Monday, 16 April 2012

Blood Symbol (1992) Maurice Deveraux

Of all the obscure and ill starred slasher productions of the 1980's, Blood Symbol must be among the very most troubled that actually managed to get completed and released. With production beginning in 1984 and ending in 1991, with the gap down to lack of funds and possibly other issues, it is understandably pretty messy. But with plenty of directorial flourish and a couple of rather inspired scenes it manages to be rather fun and more memorable than various of its more polished contemporaries. The plot has student athlete Tracy menaced in dreams and visions by a creepy looking killer cult leader, appealing then to supernatural slasher tropes as established by the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise as well as devil cult superstition, and though the structure is significantly flawed, with dodgy pacing and a weak switchback final act coming after a rather fun peak around the hour mark, on the whole the film comes through as a pretty engaging, unexpectedly psychotronic and occasionally mean spirited piece. The visuals are key, employing red and blue lighting as well as nicely placed black and white nightmare sequences, a couple of strobes, some cunning camera angling and movement (though migraine sufferers should be advised there is a fair amount of handheld work)and bursts of editing frenzy in the early 90's music video style, while the extended stalking sequences feel a bit too much like an imitation of Carpenter the direction and editing are actually pretty interesting when they go for the insane sledgehammer effect. However they don't entirely cover the fact that the body count is rather low and only one of the deaths is really satisfying, so one could be forgiven for disappointment, perhaps a feeling of plenty of sizzle but little steak, or even too much sizzle as well as too little steak. Personally I like films of this level to have as much sizzle as possible even if there isn't much steak, countless slashers at almost every level have handled the meat and potatoes of the slasher format well, but somewhat fewer of the really cheap ones actually muster the delectable weird vibes that get my mouth watering even without all that much good for the eating. I'm not terribly bothered about films not being nourishing, to be honest I watch stuff like this for self flagellation as much as anything. Oh, and speaking of weird vibes, fans of bad continuity will have a blast here as the production woes resulted in some actors, most noticeably the leading lady, changing in appearance between scenes, their age somewhat showing. Also, the acting is witheringly dreadful, though to be fair the original voices were dubbed over because they apparently sounded too French-Canadian. I would have preferred the original even if it was difficult to understand, French-Canadian accents get me all tingly inside and I found the leading lady (Micheline Richard) somewhat comely in a frizzy haired goof kinda way. The other victim girls were pretty cute as well, though shamefully no one gets at all naked, or even wears revealing/amusing clothing. So I guess there you have it, no tits, a bit of blood, some weirdness and meanness. Pretty much only a film for those out there that "have" to see it, but it worked well enough for yours truly

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