1 star1   
"Where acting can be fatal."

directed by: James Shyman
starring: Bobby Johnston, Francine Lapensée, Joe Balogh, Martie Allyne, Al Valletta, Lynne Pirtle, Ken Denny, Kent Abrams, Allen Francis, Donna Lynn, George Spellman

choice dialogue:

"I'm going to bed where it's safe!"

- Another bright idea.

slash with panache?

[review by JA Kerswell]

HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD is a lesson in irony. As with many later 80s slasher movies it's difficult to know how in-on-the-joke the cast and crew were, but you have to wonder at a film where wooden would-be thespians play at being actors. In this case literally.

  The loss of talent to Tinseltown cannot be underestimated in HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD.

Being the late 80s, a bunch of twenty somethings in bleached denim and matching bleached hair gather at a remote acting retreat in the woods to learn their art. Presumably most of them are still there. The instructor tells them that part of being an actor is giving the audience not what they expect (a nod back to irony given that the film is so by-the-numbers). The cast comply by trying not to give a performance. The closest this bunch get to Shakespeare is when one takes a leak in the woods: "To pee or not to pee? That is the question!" he booms to unimpressed chipmunks.

Again, as this is a later 80s slasher flick it quickly becomes apparent that this woodland idyl has a sinister past. Square-jawed Brett tells the group that he grew up in the area. Back in the day it was a regular haunt for movie makers, but 16 years ago a movie crew rigged up the wrong house for a climactic explosion (presumably without rousing the suspicions of the people inside it). The big bang killed The Clouster Family inside. Ever since, no thespian has stepped onto the grounds - until now ...

It should come as a surprise to only someone who has never seen a slasher movie, that there were survivors and now they are pissed to hear vocal scales and watch people trying to emote amongst the shrubbery.

It seems that for the past 16 years the three surviving Clouster brothers have been shuffling around the woods waiting for this day and growing older. We know that they survived an explosion as they still haven't washed the black soot off their faces. So, at this point you'd be forgiven for thinking: let the games begin! But herein lies the problem. The trio look like they are auditioning for a part in COCOON or Jess Franco's OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES. Imagine the fear of being chased by a geriatric fitness class shaking their fists and rattling their walkers? They make Michael Myers look like Mo Farah. Of course, given that they move at the rate of sedated molluscs doesn't stop them catching a cast with even slower wits.

  I think we can safely say that we are not watching Hamlet.

With IQs in single digits, as part of the class the trainee soap stars are sent off into the forest to find something to bring back to tell a story about. One girl searches high and low and comes back with a pine cone. Another seems pleased with his find of a wild animal's skull, but less so when it's pointed out to him that it's actually clearly a human skull! Given the bizarre rainforest noises used to illustrate the Californian woodland setting (!), you would have thought they could have come back with a monkey or a couple of toucans.

We should make no mistake, this is no Crystal Lake. The gore fx extends to little more than a few splashes of blood here and there as the doddering geriatric psychos finally zone in on their prey. It starts with one would-be starlet excusing herself from the fun and games: "Hollywood can't survive without me!" she cooes. She is offed in her car. We see two teaspoons of blood trickle slowly betwixt her breasts. More a shaving nick than a gaping wound. I don't think Hollywood noticed.

HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD does distinguish itself late in the game with one inventive kill. Part of the joy of 80s slashers is the sidewinders that get thrown at you from presumably out of nowhere. [spoiler] During a frenzied climax (well, frenzied compared to the past 60 minutes) one of  the survivors defends themselves by smashing the aforementioned skull into the face of one of the killers. It embeds itself in his flesh and the action fades as he continues screaming. It was the skull of his mother, scattered by the explosion. Of course, we're not talking SOPHIE'S CHOICE here, but it is an unexpected shot of pathos and genuine irony. The remaining thesps watch frozen in fear (either that or their perms have locked). [end spoiler]

The film ends with the coda that they presumed the brothers were dead once, so who could guarantee they wouldn't rise again to claim their free retired psycho bus passes? So far it hasn't happened.

  HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD's death by skull at least adds a little weird pathos to the film.

Despite clocking in at a mere 77 minutes, HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD's last ten minutes are a recap of the past 70 (as if we haven't suffered enough!) complete with some aural atrocity. Needless to say, this hints at production problems. This was director James Shyman's debut effort, he progressed onto SLASHDANCE the next year.

Unsurprisingly, HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD didn't make the front page of Variety. It crept out onto video in the late 80s in the United States and has stayed in relative obscurity ever since.

However, some mysteries persist. Although the final credits show the names of the cast it doesn't list who they played. Given that for many of them it was their only credit (shocking I know!) it can make it difficult to attribute blame. IMDB lists the Donna Lynn who appeared here as the 1959 Playmate who was born in 1936. Unless she played one of the trees it seems that this is erroneous. Francine Lapensee also appeared in the obscure HANGING HEART (1983) (so obscure that this US lensed slasher was never released in its mother country). Joe Balogh turned up in the much more entertaining MOONSTALKER in 1989.

HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD is probably not worthy of your time. However, I'm impressed that they used the apostrophe correctly in the title. For that alone we should be thankful.


BODYCOUNT 8   bodycount!   female:2 / male:6

       1) Female's throat cut (offscreen)
       2) Male stabbed to death
       3) Female killed with shears (offscreen)
       4) Male stabbed to death in bed
       5) Male tied up and stabbed to death
       6) Male stabbed to death
       7) Male stabbed in the eye
       8) Male killed with human skull