Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review - Blood Lake (1987)

Blood Lake (1987)
Review By Tony Masiello

A group of six friends head out to a country lake house for some rest, relaxation, partying and water skiing. Little do they know that in a nearby shed a killer is lurking and stalking them one by one.

There isn't much of a plot to Blood Lake, it follows the typical 80's slasher formula: Group of isolated teens go out for a party weekend and are dispatched by a vengeful killer, standard stuff. So why I am I even bothering to write a review for this Oklahoma lensed SOV slasher, it's because someone needs to set the record straight about this movie.

Blood Lake has grown to be considered one of the worst horror films of the 80's which I think is a bit unfair. Instead of a standard review format I am going to break down in eight points why I think Blood Lake is not only a good movie but one people should give a second chance too (maybe I'm crazy).

1. It's entertaining. Blood Lake even with all it's padding to reach a feature length run time is entertaining throughout. It follows a typical 80's slasher plot (if the formula works why deviate from it) which I think helps as there was something special about those 80's slasher movies. Sense the 90's and the release of Scream (which really is a bad movie in my opinion) everyone seems to laugh at the conventions of the genre, personally I love them. Sure it's predictable but is that much different than your standard superhero movie coming out today. Every genre has it's tropes and an astute movie viewer can pretty much easily guess the twists and turns in most films based on previous entries into that genre. I will get into why I find Blood Lake so entertaining as we continue but my main point is a bad movie is a movie that is boring, which Blood Lake is not. You want a boring bad SOV check out Death Nurse.

2. Little Tony. If you've seen the movie than there is no doubt that Little Tony is the standout character of Blood Lake. Played by Travis Krasser, Little Tony is one of the most memorable characters in the 80's slasher genre hands down. Played by a real teenager, (something that didn't happen often in the genre) Little Tony is a foul mouthed kid who has one thing on his mind, "I got my beer, I got my sex partner, what else do I need". He constantly puts down the older kids and makes sexual advances towards his female love interest. Today Little Tony would probably be considered a creep (post Me To movement) but I think he is hysterical and steals many of the scenes he's in. One day I really hope I can track down Travis Krasser and thank him for his contribution to Blood Lake.

3. The kids seems like real kids. Most of the cast of Blood Lake are the right age for this type of movie (unlike the 30 year olds in Scream). One thing you notice when watching the movie is that the cast seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves. They have good chemistry and as you can see in some scenes there is some good improvisation going on. I think the main reason people criticize the cast is their Oklahoma accents and their lack of formal acting talent. To me Angela Darter who plays the lead girl Becky is pretty damn good as our heroine and this was her first and only acting role. Obviously the cast tried to do their best and sure there are times the acting comes of wooden but overall I think they do a good job.

4. The Water Skiing. Ok I know how can I defend this padding scene? One word, Voyager! Damn I love that “Feeling Free” song, I find myself singing it constantly. Every great 80's movie has a montage with a big rock track and Blood Lake is no different. Sure it's a silly scene but you can't help but smile when you hear those lyrics and see the enthusiasm (and scared-ness) of the actors as they ski along the lake.

5. The music. The haunting keyboard score is creepy and really builds a great atmosphere in the movie. Why has no one reissued this horror soundtrack on vinyl? God knows there are enough shitty regional horror films that have seen their soundtracks released in recent years, I want to advocate for the release of the Blood Lake soundtrack!

6. Tim Boggs. This one may be harder for some people to see but as someone who has interviewed Tim at length about the making of Blood Lake, Tim is the unrecognized hero of the movie. Tim was approached by Doug Barry (Actor, Producer) to help make Blood Lake due to him working at a camera equipment store. Barry who had a little acting experience (an no producing experience) could not have pulled off this movie without Tim Boggs. Tim gets some beautiful shots (my favorite being the sunrise over the lake) in the movie and worked hard trying to get the best out of his amateur cast. He was determined to make the best movie possible even with the limitations imposed on him.  He has sense gone on to become a very successful sound editor in Hollywood working on many big films and television shows. When I interviewed Tim it was like getting the best motivational speech ever. He worked hard to achieve his dreams and has accomplished many of them. To quote him "I've always wanted to ask one thing of the critics what have you done with your dreams?"

7. The act of God. This one throws many people off but at the end of the film we see the killer standing over what used to be the lake but is now just a dried lake bed. After an earthquake the lake had dried up and hearing of this Doug and Tim traveled back to the location to get the final shot of the movie. Is it confusing? Sure, but it also gives the movie a surreal ending that makes it stick out from other 80's slashers. Not to mention it follows one of the best rules of filmmaking, take advantage of what you have. These guys had the brains to go "hey this is kinda cool and would make an interesting ending to our movie", and it does.

8. It's entertaining. OK I know I already did this one but I wanted to circle back for my final point about why Blood Lake is a good movie and deserves re-evaluation. The few good reviews for this movie tend to focus on one thing, it's so bad it's good. This is a term I really hate because if it's so bad it's good doesn't that mean it's good? To me watching a bad movie is like watching paint dry and Blood Lake is far from that. Weather the film is entertaining for the wrong reasons or not if you enjoy the movie isn't that all that matters? Sure Blood Lake has it's faults I'm not blind to that but to me and other young horror fans / aspiring filmmakers Blood Lake showed us if you got a camera, some drive and a lot of heart you too can make your own movie and get it out there. Regardless of what people say I give the cast and crew a ton of credit for making Blood Lake and getting it out there. I also want to thank them all for helping inspire me and many others to pick up a camera and make our own movies.

Overall maybe I'm crazy but I love Blood Lake and I hope after reading this review some more people check it out (with an open mind) and ones who previously mocked it give it a second chance. This small group of kids from Oklahoma went out and followed their dream and in doing so inspired others to do so as well, not to mention they made a pretty entertaining flick.

Long live Blood Lake!