12/29/06

607 Bloodlust

(1961, Horror/Drama, b&w), with:

Uncle Jim’s Dairy Farm
(1960, Educational, b&w)

My pants have reached a crisis point.

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

Short: Pale city youngsters become strong and tan while in their farm uncle’s care.
Film: A murderous hunter stalks two young couples on his island resort.

Short Summary:

...is where I take my kids to look at cows.  Then we go home to enjoy such modern, manure-free conveniences as sleeping in, and not working on weekends.In Uncle Jim’s Dairy Farm, a pair of pasty weak city kids gets dropped off at their uncle’s farm for the summer. They play with their heartier country cousins, and soon learn to perform such dairy farm chores as climbing ropes, washing pigs, kissing chickens, and gobbling down butter by the pound. They sure seem happy to go home when the summer’s over.

Film Summary:

In Bloodlust, two young couples (predictably paired up by hair color) are at sea, engaged in such nautical pastimes as fishing and skeet shooting. In what passes for character development, we learn that the blond boy (Robert Reed of The Brady Bunch fame) is an expert marksman, the blond girl is a judo master, and both members of the brunette couple are useless nerds.

Their skipper celebrates himself into a drunken stupor, so the couples decide to take a lifeboat out to a nearby island to search for buried treasure. They find some clams and wander into the jungle in search of banana leaves to bake them in. The blond boy discovers a pit trap; a hunter and his assistants come along to pull him out.

The hunter takes them back to his mansion, where he offers them his vaguely threatening hospitality. The couples sneak out of their rooms and split up to go exploring. The blond couple is immediately stopped by the hunter’s frightened wife and her drunken friend, who tell them the awful truth about their host. The brunette couple wanders into a cave complex beneath the mansion and sees the hunter’s human quarries being skinned and stuffed for display.

The wife and the drunk offer to swim out to the boat and bring back help, so the young couples distract the guards while they head out into the jungle in bathing suits. Two days later, help has not come. The blond couple happens to be hiding behind some stuffed animals when the hunter’s hulking mute henchman wanders through a secret door. They wait until he leaves and then sneak though it.

They find the hunter in a vast cave. He turns on various display lights to show his stuffed human trophies, posed as they were at the moment of death. He lingers over the display of the drunk embracing his wife. He decides to hunt down the boys (along with their recently captured skipper) and take the girls for his new wives. Inexplicably, everyone agrees to this plan with only minimal grumbling. The hunter finds and kills the skipper while the boys narrowly escape from quicksand. Meanwhile, the girls escape the mansion by judo-throwing a stripe-shirted henchman into a vat of acid. The couples are reunited in the woods and make their way back to the mansion for weapons. They sneak past the guard (important!) to find rifles, but no bullets.

The hunter abandons his hulking mute henchman to the leech-infested quicksand and returns to the mansion. He finds the dead guard at the gate (also important!). He finds the partly armed couples huddled in his human trophy display area, and forces them to arrange themselves to his satisfaction on the spiked trophy rack. They tell him they didn’t kill the guard, and he suddenly becomes frightened. The brunette boy turns on the last display light, and the estranged hulking mute bursts from the shadows, taking several bullets before he impales his former master on the display rack. Even though he’s clearly already dead, the movie ends with a gurgling scream.

Introduction:

Crow did it.Tom is Crow’s psychotherapist. He tries to get Crow to talk about his childhood (he didn’t have one) his parents (he doesn’t have any) and the movie Cliffhanger (he never saw it). Crow reluctantly confides that he uses a Rebel Deep-Diving Lure for early spring.

Host Segment One:

Tom breaches his confidentiality agreement with Crow as soon as Mike walks in, and they deride him about his choice of fishing equipment. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester prepares for his mother’s visit. He gives them scripts to read to her. When she arrives she’d rather talk to Frank than her son. She and Frank gossip and compare swatches while Mike and the ‘Bots read their scripts.

