Blood Hook (1986)
WRITERS: Story by Gail Anderson, David Herbert, James Mallon, and Douglas Rand
Screenplay by Larry Edgerton & John Galligan
DIRECTOR: James Mallon
STARRING: Mark Jacobs as Peter Van Clease
Lisa Todd as Ann
Patrick Danz as Rodney
Sara Hauser as Kiersten
Christopher Whitting as Finner
Don Winters as Leroy Leudke
Paul Drake as Wayne Duerst
Bill Lowrie as Evelyn Duerst
Sandy Meuwissen as Bev D.
QUICK CUT: A guy and his friends head up to the family summer home in Minnesota for a weekend on the lake, and along the way they meet the local best fisherman with scary good accuracy, and partake in the local muskie festival.
Peter - The good guy of the film, whose father passed away years ago, leaving scars on Pete's young psyche. He's a good guy, if a bit shell shocked at times, and very loyal to friends and family.
Ann - Pete's girlfriend, who is into meditation, and trying to get him to calm down. She has very little personality besides that.
Rodney - The goofball of the group, and he's also trying to be a little punk in his style and attitude. But he's a good guy with a big smile and heart, even if he has questionable fashion choices, like fishing lure earrings.
Finner - The weirdly great fisherman of the group. He puts some of the locals to shame in that regard, and all he wants to do is cast his line and reel in some big fish. Oh, and also...
Bev - The girl Finner sets his sights on, when they meet at the Muskie Festival, which she helps coordinate. She's a single mom, and has a penchant for leaving her son home alone out in the yard. Yay parenting?
Kiersten - Another of the girls in the group, and she's your typical 80s better than you fashion maven who only cares about her hair and looking good.
Wayne - The caretaker for the Van Clease place, has history with Pete's grandfather and father, and he is EXTREMELY loyal. To a fault. He does not take kindly to cheaters and liars, and that comes into play repeatedly.
Evelyn - Wayne's son, and the local gun toting conspiracy guy. He's a bit much to take in, has serious anger issues he inherited from dad.
Leroy - The owner of the local bait shop, a friendly, affable local sort, and he serves as the Harbinger, warning people to be careful in the woods.
THE GUTS: Welcome back Triskelions! It is mid-April, but most importantly, the day after this review gets posted. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 RETURNS!! So, how could I possibly celebrate such a momentous occasion? How else to commemorate the return of the show most responsible for influencing me? How else, but by watching a bad movie that was created by some of the people who would go on to help birth MST3K; Blood Hook!
In fairness, the involvement is very minor, pretty much the fact this was directed by Jim Mallon, one of MST's co-creators, but still. Perfect time to finally get around to this messterpiece, yes? And there's also a Kevin Murphy deep behind the scenes. Still, this is MST3K adjacent and probably should the gang what they could pull off in their spare time, so let's do this!
The movie starts out 17 years before 1986 or so, as a young boy watches his father do some fishing out on the lake, and listening to some music on an ancient tape recorder.
As he shows the kid the device, the trees start to angrily hiss at him for disturbing their quiet peace, and...something happens. I'm not sure if it was badly shot, or left deliberately ambiguous to preserve mystery, but it LOOKS like dad suddenly starts waving about, and falls into the lake dead.
Now, just to cut to the chase, he got hooked in the face by a giant baiting lure, and dragged off into the water. If they were preserving that mystery, it doesn't last long, and I'm not going to preserve it. If they wanted it as how a kid might remember things 17 years later, okay, I can see that, but there are better ways they could've sold that idea, I think.
But that's enough setup, as we dive into the far flung past of 1986, with the kid all grown up, and returning to the summer home for some fun times on the lake, all while the town is having it's big Muskie Festival.
Meanwhile, the RV from Pod People rolls into town as well, and stops at the local bait shop, so we can meet the Harbinger for the movie. The family is lost, and gets directions to the local campground. But this will not be the last we see of the Swains. They don't get off that lucky.
And instantly, this movie is getting on my nerves, because it seems to have only two modes; wide master shot establishing and including everyone and EXTREME CLOSE UP. There is no in between!
