall with sunlight shining through them.
The music turns ominous. What am I missing here? They are cracks in a wall. I fail to see the significance. Even as Harry leaves, the camera lingers on these cracks.
In an effort to solve the mystery, I went to Wikipedia’s Blood Beach plot synopsis to see if it shed any light on this matter. The synopsis had this line:
“After finding nothing, he leaves the tunnel, not noticing a movement in a collapsed section of the wall.”
I did not notice any movement, but I went back to rewatch it so you don’t have to. Yes, it is subtle, but a bit of movement exists. Again, the music saves the day. Without the music, I never would have had a clue anything interesting happened.
We got a guy in white shoes, black socks and checkered shorts out running a metal detector over the sand. The guy finds a tin can lid. I bet he will also find death. Yep, Metal Detector Guy is not sucked into the sand, however. Rather, the monster point-of-view gets him.
My guess is the crew got tired of moving the sand-sucking setup around that day and asked the director to let the camera eat the guy instead.
Cut to a bar. A singer rocks out a song. For a moment I mistake the singer for Robert Culp. A harmonica soloist lays down a harmony as a lady joins the pseudo-Robert Cup for a duet.
Hey! Pseudo-Robert Culp is Hoagy and the lady is his previously-assaulted girlfriend! I couldn’t tell right away because the movie did not do a good job of establishing them. This scene pays off that earlier scene where they say goodbye to each other by singing.
I apologize, Blood Beach. I never should have doubted your meticulous structure.
Harry and Kathy have a candlelight dinner, which leads to them sucking face in bed within thirty seconds. The pace is a problem with Blood Beach. Hoagy singing got more screentime than Harry and Kathy’s reconciliation, which is somewhat pivotal considering the movie has been trying to get them together since the first five minutes.
On one hand, I’m glad the movie is moving on. On the other hand, it’s a bit jarring the way Blood Beach goes from padding time to glossing over things. The story has a very loose focus. The movie strings scenes together in a way that serves as a narrative, but the scenes do not feel connected to each other by momentum.
For example, earlier Harry made dinner for his girlfriend. The movie showed the girlfriend getting sucked into the sand. Then Harry went to have dinner with Kathy. Momentum was lost as soon as Harry went to be with Kathy.
A more energetic sequence goes like this: Harry makes dinner for his girlfriend. His girlfriend gets sucked into the sand. Harry gets worried and goes out looking for his girlfriend. Harry finds his girlfriend’s hat on the beach. Cut to the next morning. The geologists find the girlfriend’s eye. Harry and Kathy then have a moment as Kathy leads him away from the scene to comfort him after Burt’s insensitive comments.
The wife of Metal Detector Guy shows up at the police station to file a missing-person report. Burt takes her statement, which goes into strangely great detail. Her husband was wearing “nylon executive socks, the kind that come up high in case you cross your legs while wearing a suit.”
She describes his shorts, which were blue-and-red mattress Bermudas. Does that mean you could sleep on them in a pinch? I’ve never heard the term mattress applied to shorts before.
I had an awesome pair of Bermudas once, grey with red and blue palm trees on them. I got them because a girl I liked had a pair with the same pattern, and I thought that would give me a reason to speak to her, and then we’d probably get married.
What can I say? I was twelve… and our matching Bermuda shorts never came up.
Anyway, Metal Detector Guy also wore a gold pinky ring, not smooth, with a tiger on it, along with a black-on-black, luminance-dial, seventeen-jewel SCUBA watch with matching black band. The man’s shirt was minutely described, as well, but Burt had a hard time getting past the fact that the t-shirt’s color was aquamarine.
I feel you, Burt. Who can comprehend a color named after a watery soldier?
Saxon goes on another mini-rant. Mini-rants are all Saxon does in Blood Beach. This time it is about all of the crackpots calling in with sightings of the creature and how all of the testimonies contradict each other. Some say the monster is large and hairy. Others say it is small and bald. Some say it has wings. Others say it doesn’t have wings. You get the idea.
