Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bog – review

Director: Don Keeslar

Release date: 1979

Contains spoilers

This is one that nearly went down a ‘Vamp or Not?’ route as what we have is essentially a gill-man type creature (Jeff Schwaab). We have examined such creatures as blood drinkers before, however, for instance in the Horror of Party Beach. Now those were created through radiation and human remains, whilst this is another species, but they both need human blood.

As well as needing human blood to feed on, this creature has another unique connection to humanity, as we will see.

poaching with dynamite
So, the film starts, we are out in the woods and the camera comes to rest on Bog Lake. On the lake is a rowboat piloted by Potter (Dino Stroppa), a poacher. He is using dynamite to kill fish in the lake. As he leans in to pick up the floating dead fish something unseen grabs him and pulls him in. He has awoken something within the lake. On the shore we see that all this has been observed by local hermit crone Adrianna (Gloria DeHaven).

After one of the most god-awful title credit tracks ever put to a film (and one that resurfaces in a romantic moment later) we are back into the woods, driving with Chuck (Rohay North) and his wife Kim (Lou Hunt), along with pal Alan (Glen Voros) and his wife May (Carol Terry). They’ve come camping, with the boys after doing some drinking and their wives less than impressed at being in nature (and rather shrill as well). May spots Potter’s boat where it has drifted aground and thinks it might put a dampener on the boys' plans – but it just provides a fishing excuse. The next day Chuck and Kim take to the boat, whilst Alan and May fish from the bank.

Kim's fate
May is convinced that something is wrong but Alan dismisses her feeling and goes further down the bank, meanwhile something large bumps into the boat. From the boat May is heard screaming; by the time they get to shore, Alan is frantically looking for his wife. Chuck sends Kim to the car as they continue to look. When she gets there the doors are locked and she screams as something looms above her. Now the film did right in keeping the creature out of shot or obscured through the majority of the film – though this had as much to do with it looking really rubbish when we finally see it.

Gloria DeHaven as Ginny
The boys go to the police and are met by Sheriff Rydholm (Aldo Ray, Evils of the Night) and eventually the exsanguinated bodies of their wives are found. The state of them confounds local “sawbones” Dr Brad Wednesday (Marshall Thompson, Fiend Without a Face, It! The Terror from Beyond Space & First Man Into Space) but, after examining them, pathologist Ginny Glenn (also Gloria DeHaven) knows what killed them even though the how is confounding. They have very little in the way of abrasions and cuts but she works out that something was forced down their throats, through the thorax and punctured the aorta. She suggests it is for feeding purposes and wonders if they have a “Dracula running loose out there”, being an example of making Dracula a genus. Later a fragment found in the autopsy behind proves to be organic.

Gloria DeHaven as Adrianna
So… we know what it is (a gill-man) but Adrianna ends up telling us some more details. He (Adrianna uses the masculine) is known by several names (she reels them off but they were meaningless) and is ancient. Dead but alive, she says (so undead), he sleeps in the muck at the bottom of the lake for long periods but when awakened he feasts on blood. Later Ginny discovers that it produces an anti-coagulant (which might be overkill given it is feeding directly from the aorta) and a tissue sample they get suggests that the creature is made up entirely of cancerous cells (this was the pseudo-science kitchen sink being thrown in).

fighting the creature
The creature is on a rampage and so the sheriff’s plan to send a couple of divers into the lake seems a bit heartless (it isn’t clear that he let them know what was going on). More heartless still when they retrieve some eggs, put them in a boat and then are attacked whilst still in the water. The sheriff pulls the boat to shore by its mooring rope and dismisses Ginny’s concern that they’ll need the boat to escape by suggesting they’ll never need anything again. The creature later sneaks (yes, at seven or so feet tall, and slimy, it sneaks) into town and steals the eggs back.

Now… you might be wondering, “eggs?” but Adrianna named it in the masculine. Adrianna seems to be left alone by the creature, despite her hovel being very close to the lake. Later they discover that her blood is very similar to the creature’s and no one can remember how long she has lived out there. She is (or was) human but to breed the creature needs a human female, who he then transfuses (through his blood drinking prong, we assume) with his own blood – changing their body chemistry. Brad reckons it might change their brain chemistry too, making them compliant with the creature. No mention was made of the changes this would entail with regards the human’s mammalian reproductive system.

shadow of the vampire
What else? Well they catch it by luring it with a blood scent generator (and hosing it with some chemical or other). Eventually it has to be killed and fire is the answer. In keeping with showing as little as possible through the film, when the creature steals its eggs back we only see a shadow version of it – which stylistically tied it into the vampire genre (whether this was deliberate is another debate entirely). However the feeding from blood (and the highly specialist adaptation to allow it to get down human throats as it does) and the need to change a woman into its bride through a transfusion of its blood, really shouts out vampire to me.

it's in the trees, it's coming
The framing of shots were surprisingly competent at times and the old stock gave this a great look generally. The cast were essentially reacting with melodrama chops all the way through and it was great that an autumn romance was thrown in. The creature looked really rubbish and the story was so cheesy it was untrue. This is the sort of film you put on in the background with a load of mates around, get drunk and gently mock it. 3 out of 10 is generous in some respects and totally harsh in others.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: