Could this be the strangest slasher flick ever produced? Lensed in 1982, BLOOD BEAT is a metaphysical subgenre romp made by French film makers in Wisconsin, which boasts Christmas being ruined by psychic battles, enthusiastic masturbation and a glowing 7ft Samurai cutting up locals with a ceremonial sword. Yep, they sure don't make 'em like this any more!
Ted (James Fitzgibbons), his girlfriend Sarah (Claudia Peyton) and his sister Dolly (Dana Day) return back to the homestead to celebrate the holidays. Only their artist Mom Cathy (Helen Benton) can't shake off the feeling that she knows Sarah from somewhere even though they've never met before. To take their minds off this disconcerting fact, Cathy's boyfriend Gary (Terry Brown) takes them hunting (nothing like celebrating the birth of little baby Jesus by stalking and blasting the hell out of Bambi, eh?). However, Sarah freaks out; the deer gets away, but a man none of them knows is found nearby dying of a gaping hole in his stomach.
Ted becomes concerned as Sarah becomes uncharacteristically cold to his advances, and doesn't seem to be feeling herself. Concerned that Cathy doesn't like her, Sarah becomes increasingly withdrawn and eventually takes herself to bed. She finds a Samurai mask and ceremonial sword next to her bed, but its gone when she tries to show Ted.
Meanwhile, townsfolk are beginning to feel the sharp end of the same sword as a heavy breathing Samurai cuts an unlikely figure in the frozen Wisconsin countryside. All hell breaks loose when Sarah does start feeling herself by indulging in a spot of frenetic gusset typing, and her orgasmic moans appear to drive the killer to even greater butchery. Can Ted (and the audience) work out what's going on before Sarah's fingers travel south once more and additional festive merry makers end up as bloody sushi?
BLOOD BEAT has a surfeit of ideas, and goes so beyond muddled and just plain out there sometimes that you start to wonder if you're watching a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie directed by Jean-Paul Sartre. Admittedly, it's an interesting concept, to have two people with previously benign psychic abilities meet and this meeting cause a catastrophic chain reaction, but it eventually collapses under the weight of its own absurdity. Then there's the hunters becoming the hunted. However, the use of pent up sexual energy being a catalyst for evil is perhaps the most diverting idea of all (and something that was later explored in another French slasher movie, HAUTE TENSION (2003)). Quite why there's a supernatural Samurai in rural Wisconsin, though, is anyone's guess.
The performances veer from the adequate to amateur dramatics, which only adds to the strangeness. Around the middle section, the film briefly settles into a familiar slasher movie groove, with the killer (albeit a 7ft glowing Japanese warlord!) invading a couple's home and making mincemeat out of a group of drunks around a camp fire. On top of this are scant but effective splashes of gore. However, by its closing third it is clear that the director wants to out-weird Ulli Lommel's supernatural slasher, THE BOOGEYMAN (1980).
BLOOD BEAT is nothing if not ambitious, and and you have to take your hat off to the film makers for having the sheer nerve to attempt what they do on an obviously paltry budget. The budgetary limitations are only too clear during the psychic showdown, with painted on neon glows the only substitute for any real special effects (think Ken Russell's ALTERED STATES done with pocket change), and the cast having tins of Nesquik thrown at them. To add to the strange, culturally schizophrenic brew, the film employs a mind-bogglingly diverse range of music, from what sounds like a rubber band being twanged, to chanting monks and a climax soundtracked by no less that Carmina Burana. Talking of climaxes, it probably wasn't a great idea to have your villain finally talk and sound like Steven Hawkings!
All said and done, this is quite possibly the oddest festive slasher there is – perhaps the most bizarre slasher movie of them all. For that alone it might be worth checking out for the curious and those with a taste for the weird.
However, I suspect the story of why a French director made BLOOD BEAT in rural USA might be an even more interesting story, should it ever come to light.
BODYCOUNT 9 female:2 / male:71) Male found with stomach wound