29th May2020

‘Blood Tide’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Martin Kove, James Earl Jones, Jose Ferrer, Mary Louise Weller, Deborah Shelton, Lila Kedrova, Lydia Cornell, Sofia Seirli, Spyros Papafrantzis | Written by Richard Jeffries, Nico Mastorakis | Directed by Richard Jeffries

Arrow Video’s line of Niko Mastorakis releases (keep them coming Arrow, please!) continues with early 80s exploitationer Blood Tide, a film that has more behind the scenes pedigree than you’d imagine or expect!

The sheer names connected with the film – which is produced and co-written by Mastorakis (Island of Death, The Zero Boys, The Wind), with Brian Trenchard-Smith (Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot), credited a creative consultant AND Richard Jeffries (who’d later go on to direct the fantastic Scarecrows and The Vagrant) behind the camera – is remarkable. It’s a veritable who’s who of genre filmmaking in the 70s and 80s, all coming together to make a film that feels fantastically Lovercraftian.

Set on another Greek island, in much the same manner as Mastorakis’ Island of Death, Blood Tide sees a couple, Neil (Martin Kove) and Sherry (Mary Louise Weller), arrive on the island in search of Neil’s missing sister, Madeline (Deborah Shelton), just as treasure hunter Frye (James Earl Jones) accidentally awaken an ancient sea monster that has been lying dormant on the island for years. Fearing for their lives the islands inhabitants are forced to resume the practice of sacrificing virgins in order to placate the demonic creature…

Talk about atmosphere! Blood Tide has it in spades. A slow-burning horror that perfectly balances the dichotomy of the beautiful, sunny island with the horrific monster (literally) at its core, Jeffries film is the very epitome of the moniker “exploitation film” and one that mixes American sensibilities with a Euro-horror aesthetic that was so prevalent at the time. In fact Blood Tide feels very much like a “loose” European take on the Lovecraft fish-god mythos of Dagon and Shadow Over Innsmouth; the kind of film where the have the imagination but not the budget to pull off the fantastical visions of H.P. Lovecraft. In fact they don’t really have the budget here to show their “monster” much at all either! But Jeffries more than makes ups for any shortcomings with the sheer sense of dread that permeates the film, even in the brightest of scenes… There’s a constant feeling that somethings wrong, somethings off; and that’s even before we know about the monster!

Despite the low-budget nature of the film, Blood Tide is a great example of something you don’t really see anymore: celebrated actors appearing in exploitation cinema – former Oscar winner Jose Ferrer continues his run in genre fare here, no doubt spurred on by the tax troubles he got into in the 70s. Martin Kove, of course, would go on to appear in The Karate Kid two years later and become something of a filmic villain in the years after but here he was still appearing in low budget films and guest starring on 70s TV shows. But the big surprise is James Earl Jones, a huge star after voicing Darth Vader in the first 2 Star Wars movies, as well as appearing in the Roots mini series, Jones made Blood Tide the same year as he appeared in Conan the Barbarian as the classic villain Thulsa Doom – now that’s a REAL dichotomy. But then Jones had an affinity for the odd, often mixing big budget fare with more interesting independent movies; giving all in his performances no matter the budget, or subject. The same goes for Blood Tide. In fact between Jones, Ferrer and Kove, Blood Tide seems an altogether classier affair than a number of Mastorakis’ other work.

A definite hidden gem of 80s horror cinema that had, until this release from Arrow, languished in p*ss-poor release territory (including some terrible DVD release that look more like VHS rips). Which makes this Blu-ray something of a revelation and, frankly, an astonishing restoration. The 4K scan used to produce this Blu-ray makes Blood Tide look brand-new – the colours are remarkably vivid, the blacks deep and dark, the picture looks crisp but is certainly not overly processed: this still looks like it was shot on film, with much-welcome film grain present at times. In terms of audio, the uncompressed mono soundtrack sounds as good as Blood Tide looks with, at least on my equipment, a sometimes quiet vocal track – at least compared to the over the top soundtrack.

The extras on this release are limited to a brand new audio commentary with director/co-writer Richard Jefferies and a newly-filmed interview with producer/co-writer Nico Mastorakis, which sees Mastorakis tell all – letting rip on the likes of Don Simpson (Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, The Rock), discussing his terrible experience at Paramount, and even his issues with the investors of Blood Tide! Mastorakis is ever the storyteller, be it on film or in an interview, so this almost thirty-minute sit-down chat with him is a LOT of fun to watch. Even if the interviewer and his questions seem a little stilted!

Blood Tide is available on Blu-ray now from Arrow Video.

One Response to “‘Blood Tide’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)”

  • Wow, what a FANTASTIC review! I played Barbara and loved being in this film, playing James Earl Jones’ smugging buddy. And our behind-the-scenes drowning scene – in which I couldn’t hear Richard Jeffries yell “CUT!” so I kept swimming out to sea, while the underwater camerman kept trying to catch shots of me topless. To no avail. The wardrobe lady and I had a plan to cover my boobs… ~