BLEEDERS aka HEMOGLOBIN (1997) Reviews and overview

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‘It’s in the blood’

Bleeders is a 1997 Canadian-American horror film about man with an unknown disease travels to an island where his relatives once lived, hoping to find a cure to his illness.

Directed by Peter Svatek (Sci-FightersBig Wolf on Campus TV series; Witchboard III: The Possession) from a screenplay co-written by Charles Adair, Dan O’Bannon, and Ronald Shusett (Dead & Buried; Alien). Also known as Hemoglobin and The Descendant.

The film is an uncredited adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft‘s short story ‘The Lurking Fear’


On a remote island, young couple John (Roy Dupuis) and Kathleen (Kristin Lehman) Strauss are attempting to uncover the secret to John’s rare blood disease. They encounter Dr Marlowe (Rutger Hauer), who is intrigued by the case.

The couple is unaware that the island which they are about to set foot upon is home to the Van Dam family, mutant-like creatures who have become deformed and bloodthirsty from centuries of inbreeding. Their mutation began with their relative Eva Van Dam, who had a twincest relationship. Also, they are fully functioning hermaphrodites, capable of reproducing with themselves. They need to survive on (dead or alive) human flesh.

John discovers that he is a Van Dam, born normal looking and taking part in normal society, but his rare blood disease can only be suppressed by consuming human flesh and by copulating with his siblings…

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“Laughably inept even by low-budget horror standards, Hemoglobin nevertheless demonstrates that salacious gothic clichés and grotesquely novel special effects can provide some marginal entertainment value even when they’re executed remarkably poorly.” AllMovie

” …Bleeders still has some pretty decently executed shocks of its own as residents are suddenly sucked into underground tunnels, or viciously mauled by the monsters, in brief, tightly edited flashes of violence. The creatures, prominently featured in the cover art, are appropriately grotesque. Designed by Adrien Morot and Andre Laforest, these C.H.U.D. wannabes are lumpy, pink hermaphroditic blobs with multiple stomachs, numerous nostrils and eyes.” Canuxploitation!

“This is a truly underrated creature feature despite the flat direction […] A great story concept done a grave injustice by the uninspired direction and mediocre acting talents that is saved in part by the presence of Rutger Hauer and great creature effects.” McBastard’s Mausoleum

Rutger Hauer is good for what little time he is on screen, and there are a couple of other hammy performances that lighten up the experience of watching the flick. However, the story is pretty damn slow, and pretty much everything that shows up on screen is visually bland. There are definitely the makings of a decent movie with the source material, but this isn’t it.” Misan[trope]y

“Unfortunately, the film falls down due to dreary direction. The photography is drab, while director Peter Svatek’s pace drags – almost nothing happens in the first half-hour, for instance. One can see that a number of sequences have been designed on paper in a way that could have had some shock impact had they been directed by someone with half an ounce of talent…” Moria

“While the movie has its share of effective sequences (particularly the attack on Alice), it doesn’t sustain sufficient tension overall. Perhaps it’s because the stunted monsters, while intriguingly designed by Adrien Morot, don’t elicit a true sense of menace, or because the story development is rather cut-and-dried. Whatever the case, Bleeders is a nice try (and a well-acted one) that doesn’t quite live up to its promise.” TV Guide

“Ridiculous and crappy low-budget monster movie is loaded with muddy scripting and almost wooden acting with DuPuis faring the worst looking pale and sickly and at one point cramming a sandwich fully in his yap. This tries for eccentric characters and suspenseful moments but it’s all for naught because the monsters are rubbery and unconvincing, we’re given no real background story and there’s some badly staged attacks in the lighthouse finale.” The Video Graveyard

Choice dialogue:

Byrde Gordon: “Wow. Looks like I’m making some guests for the hotel …and with any luck, a burial plot too.”

Byrde Gordon: “For Christ’s sake, Alice quit yacking at the stiffs! It’s nuts.”

Cast and characters:

Gillian Ferrabee … Eva Van Daam/Her Twin Brother/John’s Twin Sister
Pascal Gruselle … Vermeer
Roy Dupuis … John Strauss
Kristin Lehman … Kathleen Strauss
John Harold Cail … Ferryman
Joanna Noyes … Byrde Gordon
Felicia Shulman … Yolanda
Janine Theriault … Alice Gordon
Michelle Brunet … Ramona
David Deveau … Ben
Spencer Evans … Squeakie
Rutger Hauer … Doctor Marlowe – Corbin Nash; Dario Argento’s Dracula; The Rite; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; The Hitcher
Carmen Ferland … Mrs Shea [as Carmen Ferlan]
Leni Parker … Baby Laura
Lisa Bronwyn Moore … Toot [as Lisa Bronwyn-Moore]

Filming locations:

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada


The film premiered at the Fantastisk Film Festival Lund in Sweden on September 14, 1997, and was released directly to video the following year.

Some image credits: Canuxploitation!Misan[trope]y

Plot keywords:

autopsy | boat | children | coffin | deformity | doctor | embalming fluid | fishing village | flashlight | flesh-eaters | funeral parlour | graves | graveyard | gun | hide and go seek | island | lighthouse | mutations | mystery | rat | secret | skeleton | storm | underground tunnel


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