Back in Movie A, after the kids meet a few more pieces of local colour at the festival, they continue on to the Van Clease place, and we meet Evelyn because of course the movie needed a gun toting backwoods conspiracy nut type who is also taking care of the place.
They manage to not just offend Evelyn, which is dodgy to do to the guy with the assault rifle, but his dad Wayne. Who's sole goal is to show up and yell angrily at these pesky kids and their disrespectin' of the adult folk!
But they get into the place without anyone getting shot, and check out grandad's record collection. And also coincidentally play the same song that was playing when dad got catfished at the start of the movie. Get used to this song, because they use the heck out of it!
Peter starts to freak out from the music, and steps outside to catch his breath, have some PTSD flashbacks, and establish he's the kid and this is the same house, if that wasn't already clear.
The two movies collide as everyone has dinner at a nearby spot, until Mrs. Swain wanders off into the night, to thankfully get things dying and escape the movie.
Peter just misses her demise though, so things continue on mysteriously, with no one being the wiser. For now.
In the meantime, we see local fishing champion Denny, who earlier made a big deal about hating cheaters, getting his fish ready to be caught and...HEY THAT'S CHEATING! Lying liar who lies!
But creepy crazy Wayne comes by afterwards and dumps the tank out into the water, ruining Denny's master plan. Thrill to the machinations of fishermen!
Also, Peter's still freaking out a little, and Ann lets it slip that he's been hallucinating. Man, this movie is setting up lots of possibilities. I guess it's only natural for a fishing based horror movie to be full of red herrings.
Finner just so happens to catch Denny's fish, and also runs back into Bev D. who's coordinating the festival, and she invites the strangers over for breakfast. We also meet her baby boy, who she just leaves outside like a dog. They question if she isn't afraid of bears coming after him. I can't decide if this is a weird thing to ask or not. I've had actual bears come to visit my home, so it's hard to say...
But it turns out bears are the least of her worries, as the kid almost gets captured by the Blood Hook coming after him.
Fishing Lure Earring Boy heads over to Leudke's bait shop to establish some backstory between him and Wayne and Grandad Van Clease, and how they all had a falling out, what with having anger issues and such, and everyone in this town taking their fishing very seriously.
He also blurts out that you could make an excellent movie out of that story of fishing and betrayal. Instead, we got Blood Hook.
But Rodney finishes his chat, and heads out on the lake to listen to tunes and catch some rays, and find more fishing lures.
And by that, I mean that the killer tosses out his Blood Hook onto the boat, and catches the guy right in the nuts.
The boat gets found, but no body. So the cops may be looking into things, I'd say we're a ways away from achieving Peak Corpse. We are close though.
But there are some bullets laying in the boat, and they are the same kind as Evelyn Duesrt's gun, so they go to have a chat with him. The big twist comes though when the gun is actually revealed to be just a cheap wooden prop. So he's a crazy *carved* gun toting maniac.
Peter tries to talk to the sheriff after he caused a panic, and we briefly dip into Jaws and Winterbeast territory with not wanting to panic people during the big festival. Jaws, but on a lake. And with muskies.
Kiersten gets upset over all the yelling, so goes to float out on the lake, while Wayne sharpens up the hook attached to a giant fishing l...WAIT A SECOND!!
We see her get lured or hit by a boat, or SOMEthing, and instantly cut back to Wayne dumping something wrapped up in a bag into a cooler, and covering with ice, and saying "He finally got that bitch!"
...Which is then revealed to be his entry in the fishing contest. This is one of the best uses of a red herring ever. The cutting between him and the girl, the setup, playing with expectations, but then no, it is COMPLETELY something else. Well done.
Meanwhile, Peter and Ann notice that Kiersten has gone missing, and go to call the sheriff, but the phone is dead! And the cicadas are chirping! Which is when Evelyn barges into the house to shout about vibrations messing with people's heads! Boundaries, dude!
Elsewhere, the Swain kid is hanging out with Leudke again, and asking a lot of questions, before Leeeeeroy Leudke storms ahead of the rest of the raid, to bring the kid home.
