13th Nov2017

‘Blood Beat’ Blu-ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Helen Benton, Terry Brown, Dana Day, James Fitzgibbons, Claudia Peyton, Peter Spelson, Franck Miley, Carol Wagner, Charlie White, Andrea Cauchon | Written and Directed by Fabrice A. Zaphiratos


Siblings Dolly (Dana Day) and Ted (James Fitzgibbons) – as well as Ted’s new girlfriend Sarah (Claudia Peyton) – are visiting their mother Cathy (Helen Benton) and her man’s man of a boyfriend Gary (Terry Brown) at their house in the scenic forests of Wisconsin. What should be a jolly and festive gathering starts off rocky with both Cathy and Sarah sharing bad vibes with one another and I’m not just talking about that usual distrust of in-laws! Shaky starts aside – it’s business as usual as the gang partake in the normal family bonding rituals such as hunting a single Bambi together when uncle Peter (Peter Spelson) pays a visit. Thankfully, Bambi lives to fight another day when the screamish and highly strung Sarah has second thoughts, disrupts the hunt and runs away only to stumble upon a man breathing his final breath after suffering what looks like a stabbing. After dealing with the police, the family return home to try and get on with what should be a nice family gathering. Traumatised, Sarah retreats to her bedroom to sleep where she is awoken and discovers a chest housing a Samurai uniform only for it to disappear when she alerts the family. Unfortunately, it seems that Sarah has unwittingly awoken an evil spirit because wouldn’t you know it!? Someone donning the Samurai uniform begins a bloody rampage. What exactly is going on here!? Who holds the key!? Could it just be coincidence?

In all honesty – and pardon my French – I actually have no f**king clue what is going with at least 70% of Blood Beat. This could quite possibly be the most pretentious low-budget slasher I have ever seen; and pardon my ignorance towards the French – you can clearly tell this has European flare. I’m not even going to begin trying to describe exactly what happens because I quite frankly don’t really know and this is a classic example of a film you should go in to as blind as possible. What I will say is that you get blood, supernatural goings on, Sarah being mentally connected to our Samurai killer via orgasm (that’s a first I think!) and lot’s of arthouse sensibility. Characters doing things no rational person would do, purposefully French aesthetic touches, lots of close ups of people starting at things and some absolutely gorgeous outside cinematography.

Watching the way the location itself is filmed, I am reminded of the sensitive handling and appreciation of nature seen throughout Werner Herzog’s filmography and even a touch of that silent isolation found in Bo Arne Vibenius’s Thriller: A Cruel Picture. Utilisation of classical music and moody, droning synth music just add to the surreal nature of this film. You get the feeling that the film is potentially incomplete at times, but that’s counteracted with an intentional vagueness with regards to what is going on and why it is. Parts of this film leave a sour taste in my mouth, but I have to say that it’s great to see a slasher (although I wouldn’t really class this as a slasher?) like this that is really quite different from what can be a VERY tedious sub genre of horror.

For a directorial debut it’s quite accomplished, but far from perfect. Respect to everyone involved because there is genuine talent throughout. From the performances from a cast who primarily only have this production under their belt (especially the cute as a button Dana Day who’s character is like the PERFECT woman – boisterous, not afraid to get her hands dirty and could probably drink you under the table whilst at the same time being adorable) to the adventurous cinematography from Vladimir Van Maule and the fantastic score. Films like Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre rightfully get the respect for being films being made by amateurs driven by passion. I think Blood Beat (although lacking the re-playability factor.) can sit alongside such films with it’s head held up high and it just goes to show that if you have the passion, skill and good people surrounding you – you can produce a feature length film.

Vinegar Syndrome have once again done a great job. The negatives used were clearly in terrible condition so there are segments that look haggard and Blood Beat does suffer greatly from some almost mood killing moments of muddiness with sound, but Vinegar Syndrome lead the way in preservation and restoration so they have done a great job to make this presentable. In terms of extras there’s an introduction, commentary track and interview with the director. Alongside that you also get an interview with Vladimir Van Maule, a cool silent condensed version of the film with new music, a short film and a stills gallery. It really is a wonderful package for an obscure film like this. If you are a fan – you own it already, but if you want something new – give this a go straight away.


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