FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 6, 2009

Day 6: "Everybody has bad dreams."

Though it may seem nigh impossible for a film to reach the lofty heights achieved by yesterday's craptacular Mausoleum, I'll admit I had high hopes for Blood Song (1982). After all, it's on the same disc with Mausoleum (an Exploitation Cinema double feature!), and it features beach party boy Frankie Avalon as a cold-hearted killer. As we all know, however, high hopes are sometimes beat to a bloody pulp and flushed down the toilet. Such is life.

In the year 1955, a young boy bears witness to a horrible crime: dad comes home and catches mom in bed with her lover; dad shoots mom, the lover, and himself. The boy reacts to the carnage as anyone would- he plays the flute.

In 1982, Marion (Donna Wilkes) lays in bed having a waking nightmare. In a sequence repeated several times throughout the course of the film, the camera zooms in on Marion's eyeball, then the segues to another location via garish colorization.

It's like magic! The scene above transports Marion (or her brain, anyway) and us to the "State Mental Institution" (err, yeah...the SIX WRITERS of Blood Song couldn't be bothered to name the damn hospital), where Flute Boy- Flute Man, now- is a patient. He's all grown up now, of course, and he's played by the aforementioned Frankie Avalon. As you'd expect from a horror film, Flute Man kills a guard, steals his uniform, and busts a move out of the Institution.

Flute Man hitches a ride along the way to San Francisco and manages to irritate the driver by playing the same lousy song over and over again on his flute. When the driver asks him to knock it off- and goes on to actually insult the flute-playing- Flute Man becomes enraged and kills him. The he steals the Black Van of Doom and continues on his way.

This is what a homicidal Steve Guttenberg Frankie Avalon looks like.

The Black Van of Doom

In a bid to Pay It Forward, Flute Man picks up his own hitchhiker, a young lady who should know better than to climb into a stranger's van. The two head off to a cheap motel for an Afternoon Delite, and everything's going swell...until Flute Man does his flute thing- and no, that's not a euphemism.

The hitchhiker asks him to knock it off, and of course he gets irritated to a homicidal degree:

"Don't you like my music?"
"Nothing personal- just not as much as you do!"

At this point, one realizes that yes, the premise of Blood Song is really going to be that Flute Man kills people who insult his lousy, incessant flute playing...and yet this is not a satire or black comedy.

Meanwhile, what of Marion, our eyeball nightmarist? She's got it rough. Her leg is in a brace thanks to the night daddy (Richard Jaeckel) did some drunk driving and cracked up the car. While she was in the hospital, she required some blood...which was nicely donated by Flute Man while he was in the Institution. Now you see why she's having these visions- it all makes perfect scientific sense!

Things begin to look up for Marion, however, as she graduates from a brace to a cane and takes a lonely stroll on beach, accompanied by a ballad sung by Lainie Kazan.

Things begin to look down for Marion, however, when she stumbles across Flute Man burying the body of the hitchhiker.

By this time, I kept thinking "Where the hell is Donna Wilkes??" - of course, she's here as Marion, but I was thinking of (and wanting to see) Donna Pescow. No offense to Donna Wilkes- I mean, she was Angel (schoolgirl by day, hooker by night) and all, but she's no Donna Pescow. Mind you, this has nothing to do with anything, I am just saying.

Oh, umm...for the rest of the film Flute Man chases Marion around town, attempting to kill her, The End. Oh wait, he kills Richard Jaeckel along the way, which is fine by me.

Blood Song was more than a bit of torture to sit through. Sure, Frankie Avalon gives it his best effort, but the brief flashes of action and violence are wrapped up in a tortilla of boredom. The entire affair is plodding and dull- the "Don't insult my mad flute skillz" angle is taken too seriously (also, not serious enough) to be any fun, and the psychic connection between Flute Man and Marion proves pointless in the end. All in all, it's a sub-par slasher flick with a "shocking" ending that goes on and on and on until you cry "uncle". What a drag.

Now, I did truly dislike the film, but I'll admit it does have a couple of highlights.

1) There's a guy who looks like Paul Williams, and he comes sauntering in wearing a homemade t-shirt that says "BEAT THE BALONEY":

2) The kitchen cabinetry is rad:

I mean, it's just so hard to find avocado kitchen accoutrements these days.


Kmork said...

Wow. I mean, that's the t-shirt I've been longing to create my entire life, and I hadn't realized it until just now. Thanks, StaPon!

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacie Ponder said...

I know...I wanted to love it! It wasn't camp enough for me- nor good enough to be...well, good. :D Maybe in 5 years I'll give it another go and I'll be feeling more generous!

Verdant Earl said...

Ah, Donna Wilkes. Of Jaws 2 fame. Always felt bad that she was on the raw end of the "tits like a sparrow" insult thrown at her in that one.

Erich Kuersten said...

Wow, I'm confused because I remember always seeing this film on afternoon TV in the 1970s, so it had to come out before 1982. Unless I'm thinking of some other film where Frankie Avalon plays the flute and kills people. It was on all the time on UHF and I even sampled some of the dialogue on an old cassette mix tape, the bad flute playing ingeniously segued from some other song with a flute in it, and led to this dialogue:

(flute playing)
Some guy: Can't you play something else?
Frankie: My daddie taught this song to me before he died (pregnant pause, then, chokingly:) he never had time to teach me anything else!
Some guy: Well maybe you should get yourself a different teacher!

Anonymous said...

So, wait, how did he end up on the Island? It seems like the movie leaves out all the stuff about him being a tormented con man...

Gritty Poet said...

"As we all know, however, high hopes are sometimes beat to a bloody pulp and flushed down the toilet. Such is life."

Lol. You rock.

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, I totally agree with all the preceding negative comments.

On the other hand, let's not be QUITE so hard on this movie, for at least two reasons: 1) Lenny "Luca Brasi" Montana, who co-produced (!), co-wrote (!!!), and appeared as a KINDLY fishing-boat captain (sleeps-with-the-fishes joke, anyone?); 2) seriously here, the most intelligent line uttered in any slasher movie, or indeed any horror movie: "Why don't you guys go check it out, and we'll meet you back at the car?"

What's not to love?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Moviezzz. Blood Song is a gawdang camp classic.

Miskatonic said...

I just watched this one and felt like I discovered a minor classic. I was shocked to discover that Final Girl didn't like it and Horror Movie a Day hasn't even seen it. I'm sad. Somebody play that Lainie Kazan song! It had a few boring parts toward the beginning, but it turned into a lot of fun by the middle. I wish someone would clean it up and give it a proper release.