This movie has become stuck in a strange pattern of listing all of a sudden. We had the missing-person report that went into great detail listing clothing. Now we have this scene that lists all of the witness testimonies. Blood Beach then goes to yet another listing scene…
Burt is eating a hamburger at a stand. He starts talking to the hamburger-stand owner about how bad business has become since the monster showed up. This leads to Burt listing what could happen if hamburger-stand owners of the world united. It’s like the screenwriter needed more pages to beef up the movie’s length, and he added them by going back and inserting a bunch of lists to this section of the story.
Suddenly, a scream is heard. A guy who looks all chewed up crawls out of the sewer. Wait a minute, it’s Metal Detector Guy! He escaped the monster.
Saxon is at the hospital and gives a statement to reporters about Metal Detector Guy. Metal Detector Guy is not much help as a witness. Doctors say he has considerable brain damage. Burt chimes in and helpfully adds:
“he is vegetable soup.”
Also, Metal Detector Guy’s tongue got ripped out.
That combination would make communication a bit of a challenge, no doubt.
Hoagy sees Bag Lady on the beach. Hoagy believes that is unsafe, so he follows the bag lady and cajoles her to come with him. Since this is 1981, the bag lady does not accuse Hoagy of stalking. She ignores him and climbs into her little nest under the pier instead. Hoagy tries to get her to come out by talking about how much the area has changed since he was a kid.
This little spiel makes Hoagy super-humanized. Why would the movie suddenly want to tug on my heartstrings and make me feel something for Hoagy?
What possible purpose could this emotional manipulation serve?
Aaaaaaaaand Hoagy gets sucked into the sand. Now I’m sad because the movie made him a person. Hoagy’s sand-sucking scene is the best one. Hoagy begs the bag lady for help, but she merely watches him go under with an expression of pity on her face.
Remember when Harry searched under the pier for about five minutes of run-time? Now Kathy is searching under that same section of the pier, as well. Been there, done that.
Groaning, I am about to close my eyes and take a micro-nap when Kathy screams. She found a human head. Next, a whole bunch of body parts fall out of the ceiling.
What we have here is a creature that burrows underground but stores food in ceilings. At one time, I would have been unsure how to wrap my brain around this concept. Then I got married and began sharing a home with a woman. A monster that lives underground yet stores its food in ceilings is perfectly reasonable now. I have seen much more confusing things in marriage. As the great Al Bundy once said about women:
“When you share a bathroom with a woman, you got nylons hanging on the curtain rod, you got Nair where the toothpaste should be, a bottle of vinegar lying around. I mean, what do they do in there, make a salad?”
Now that everyone knows where the monster lives, they converge on the location the way the authorities converged on the Chrysler Building in Q: The Winged Serpent.
Saxon wants to rig the place with explosives and infrared cameras. Burt is all for the explosives part of the plan. Meanwhile, the doctor kneels down, mulls the area over and says:
“it must have laid here. You can almost see the shape of the thing on the ground.”
All I see is sand and boards, but the actor playing the doctor is taking the old adage of there are no small parts, only small actors to heart. His name is Stefan Gierasch. Interestingly, he was also in High Plains Drifter, along with Jeremiah Johnson, The Hustler, Carrie and even the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Junior.
After her encounter with all of the body parts, Kathy is traumatized. Harry is on the scene to comfort her with coffee. Good call. Caffeine should take the edge off…
Back to the monster carnival. The whole town is there. Spotlights flit around like it’s a movie premiere. Police put cameras and explosives all over the monster’s lair. All of the cameras are hooked up to a bunch of monitors in a big trailer. The media is present and narrates the events. Plus, a moody saxophone plays over it all. The composer is still trying. Bless his heart.
