‘Just when it’s safe to go back in the water …you can’t get across the beach!’
Blood Beach is a 1980 American horror film written and directed by Jeffrey Bloom (Flowers in the Attic; scripter of Nightmares 1983, segment “Night of the Rat”).
The movie stars David Hoffman, Mariana Hill, John Saxon and Burt Young. Co-produced by Hong Kong-based Sir Run Run Shaw (Inseminoid).
The film’s jazzy score was composed by Gil Melle (The Intruder Within; The Sentinel; Embryo; The Night Stalker).
The premise, conceived by co-producer Steven Nalevansky, involves a creature lurking beneath Santa Monica beach that attacks locals and vacationers. In the US, the film was released by The Jerry Gross Organisation (Fulci’s Zombie; I Spit on Your Grave; The Boogey Man).
Blood Beach takes place on California’s Venice Beach – which also happens to be a hunting ground for a mutated worm thing that lives underground. Basically, whenever anyone takes a stroll on the beach, they get sucked down into the sand and, for the most part, they’re never seen again. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, as in the case of a wannabe rapist who ends up getting castrated while being pulled down into the sand. However, far too often, the victims are innocent people who were just walking their dog, chasing after their hat, or searching for buried treasure.
The beach becomes so well-known for being a death trap that the locals start to call it Blood Beach but, for some reason, that doesn’t seem to stop people from wandering out on the sand at inopportune times. It would just seem logical that if there’s a monster killing people on the beach then maybe it would be a good idea to avoid the beach for a while? Believe it or not, you do have the option of not going to a monster-infested location.
Strangely, there’s one person who is always on the beach but never gets killed. That’s Mrs Selden (Eleanor Zee), a somewhat odd woman who always seems to be nearby whenever someone is getting dragged into the sand but who never gets attacked herself. Interestingly, Mrs Selden never seems to be particularly concerned by all the carnage around her. (One victim is even killed while specifically checking to make sure Mrs Selden is okay.) There is an expectation of some sort of major twist where it was revealed that Mrs Selden was a witch or something but this never happens.
Now, you would think that the presence of an underground monster would be the perfect excuse to call in the national guard but instead, the local police (led by John Saxon’s Captain Pearson) handle it. Sgt. Royko (Burt Young) heads up the monster investigation, which in this film means that he kinda stumbles from scene to scene, never looking particularly impressed by or interesting in anything that’s happening around him.
If anything, Royko seems to be annoyed that he’s having to give up time that he could be using to drink beer and watch TV and that attitude makes Royke the hero of this film. Forget the scientist who wants to understand where the monster came from. Forget the harbour cop who wants to rekindle things with an old flame. Royko doesn’t care about science or love. He just wants to blow stuff up, which makes him the perfect audience surrogate.
Anyway, Blood Beach sounds like it should be a fun movie but it’s not. The movie delivers a lot of beaches yet very little blood.
Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
“This low budget horror effort is a unique take on Jaws but fails because of a terribly weak creature that is revealed during the final moments. A bit of gore, an intriguing premise, a couple quirky performances and even a brief, bluesy duet rendition of Guy Clark’s ‘Fools For Each Other’ make this a mild time waster for undiscriminating horror fans.” Cool @ss Cinema
“Unfortunately, whenever we leave the beach (i.e. the majority of the 92-minute running time) to focus on the dull-as-dishwater romance of headliners David Huffman and Marianna Hill, the show stops dead in the water, with nothing but sergeant Burt Young’s mannered and decidedly un-PC rantings to carry the day.” Horror 101
” …all this may have been tolerable if the monster was any damned good. Unfortunately, you have to wait until the last five minutes of the movie to see the goddamned thing and it looks like a f*cking flower or some shit. Talk about a total gyp. The scariest thing about Blood Beach is when the hero and his girlfriend go to a bar and sing on stage.” The Video Vacuum
“The film is more comfortable with kitschy beach scenes, slightly overexposed and in soft focus so that the light takes on an almost tangible quality. Those have nothing to do with the alleged story, but they’re pretty to watch.” Mike Mayo, Videohound’s Horror Show
“As a monster movie its pretty bad, easily predictable, padded with useless conversations, virtually bereft of interesting characters. But thanks to a moody score featuring horns and strings mixed with synthesizers, and thanks to the enjoyment inherent in watching people at beaches – in the wind, by the waves – I came away pleased by the atmosphere. I can’t recommend it but I can’t hate it.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
” …it worked great for Tremors but the people in charge here aren’t the people from Tremors so instead we have way, way too much time wasted on following the police around. This movie might as well have just been a police drama with the perp being a giant antlion mixed with an evil, mutated sunflower.” Happyotter
“Everything from the script and performances to the sound recording is just terrible. Badly paced, Blood Beach feels stretched out even at ninety-two minutes, and most disappointingly there’s not a whit of suspense.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s
“…the work of an attractive and professional cast, a rarity in the genre, is undermined by plodding direction and a talky and incoherent script that is short on action, suspense and even the gore that the title promises.” The New York Times, January 24, 1981
“It’s not nearly as camp or as sleazy as some horror fans might want, but the film isn’t without interest and humor. Somehow it works.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics
Cast and characters:
- David Huffman as Harry Caulder
- Marianna Hill as Catherine Hutton – Schizoid; The Baby; Messiah of Evil; Black Zoo
- John Saxon as Captain Pearson – A Nightmare on Elm Street; Cannibal Apocalypse; The Night Caller; et al
- Burt Young as Sergeant Royko – Amityville II: The Possession; Carnival of Blood
- Otis Young as Lieutenant Piantadosi
- Stefan Gierasch as Doctor Dimitrios
- Lena Pousette as Marie
- Darrell Fetty as Hoagy
- Eleanor Zee as Mrs Selden
- Pamela McMyler as Mrs Hench
- Harriet Medin as Ruth Hutton
- Mickey Fox as Moose
- Laura Burkett as Girl in Sand
- Marleta Giles as Girlfriend
- Jacqueline Randall as Second Girl
Santa Monica and Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California
The Sand (2015)
Ten Jaws clones: