Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bleeders (aka Hemoglobin)

Sorry for the long delay, readers. I've been going through some personal stuff this month and it became hard to work up the motivation to write again.

Tonight's movie is Bleeders, aka Hemoglobin, one of two film adaptions I've seen of the classic H.P. Lovecraft story The Lurking Horror, and sadly the only one I own. I wanna start off saying that as with many other fans of the horror genre, I'm a tremendous fan of Lovecraft. I have everything he's written, I've both played and GMed Call of Cthulhu, and every Christmas since release I've ha to listen to the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's mythos-themed Christmas album.

What saddens me is that, for the most part, outside of HPLHS's silent film Call of Cthulhu, we've never had a faithful H.P. Lovecraft movie. We've had a lot of in-name-only adaptions (the film Necronomicon only got one story right, Cool Air), we've had a lot of really loose adaptions (From Beyond, Reanimator, Dagon.) We've of course also had a lot of tribute films or relatively Lovecraftian movies in general (In The Mouth of Madness being an excellent tribute to the man, from the always fantastic as long as you pretend Ghosts of Mars doesn't exist John Carpenter.) We almost had a faithful film begin production this year, an adaption of In The Mountains of Madness directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade 2, Pan's Labyrinth) and supervised by H.P. Lovecraft expert S. T. Joshi. Sadly, Universal refused to greenlight it because Guillermo del Toro wouldn't promise a PG-13 rating. Fuck Universal.

Bleeders begins in Holland with twin aristocrats having softcore sex, because some films just want to get to the sex as quick as possible before the opening credits are even done with. When the credits do arrive, we see Rutger Hauer in the list, and it becomes even more obvious why I would review the film. Besides loving H.P. Lovecraft, Rutger Hauer is something of a b-grade horror icon, beyond just being in the always awesome Blade Runner and Ladyhawke. Besides that, this film was also written by Dan O'Bannon, the writer behind Alien, Darkstar, Return of the Living Dead, Total Recall, and Director Gets Excuse For Hot Naked Woman To Roam London, better known as Lifeforce. Surely with those two working on an H.P. Lovecraft film this has to be awesome, right? Right?

We flash forward to the modern era where Pale Rich Guy and his wife arrive at a small, crappy looking New England fishing town just in time for PRG to seize up and bleed from multiple orifices. Instead of cutting to medical diagrams while Massive Attack's Teardrops plays, he's taken to the local doctor, played by everyone's favorite Hobo with a Shotgun, who for some reason looks more like he's cosplaying as Charles Bronson here. We also cut to a mean old mannish chick carrying luggage into her house and some kids playing in her basement. The kids are messing around with a dog when old mannish chick screams for them to come up, and... we get a shot of our lurking horror: Some white thing with bone tools. Really, as long as it looks better than the ones in the Full Moon adaption, I'm fine.

Pale Rich Guy, who we now know is named John, was apparently raised in France under an anonymous trust fund (is this as silly sounding to everyone else as it is to me?) and has some "serious congenital medical disorder". We don't know what one, it's not named, so I'm gonna go ahead and call it blooditis. His wife, Kathleen, apparently was trying to find information on his parents, and tracked his birth back to the island. Well, at least the exposition is handled alright. Or at least it is until even Dr. Rutger Hauer feels the need to give a backstory out of nowhere involving alcoholism. Still, it's Rutger Haeur, so I don't mind. Rutger Hauer, Tony Todd, Linnea Quigley, Clint Howard, etc. are among the few b-grade horror actors where a scene of them giving bad dialogue or doing something stupid is generally more enjoyable than anything else in the film. Oh what I'd give for a film with all of them. We need the b-grade horror equivalent of The Expendables wherein Bruce Campbell, Tony Todd, Rutger Hauer, Linnea Quigley, Clint Howard, Brad Dourif, and Jeffrey Combs fight a bunch of monsters played by Kane Hodder, Doug Jones, Doug Bradley, Robert Englund, etc.