Eventually, we enter the police trailer. The doctor gives a moody soliloquy, asking if people know of the variety of creatures below God’s green earth, each innately capable of a remarkable act known as the REGENERATIVE PROCESS. What will happen if we blow it up? What might become of each Smithereen?
Earlier, I apologized to Blood Beach for the Hoagy/Girlfriend singing set-up, but I might retract that apology. I’m not sure you can foreshadow something like the REGENERATIVE PROCESS this close to the end. Chekov’s Gun is introduced in the first act, not the final act.
Everyone continues to wait for the monster to show up. Saxon drinks coffee. Burt shares a bit of chocolate with Harry, which, again seems like something a couple of actors would come up with on the spot so they are at least doing something.
None of this works. It’s not a good thing when the climax of this kind of movie is all of the main characters standing around and waiting. None of them are active.
Remember the climax to Tremors? That also had a blow-up-the-monster ending, but they built to it with clever gags and had the stampede concept setup from the beginning of the movie, plus there was lots of running, yelling, forgetting lighters and other things that gave the proceedings heaps of momentum.
Finally, the monster appears. You can’t see anything on the infrared monitors but a red blob. The camera does cut to the real thing, however. The creature is basically a Sarlacc. It has a bulbous body and a flower mouth. It doesn’t look great, but it’s passable for a movie like this.
Despite protests from the doctor, Burt blows the beastie up. That also doesn’t work story-wise. Harry and Kathy should have confronted and bested the monster. They were the main characters and the ones directly affected by its killings.
Instead, the unlikeable Burt character presses the detonator with his foot.
After the explosion, little bits of debris glitter in the air. It reminds me of the end of Die Hard when all of that paper is falling from the sky. The sparkles then transition to people playing on the beach. It’s a nice edit.
Harry and Kathy close up her mom’s house and drive off into the sunset.
Meanwhile, on the crowded beach, a boy digs in the sand. The camera pans from the boy to his mom as she makes him a sandwich. When the camera pans back to the boy, he is gone. The mom looks around and calls out his name.
Nice job, movie! That was a perfectly-executed gag.
The camera then roams around the beach to show a bunch of little craters, created from each Smithereen of the creature, appearing here and there.
REGENERATIVE PROCESS! DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!
All of the parts are here for a reasonably good coda, but it still doesn’t work quite right. They needed to shake up the order. Start with showing little craters appearing here and there on the beach. Next, show the mom making the sandwich. Show her boy gone. Then show Harry and Kathy driving off into the sunset. As the camera follows their car down the street, pan over to see the mom wandering through the crowded beach calling out her boy’s name.
We made it to the finish line. Blood Beach is not a great movie. Excellent concept, but its runtime is mostly made up of people talking and things vaguely orbiting the point of the movie — a monster that lives under sand and eats people.
Blood Beach was quasi-remade as The Sand in 2015. I have seen The Sand. Believe it or not, it’s kind of fun, despite its dodgy CGI. The Sand is a SyFy Channel-type movie, but it does a better job with the concept.
Instead of being all over the place like Blood Beach, The Sand stays on a small stretch of beach with a small group of characters. Everyone is trapped there. The Sand basically is The Floor Is Lava Game played out as the characters try to escape the beach without touching the sand. Once you touch the sand, you’re a goner.
If you want to watch a monster-under-stand-eating-people movie, skip Blood Beach and check out The Sand. The creators of Blood Beach were onto something for sure, but they couldn’t dig the gold out of the concept. The Sand did it better. Tremors did it best. The Burrowers (2008) is okay. I’ve never seen Sand Sharks (2011). If it wasn’t for Blood Beach, maybe we never would have gotten any of them. Blood Beach deserves recognition for that.
Then again, maybe Blood Beach was inspired by that episode of The Outer Limits with Adam West, where the astronauts fight those alien sand-shark things — The Invisible Enemy.
I like to think the Sarlacc came from Blood Beach, though. I don’t care if I’m wrong. I have precious little to enjoy about Star Wars at this stage. At least give me that!