Thursday, July 07, 2011

Blood Relations – review

Director: Wim Linder

Release date: 1977

Contains spoilers

I do like watching the odder end of the vampire movie and this was certainly that. It was also, unfortunately, a dubbed version. On the surface it was a light comedy but it was perhaps, even more, a sideward glance at intolerance born of religion and blind faith.

It starts with Claude (Wim Kouwenhoven) and his wife Lydia (Simone Ettekoven). They run the railway station in a small town. The scheduled train goes by and then another train stops unexpectedly – trains never stop in the town. It has stopped to let a passenger, Maria (Sophie Deschamps) disembark. She asks where the hospital is – she is due to start work as a nurse – and Claude offers her a lift.

at the crash
On the way to the hospital they see a police car whizz by. Maria suggests there may have been an accident and that they might help and so Claude follows. A car has overturned and one of the policemen, Peter (Ralph Arliss) is leaning into the overturned car. The driver is pulled out and rushed to hospital. Peter tells Maria that she can’t help and licks the blood from his fingers.

Claude gets her to the hospital. Inside two doctors fight to save the man’s life but, as one says, he is lacking blood. Mention is made of it being the 22nd accident in 6 weeks. Maria reveals herself to be quite innocent, she grew up in a convent and would rather go to confession than go on dates. Indeed she dislikes the attention she receives from the doctors.

checking the blood type
The doctor in charge of the blood bank is Dr Steiger (Maxim Hamel), Peter’s father. We see that he sometimes appropriates blood from the blood bank and can tell blood types by taste. When looking for a rare blood type for a patient, Maria takes Peter’s blood and is told by the technician that it is a type he has not seen before – he likens an aspect of it to vampire bats’ blood.

I Spy Vampires
As it is she gets herself locked in the blood bank on a Saturday and then sees a gathering of the town’s vampires. There is Steiger and his son and Claude and Lydia, as well as their baby son Louis, amongst others. Maria is disgusted by what she sees and takes the truth to confession – but the priest clearly doesn’t believe her. She spies on the Steiger’s and then comes up with a plan. She has Steiger catch her trying to steal blood, she makes him think she is a vampire too and, when he tests her blood to see if it is the vampire type, she swaps samples.

tension between son and father
Having convinced him that she is a vampire she is introduced to the vampire chapter. It is, Steiger believes, the last surviving chapter and the appearance of a young, healthy female vampire offers the possibility of breeding – something that causes division between father and son as they both fancy their chances. Of course Maria has to drink blood in order that she might fit in. We also discover that most of the vampires do not drink fresh blood – except Peter with his accident victims.

Steiger's accident
There is an aside section with Maria travelling to attend a course, having accidentally knocked Steiger down a stairwell. Though he doesn’t die he does end up in traction fr some time and the portion of the film shows the desperate state the others end up in when he isn’t there to get them bottled blood.

the film in film
Following this we see them all watching a vampire film where a vampire is tortured by having holy water brushed on him. The vampires clearly see it is ridiculous but Maria believes that holy water is a way to harm them and sets about plotting their destruction. This underlines the intolerance that religion leads people to. The vampires (bar Peter) do not harm others and the only difference between them and us is the blood drinking. Maria sees them as evil, despite the fact that they befriend her, and believes God wishes her to destroy them. She admits that she will hate herself for hurting them but it has to be done.

Lore wise there is very little. They drink blood, have a different blood type and would seem to be more resilient than a human (if the fact that Steiger survived his fall is anything to go by). That’s about it. We do see fangs – but only in the movie within the movie.

As the version I saw was dubbed it is hard to comment on the acting but the film is quirky and unusual and deserves 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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