Monday, December 19, 2011

Honourable Mention: Lady Blood

Once upon a time, in 1990 in fact, there was a film called Baby Blood and it was a French, gore-fest black comedy that played with the concept of the evil within. I rather enjoyed it, but did caveat my review with the fact that it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Cut forward 18 years and a sequel is produced, directed by Jean-Marc Vincent. The film made it onto the first Bram Stoker Film Festival short list but was pulled from the festival by the time we arrived, by the organisers I understand. The film has received German and French DVD releases but nothing in the English language market. However, thanks to the power of fan-subs I have now been able to watch the film.

Emmanuelle Escourrou as Yanka
Positively it does have Emmanuelle Escourrou reprising her role as Yanka – transformed now from the ‘abused circus worker come murderess, pregnant with the baby from Hell’ into ‘mother and super-cop’. That said, this is an honourable mention, as I doubt you’d find much more than a flimsy vampiric aspect (a ‘cannibal killer’ is being hunted by the police) unless you had seen the first film. Indeed, I very much doubt a casual viewer would get what was going on if they were unaware of the first film. The film is also played as straight horror, this loses all the nuances that the black comedy aspect offered the first film.

Bénédicte Mathieu as Christine
The film begins with newspaper clippings regarding the events of the first film, and these will not serve to clarify Yanka’s connection to the creature, for the casual viewer, nor does it help those who know the first film as new characters are thrown into the fray including a woman, arrested it seems for the murders Yanka committed. The woman is named Christine Pollack (Bénédicte Mathieu) and she seems to have a psychic connection to the creature (why we don’t know) and her point in the film was actually fairly lost on me. She does say something that nearly hit the vampire bell, as it were. The fan-subs translate her words as describing the creature as “the thing that comes from the blood” – which made little sense, could it have been “for the blood” – I’m afraid my French is very limited so I can’t say.

the first host
The creature (or squid like baby) at the end of the first film escaped into the sea and it is from there it emerged, attacking a fisherman and then entering and possessing a swimmer. Where has it been for the intervening years and how did it survive? We don’t know and yet the creature offered a voice-over at the beginning of the first film and spoke to Yanka through the film. In this we are lost. The creature first attacks its host’s girlfriend, beating her and devouring her face. In the first film it was clear that it was blood the foetal creature needed, in this it seems to be flesh.

host looking unwell
The creature can pass from person to person (and we see a tentacle appear from the hosts mouth, passing to the new host). At first its hosts seem a bit zombified, certainly one of them has hanging skin that it staples to pass as human and the walking function is jerky. However there is the controlling intelligence behind them. Eventually the main tell is the consistent sunglasses, worn to hide the white eyes. There was no real sense of paranoia built around who could be the host and, indeed, Yanka had nose bleeds when in the creature’s vicinity but this early warning system wasn’t really worked on. When it vacated a body the flesh seemed to melt from the last host – this is not explored.

A sub-plot about gangsters seemed ill-founded and tagged on unfortunately, most of the other cops were just cypher characters. There was some attempt to expand on her new partner but both Yanka and he were little more than cardboard cut-outs of characters, Yanka a little more rounded because I had seen the first film. There were also some bizarre continuity/suspension of belief moments. The creature’s host having a blood stained mouth seemed not to raise a comment in a club he went to and the blood seemed to mysteriously appear on and vanish from his face between angle changes.

white eyes
This was, all told, an unworthy sequel to the original, it lost everything that made the first film memorable and became an average creature feature with a twist in the ending so clichéd that you just sat waiting for it to happen. If I were to do a cold ‘Vamp or Not?’ on this it would come out not, and the fact that it changed so much else within the film’s premise, story and genre meant that I didn’t want to review it as a vampire film. That said, if you know the first film then this possesses a genre interest, hence the honourable mention.

The imdb page is here.

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