There's also a lot of little things going on, like Irving's dad stranded on the lake, and Finner discovering his love interest Bev is also super friendly with Evelyn, and he starts to act all jealous, while carrying one of those giant lures around.
If everyone has a giant killer lure, then no one is special!
Mr. Swain is busy blowing his horn to try and get someone to save him, and a helpful friend comes by to oblige...no wait, they come by to kill him with the blood hook instead.
Suddenly, Peter has a revelation that everyone is dying like his father died, which no one knows how it happened except for him...AND FINNER! More red herrings! Of course, since no one knows these are murders, there's no bodies, and the only actual connection is 'disappeared without a trace' it makes you wonder how Pete is making the connection.
"They died just like my dad, except we've never seen any bodies, so I can't know that!"
But Peter is still pretty sure he's just overreacting, because the real killer would know too, but heads over to Bev's place to check in on Finner and make sure no one is getting killed.
Unfortunately, Bev is busy getting killed.
Peter and Ann and Eve end up finding evidence that Bev is at least missing and Finner was there, so it's not looking good for him.
So Finner gets drunk and rides out on the lake to drown his sorrows, but not kill anyone, and crank the music. Meanwhile. Leudke hears it, and starts freaking out in his bait shop.
He grabs one of his fishing poles, casts his lure, and grabs Finner in the cheek. Miraculously, the kid pulls it out and gets away. And before you think this might be another red herring, nope! Leudke is indeed the killer, driven mad by a metal plate in his head, and the vibrations from the music combined with the cicadas chirping. The movie will get into the plot points shortly.
1) It is actually wonderfully set up. Yes, there are a bunch of red herrings based on anger and jealously, but they actually drop a LOT of hints for each piece of the puzzle coming together to point at Leroy. 2) Eve's ravings about vibrations were actually *right*. C) I love the Harbinger role becoming the killer.
There ARE a few instances where he kills people without music around, but I can almost let it go just based on the cicadas. I know if I had to hear cicadas all the ding dang day like that, it would drive me to murder, too. That or 80s music, either will do the trick.
Oh right, movie. Before Finner can get away, Leudke drags the boat back to shore and kills the kid with a gaffe. He then proceeds to head back to his shop and grind up bodies.
I can't decide if I want to make a "Tim, it's what's for Finner!" joke or something about being a good chum.
Kiersten actually swims back into the plot, hysterically screaming and trying to explain what happened to her, and they find Finner's ear after Will Graham coughs it up.
We have definitely achieved peak corpse now, even though the cops aren't called in. There's plenty of evidence, and too many missing bodies, as the rest of the cast catches up with Pete's suspicions.
Leudke retrieves his bodies to get some fresh meat I guess, while Pete plays some music and makes the connection between the music, the cicadas, and a certain kind of chord known as the Devil's Tritone. Which is something actually banned by classical music, because it supposedly drove people crazy.
So, this movie can basically be boiled down to, IF YOU KIDS DON'T KNOCK OFF THAT RACKET, I'M COMING UP THERE!!
And all the various threads come crashing together, as Pete's music, Evelyn's raving conspiracy theories, the kids knowing Leudke has a metal something in his head, and Wayne's knowledge of the locals add up to everyone figuring out who the killer is.
This may be a silly movie, but I cannot stress enough how much I like the various things going on converging into an actually coherent plot. It's some solid, if unintentional, detective work. Although it is a little awkward how every single necessary person to build up this reveal just so happens to wander into the Van Clease place with their puzzle piece
But they know the sheriff won't investigate the disappearances, or the well respected Leudke, without evidence. So Peter and Eve poke around the bait shop to try and find anything tangible. Especially since they already feel like Peter is the boy who cried killer wolf.
While they were gone, Ann goes down to the lake to meditate with some music, and you can probably guess how that went. Look, if you're gonna head out and leave someone alone, make sure they know what triggers the murders before you leave. That's your lesson for the day.
The boys finally convince Wayne that Leeeeeeroy Leudke killed all the people, and he has a plan to stop him! How do you catch a killer fisherman? WITH BAIT!
So Peter rows out into the lake with the boom box like the worst Say Anythying rip off ever and waits for the cicadas to do their thing. But he wusses out and sits there doing nothing, until the sun comes up and Leudke heads out to do some fishing.