Host Segment Two:

Crow sets up a vegetable stand on the desk while Mike wanders off to be Kenny G. He waits a while for someone to buy produce. After a minute, Tom’s car runs over him.

Host Segment Three:

A fiddle-playing Crow leads the rest of the Satellite crew in an old-fashioned square dance. He makes up folksy old rhymes, ending each verse with, “Promenade!” In the last verse he devolves into vaguely violent lyrics and gravelly-voiced shouting while Mike, Tom, and Gypsy begin to mosh. They mosh until they drop and then Crow staggers up to say, “Promenade!”

Host Segment Four:

Tom has organized a murder mystery party, with each person attending assigned a character. Crow starts things off by declaring, “I did it!” Everyone leaves, disgusted, while Crow spoils Citizen Kane and The Crying Game as well.

Host Segment Five:

Tom and Crow suddenly realize the obvious: Mike is a big game hunter, secretly stalking them on the satellite. They shriek and flee the room when he comes in to read some letters. He’s almost finished when they catch him in a large net. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester has prepared a large, elaborate meal for his mother. She goes out clubbing with Frank instead. Dr. Forrester seizes the apple out of the roast pig’s mouth, takes a bite, and throws it at the button.

Stinger:

The bare-chested skipper takes a crossbow bolt to the gut.

Thoughts:

...which, oddly enough, contains both blood and lust.Farms are the greatest! There certainly is no greater pleasure than getting up at four a.m. to milk the cows, feed the pigs, and collect the eggs!! Chasing down sheep in a muddy field to give them their shots makes my heart race with joy!!! Shoveling out a manure-filled barn is pure Elysium, unmatched by any other human experience!!!! There just aren’t enough exclamation points in the English language to convey my feelings about farm work—the sure cure for any pasty, pencil-necked, clean-fingernailed, overeducated city kid’s problems!!!!!

Unlike many of the other films in the MST3K canon, Bloodlust actually delivers on its title, in that it presents both blood and lust. Also unlike many other MST3K films, it mostly manages to hit its targets. I’ll grant you, it’s aiming low, but for a horror film from the early sixties it’s fairly competent. There are suitable moments of irony and villainy, clever escapes, treacherous henchmen, and so on, and so forth.

I have just one main complaint. They build up the whole expert marksman/judo master thing in the beginning, but it never pays off. I guess that’s not strictly true. At one point the blond boy tells the skipper, “I’m a better shot than you are,” and there’s a scene where the blond girl throws a henchman several times larger than herself into a vat of acid. But with the number of times the hunter has his back to them, you’d think the blond girl would disarm him and kick the weapon to her boyfriend. He’s already stated that he’s going to kill and/or rape them no matter what they do, so they’ve got nothing to lose, right? Well, nothing but the film’s running time.

The host segments are bookended by Dr. Forrester’s mother, Pearl. It’s funny enough to see her getting along so well with Frank while ignoring her son. It’s even more interesting when we realize this is a woman we’ll be seeing a lot more of in future episodes. Crow’s instant confession in the murder mystery party is good, and Tom’s psychoanalysis of Crow works well (“I didn’t see Cliffhanger.” “This seems painful for you.”). The vegetable stand sketch started off promising, with Mike inexplicably dressed like Kenny G, but then it devolved into another unsatisfying “Tom runs over Crow” gag. My favorite is the hard rock square dancing. Watching them dress in hillbilly outfits and mosh themselves almost into insensibility is funny to start with, but watching them get up again afterwards to “Promenade!” is just the right touch.

The film segments are not all that quotable, but they’re good enough make the episode fun to watch. When the title for the short appears, Crow says, “I thought I smelled something.” After both the skipper and the drunken friend have appeared, Tom notes, “There’s a two drunk minimum in this film.” When the drunken friend hungrily smooches the hunter’s wife, Crow says, “Your lips are like crisp, delicious bacon.” It’s not a bad film by itself, and it’s decently funny with the commentary.