We get to meet a bunch of the townsfolk including a sweet but shy girl that works at the mortuary that the main couple are staying at (I'm not joking), a slutty girl that wants to hop Pale Rich Guy's bone and seems to think his non-french french accent is Italian, and some woman that has apparently never said a word since she was six. That's totally not a setup just for her to struggle to say something and overcome her silent later, surely not. We also get an update on what Dr. Hauer thinks is going on with John: He's a byproduct of inbreeding and may be part of the Van Damme family, which apparently was very big on inbreeding. Also Dr. Hauer keeps a fetus with heterochromia in a jar for some reason. ...we also get this little jewel randomly shoved into the end of that scene: "I'm pregnant." There was nothing prodding it, it almost seemed like the actress only just remembered she was supposed to tell Dr. Hauer that she was pregnant.

For some reason, or for no reason, later that night John tries to rape Kathleen. It's not explained, and he stops and apologizes after ripping her dress, so it just seems kinda... random. The scene doesn't even last that long as we cut to the graveyard where the cute mortician chick is gonna do some graverobbing, because dammit only Rutger Hauer should be likable in this film, and he keeps jarred fetuses around! While stealing the necklace, the coffin gets broken through from below and the corpse gets taken off by some unseen thing. She runs to get out of the grave, but a bone tool digs into her leg and she's pulled down by some deformed midget unmasked Jason Voorhees into the tunnels below. I'm not sure how the creature is able to pull her off while she's still alive just using that, and I don't think anyone involved with the film knows either, but maybe they just didn't care.

The next day we find out some huge storm is happening and trapping people on the island. Shortly after some woman's going through shipping crates when another deformed midget pops out of the box, scares her, runs off the dock, and gets diced up by a boat. I guess deformed midgets like hanging out in empty crates? Elsewhere Jack and Kathleen are heading towards the Van Damme home with the mannish old chick who gives them some exposition about the Van Dammes in such a rapid fire way that the actress actually has to pause for breath during it, which made me laugh. It turns out that the mannish chick is just there to steal the necklace as well, but she presumably meets the same fate off camera. We'll never know, because we cut to Dr. Hauer performing an autopsy on one of the deformed midgets, wherein he finds that it's a functional hermaphrodite that can apparently have sex with itself. I'm not joking.

Up at the old Van Damme house, John and Kathleen run into a crazy old woman with a rifle who knows the secret of John: He is a Van Damme, but was named after the composer Strauss when he was given away. The old woman gets creeped out hearing that he has some craving he doesn't understand, and then threatens to shoot them with her rifle. She kinda reminds me of the batshit insane southern version of the old woman that owns Tweetie Bird and Sylvester. Because this film didn't have enough scenes to cut to in the middle of other scenes, we cut to the kids from earlier playing hide and seek in the same graveyard where to people have already died this film. Surely this will end well. Predictably, the only girl of the group gets pulled underground to her death while the other kids watch.

John decides not to trust the old woman because she claims she saved him from the fire that happened 75 years old, and eventually he realizes that he's not 75 years old and therefore the Van Dammes have to still be alive. She gives in and takes them inside where she admits the house never burned down, and probably couldn't due to the materials used in it. It turns out that the Van Dammes were horribly deformed, and she decided to save John because he didn't look as monstrous as they did. Why she saved Jean Claude as well, I'll never know. Before she can give us an explanation of what happened, one of the deformed midgets comes out, and we get a good look at it in all of its Muppetlike glory as it kills the old woman, only to be scared off by sunlight. The creature effects in this are... pretty hilariously bad looking. Remember that one fun scene in the first Troll where the creatures sing? The creatures in this look on par with them, at best. On the bright side, at least they're better than the goblins in Troll 2.

