Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baby Blood – review

dvdDirector: Alain Robak

Release date: 1990

Contains spoilers

Now, on hearing the title of the film you’d be forgiven for assuming that this film involves the drinking of baby blood – nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps the alternate title – the Evil Within – offers a better description, for this is a fear that the unborn baby is evil type film… ish, for this is a gross out, gorehound of a black comedy also.

However the film begins with volcanoes and lava, and we realise (due to a voiceover) that we are at the creation of the world. The voice over talks about how life began (round a swamp in central Africa) and propagated due to breeding but one creature did not have the ability to breed – the one that is speaking. Cut to modern Africa. Something is caught, crated and shipped off continent.

Emmanuelle Escourrou is YankaWe are at the Lohman circus and the big cats start to stir nervously as a truck pulls up. The driver (François Frapier) goes looking for Lohman (Christian Sinniger) but, when he looks through the trailer window he sees Lohman’s girlfriend Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou) in her underwear. Lohman is less than impressed with the man having an eyeful but he quickly explains that he has delivered an animal – it is the African crate and it contains a leopard. That evening, as the driver watches rehearsals, it is clear that the tigers are spooked. It is also clear that Yanka is abused by Lohman. The driver thinks there is a sexual connection but runs when she begs to be taken away – Lohman belts her for her trouble.

the parasiteShe is in bed and he is checking his cash box when something occurs outside. Lohman investigates and finds the big cat wrangler on his knees drenched in gore – the leopard has exploded. Lohman says it is the work of an animal not a man and starts a search (what for is questionable, how many animals would make a big cat explode?) As they look, Yanka sleeps. A tentacle like creature crawls into the caravan, under the covers and inside her.

The next day she has put a little weight on and can feel something ‘wrong’. A test confirms she is pregnant. As Lohman argues with the Wrangler, she steals his money and leaves. A month passes and Lohman is in a taxi, now this film has leaps of faith aplenty but you can live with them as it works in the context of a black comedy. In this case it is a leap of faith that suggests he was able to find both the correct town she ran to, the taxi driver who transported her and that said driver remembers the woman who talked to herself. He takes Lohman to the squalid squat she is living in.

hurting YankaHe finds her room and she wears a bath robe. As he embraces her she stabs him. She then starts asking what it wants now, she lifts the knife up for a killing blow but then refuses to deliver and… the baby talks to her. It needs blood to grow within her and she will kill and she will feed it. When she refuses, and threatens to hurt it, it make threats that it will burst out of her belly and then causes her pain, making her bleed internally and spit it up. She ends up butchering Lohman.

Richard ends up deadThe film follows her misadventures and, again, leaps of faith are needed as she seems quite inept at murder and yet is never caught. With the review I want to jump forward to her working as a waitress when a man, Richard (Jean-François Gallotte), falls for her. Of course he ends up dead but certain things are interesting from a film and lore point of view. Firstly the café in which she works has a poster for ‘Baby Blood 2’ up (actually I understand there is now a sequel called Lady Blood). Lore wise she manages to get the baby drunk when having a meal with Richard – at which point it suggests that she should “f*ck him and I grab him by the balls”. It can move around inside her in a way that is sexually stimulating and it dislikes her smoking.

anxiety dreamWe see her heavily pregnant and at this time she starts to have further anxieties and yet, bizarrely, she seems to actually like the baby also. The anxieties come out in the form of a dream where she is giving birth but the baby tries to emerge – an adult – from out of her belly. Out of the dream, the baby tells her it will want to visit the sea, when born, as it is its element. It confesses that it is a new species, destined to replace man – in 60 million years time.

shedding skinThe idea of the monster inside was done well by the Alien movies and this does, in my opinion, owe those films a debt. When the baby is born Yanka is driving it to the sea but her stolen car breaks down. She leaves the baby – for all the world just a new born – in the car as she tries to get a mechanic, unaware that the car is smoking underneath. The baby cries and a hitcher looks in. Yanka sees him pulled inside the car, when she gets there the man is dead and the baby has shed its skin.

babys can be troubleShe tracks it to a coach of footballers and gets aboard trying to find it – the driver seemingly unconcerned at the fact that she is covered in blood. She wakes the footballers as she searches and she is in danger of being gang raped when the driver is attacked. The baby has developed into a tentacled thing that attaches to his head, feeding from him.

drinking from a blood packThe film is gross and yet very funny. The relationship she has with this monster within her is both humorous and, at times, touching as well as quite horrific. The baby needs blood and it is only towards the end she realises that a stolen blood pack will do the job. It has the power to bring her back to life as it needs her as a host whilst it grows.

labour in goreOf course it is Emmanuelle Escourrou’s performance that makes this film and she is excellent. She has an odd but striking look as well as a voluptuous body that she is quite happy to show in all its glory. The gore is over the top – a man is exploded with gas at one point – but fits the tone of the film. Not for everyone but I think worth 6 out of 10 for one of the more unusual films the genre has to offer.

The imdb page is here.

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