2 stars

directed by: Frank Mitchell
starring: Jonathan Lippe, Warren Farlow, John Hart, Douglas Hume, Pete Kellett, Midori, Mara Modair, Jim Patton, Laurie Rose, Fred Stromsoe, Gene Tyburn

choice dialogue:

"Some great trip this is going to be, with that fruitcake aboard!"

- Jill's not a happy bunny.

(back of video blurb):

"[Lots of spoilers!] ... The luxury yacht carries a doomed human cargo consisting of a wealthy DOCTOR; his passionate, money-grabbing STEPDAUGHTER; the Doctor's young and beautiful GIRLFRIEND; and AMY, an attractive Oriental drug-addict. They set sail with the CAPTAIN and the two crewman, MASON and another SEAMAN. The first night the Captain's horribly mutilated body is thrown overboard and the ship-to-shore radio smashed. Amy, now desperate, is given a fix by Mason. When the Seaman is also murdered, Amy is suspected of being the dope-crazed killer. But Mason is a Vietnam 'vet' with a tortured brain. When the Doctor discovers he had given Amy and deduces he is the real killer, Mason shoots him. The Stepdaughter's bloody corpse is found in a cabin closet, while the terrified Girlfriend is brutally strangled by Mason. He then gives Amy another fix, repairs the radio and informs the Coast Guard that she had berserk and killed everyone on the ship of death.

Amy is locked in an asylum, while Mason looks forward to his next BLOOD VOYAGE ..."

slash with panache?

[review by Justin Kerswell]

Hello sailor! Murder and mayhem on the high seas in this sporadically entertaining - if sometimes painfully slow - proto-slasher from 1976.

Who could fail to be tempted by such trashily high octane taglines as, "THE MOST GRUESOME VOYAGE IN MARITIME HISTORY", and "TRAPPED WITH MANIAC ON A SEA OF DEATH!", plus, "ONE IS A KILLER ... THE REST ARE GOING TO DIE!"? The artwork on the old pre-cert is also a wow, showing every murder! It's a shame that this would-be grindhouse classic doesn't quite live up to it's promise, although there's a modicum of campy and sleazy fun to be had along the way.

Along for this BLOOD VOYAGE are a gaggle of manipulative characters all decked out in the grooviest 70s polyester threads. Leading them is Jules (John Hart), an elderly and silver-haired psychiatrist, who is planning to elope with his young girlfriend Jill (Laurie Rose), on a leisurely cruise to Hawaii. Along for the trip is his blonde, buxom stepdaughter Carol (Mara Modair), who's been doing the dirty with the handy man Eddie (only Eddie is offed early on, before the yacht leaves the port, with a meat cleaver by an unseen assailant - in yet another tracking shot that shows the stalker POV didn't start with Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978)). Also onboard is Amy (Midori), an Oriental sexpot, with a penchant for drugs and prickteasing, who is a patient of Jules. There's also a sailor, Scotty (Gene Tyburn) and captain, Mack (Pete Kellett), as well as Andy (Jonathon Lippe), a Vietnam vet who turns up after Eddie's dissapearance and is persuaded to join in on the BLOOD VOYAGE ...

None of the passengers are particularly likeable, but it does mean we get some fun and bitchy dialogue - Jill moaning to Jules about having Amy aboard, "I don't know how you can stand listening to those nuts all day!". As the anchor comes up the bras come off (this is one film where every female character has at least one topless scene). There's lots of filler shots of the yacht meandering on its way across blue seas before the next boob shot and then onto talk of dinner and some scheming and back stabbing.

Not much actually happens until Andy falls asleep at the wheel and Mack finds that they have drifted miles off course. Someone doesn't take criticism well, as he's whacked in the face with a meat cleaver by an unseen assailant and then bundled overboard.

When the group find Mack is missing they presume he's fallen into the sea and, with a shrug of their shoulders, decide to go along their merry way. Amongst some mild panic, long bouts of languid sunbathing and sandwich making ensue.

Next Amy tries to seduce Scotty into procuring some drugs for her. "I need something harder ...", she purrs. But when he spurns her advances its clear she's found the drugs elsewhere. Scotty turns up with a dagger in his back, stumbling into Jill's bedroom. One of the characters sympathetically exclaims, "We've got little Miss Cuckoo running about!". Could the doped up Amy be responsible for the brutal murders, or is someone trying frame her?

BLOOD VOYAGE should have it all. What it does have is disco music (and some seriously warped "Ba-Ba-BAAA!" musak), as well as nudity and some bloody murders (although, given the film's title you would have expected a bit more of the red stuff). It also has Andy, the Vietnam vet who keeps getting twitchy and having aural flashbacks everytime Carol quizs him about all those Vietnamese he killed. Now, who could the killer be .... ?

Incredibly, BLOOD VOYAGE appeared in British cinemas in the mid-70s, but it plays like a particularly languid TV movie (complete with some painfully flat performances) - albeit one with added boobs and flashes of splatter violence. It's of mild interest as a proto-slasher, complete with touches that would become standard in the coming years, such as a character saying "What you doing here?" to someone offscreen, before being offed by an unseen assailant. It's topped off with a typically cynical 70s ending, which unfortunately falls kind of flat.

Ultimately, BLOOD VOYAGE is worth a go if you're particularly interested in the development of the subgenre, otherwise just bask in the trashy glory of the video box art. Arguably, you'll have a better time.


BODYCOUNT 6  bodycount!   female:2 / male:4

       1) Male killed with a meat cleaver (off screen)
       2) Male hacked in the head repeatedly with a meat cleaver
       3) Male found stabbed in the back with a dagger
       4) Female strangled with tights (off screen)
       5) Male shot repeatedly
       4) Female strangled