Rutger Hauer decides he hasn't done anything badass yet in this movie, and since he's still dressed as Charles Bronson, he explores the tunnel system and gets a good view of both the muppet monsters and the bodies of their many victims. We also get a random shot of the cute chick's breast as she's hanging upside down causing her shirt to hang, and we find that the obvious wig on the mannish chick was in fact a wig, whether or not she was actually a man is not stated. I found the random boob kinda funny, since it's just the one and the camera really focuses on it, making it feel hilariously gratuitous. I find it funny that every 30 minutes something sexual has to happen. The film starts with fucking, 30 minutes in we get attempted rape, 30 minutes after that we get gratuitous boobage. If the film wasn't an hour and a half I'd expect more nudity in half an hour, maybe they'll work it into the ending or the credits. Dr. Hauer runs off to gather the towns people to warn them about the monsters and give them all the knowledge that he shouldn't have but does because he read the script, and tells them all to head to the lighthouse because the muppet monsters hate light.

Instead of waiting half an hour, we get a gratuitous sex scene about ten minutes after the gratuious boobshot. The sex scene seriously comes out of nowhere and goes on far too long during a time where the townsfolk are supposed to be running off to the lighthouse for shelter. Thankfully they still have time to get there! Some chick's hanging out outside of the lighthouse keeping guard with a flashlight when one of the muppet monsters comes out and attacks her with a bone weapon. The silent girl tries to warn her but predictably fails. She comes back down to tell the others, and is given a knife so she can go Rambo on them or something. The monsters start dragging themselves towards the lighthouse using bone tools, at times forgetting they hate light, but eventually continuity doesn't have to matter anymore as the light from the lighthouse dies out.

The monsters get into the lighthouse and start attacking the kids and some random townsfolk, dragging them into the tunnels to their doom. One of them stabs Kathleen in the arm with a bone tool, causing the mute girl to jump down into the pit, shout out "No fucking way", and stab one of the muppets to death. She's quickly grabbed by another though and decides to let her throat get slit rather than try getting away. Honestly I don't see hoe these things can be considered menacing. They're like one foot tall, legless, slow as fuck... These people suck at surviving, big time. Seriously, these things would be easy to kick away, they can't realistically reach shit that they're allegedly able to attack... it just doesn't make sense.

John ends up deciding that he likes the killer muppets, and starts eating a little boy with them for some reason. It's kinda out of nowhere and honestly just feels ridiculous. A cave in randomly happens seperating him and the muppets from the townsfolk, saving them and allowing John to leave his wife and have cannibalistic hermaphroditic midget adventures for the rest of his life. His wife's a little saddened by this, but she has Rutger Hauer to keep her company, so I guess everything works out in the end.

Remember me joking about how every half hour something sexual has to happen, and how they'd probably work that into the ending since it's 1h30m? The film ends with him finding his very human looking but severely overweight hermaphrodite sister who, according to narration, can have sex with herself, she also has sex with him too. I'm not joking. What an ending. This film was just... wow. It's not the worst H.P. Lovecraft film I've ever seen, and although from years back I remembered this being better than the Full Moon adaption of the same story, it's... really not better. Still, if you can find a copy of the film, I'd suggest picking it up just to help save this film from obscurity. It's damn near impossible to find a copy on DVD under any of its three names (Bleeders, Hemoglobin, The Descendant.)


  1. I used to always play with the vhs case for this movie when i was at the video store when i was a kid.
    It had a layer of plastic glued to the front with fake blood under it.
    Sadly it sounds like the case was the best part of the movie.

    (BTW i stumbled onto your blog by complete accident a couple of nights ago and i absolutely adore it.)

  2. Thanks! Also the movie rental place I grew up around had that same case, it was so damn awesome. I ended up renting the movie a few times as a kid not just to watch it, but because the fake blood thing was awesome.
    That's something I miss about the VHS era I guess, the neat stuff they'd do to the boxes, like covers you could tilt to change/animate the image (The Lost World Jurassic Park, Night Flier, and Jack Frost come to mind.)

  3. Thanks for the review....I am trying to re-rent this movie...I'll check NetFlix.