Wayne tries to accuse Leudke at the festival, and the sheriff drags him off, because it just looks like he's once again being jealous over the friendly competition. "But there's nothing friendly about MURDER!!"
He gets back to the Van Clease place, and finds Wussy Peter out on the dock. He's had a thing about fishing ever since dad died, but now he wants to be taught, so he can go after Leudke.
On the one hand, we miss a great opportunity of having a fishing training montage, which would have been AMAZING. But on the other hand, Wayne is right, and wanting to learn how to cast a line is the *worst idea* to go after a killer. But he does appreciate the revenge irony, so teaches him.
So, Wayne trains the kid, far too briefly for my tastes, and that night he's back out on the lake with his boombox to try again, and this time he nuts up and cranks up the tunes.
What ensues is the greatest cinematic fight in history. Leudke hooks Peter right in the chest, but then Peter hooks him RIGHT BACK! Two titans of tusseldom, locked in combat for the ages, hooked by each other's lures!
Sadly, the epicness is short lived, as the kid passes out from blood loss, and Leudke reels the boat in, and takes Pete to his shop to add him to the collection. Sigh, an all too brief moment of an amazing fight.
But Leudke also brought the boom box in, and when Peter wakes up, he slams the play button and uses the headache enducing 80s rock to save the girl.
Unfortunately, they rejoice too soon and knock the stereo into the bait tank. Fortunately, the cops roll up and Leudke knows the gig is up. He runs off into the woods, never to be seen again, but Wayne vowing to take down his friend.
Which is a weird note to end on, bypassing the main characters and leaving them just kinda standing there a few scenes ago, and instead focusing on a second tier character, as we pan across the lake with cicadas coming on once more to make Leudke scream into the credits.
This is not an ending! There's no closure, no bad guy dead or captured, and the only thing this movie accomplished was to tell Pete who killed his dad!
Video: For a no budget 80s VHS release ported to DVD by Troma, it could certainly be worse. And if anything, the graininess adds to the charm.
Audio: It is about what you would expect, and on the better side of good, as all the dialogue is clear.
Sound Bite: "Take it easy, this is just a friendly contest!" "There's nothing friendly ABOUT MURDER!"
Body Count: Not too shabby, Blood Hook, you reeled 'em in and kept them under the dock.
1 - A little past three minutes and Mister Van Clease just grabs his face and dies.
2 - Mrs. Swain twirls off into the lake.
3 - Fishing Lure Boy gets caught in the junk
4 - Mr. Swain joins his wife in Davy Jones' locker.
5 - Bev is dragged off and dies.
6 - A gaffe to the face kills off Finner.
Best Corpse: Points to all the floating, waterlogged, eye bugging heads.
Peak Corpse: It gets reached once Bev goes missing and they know something is wrong.
Blood Type - C: Splashes of colour here and there.
Sex Appeal: The girls gets topless briefly for sexytimes.
Drink Up! every time you suspect someone of being the killer or see the giant lure.
Video Nasties: You know I like to avoid Final Battles, but the final two duking it out with fishing poles needed to be shared. My only quibble is this is an idea that someone needs to improve upon.
Movie Review: I thought I was going to be able to come in here and go, ha ha! One of the best brains behind MST3K made a silly horror movie, and it's just as garbage as the stuff they riffed! And in a lot of ways, it is. It's got a lot of similarities to Pod People, with all the plots wandering around. The big idea and what drives the killer is downright absurd. But you know what? It's fairly well made, the acting has that no budget charm to it, and even has a few brief moments of brilliant filmmaking. It may not be Shakespeare, but it's on the higher end of Trisk offerings, getting it a three out of five giant fishing lures.
Entertainment Value: Fortunately, it has enough oddness going for it. Because let's face it, coming up with the idea, and running with it, of metal plate plus music plus cicadas drives someone to murder, but then once he's calmed down he still chums up the bodies, is a downright absurd plot. But they are so earnest for it, and if you're into the movie, it's a lot of fun to see unfold. And there's still a lot of quirky actors and characters, so it may be coherent, it's still plenty goofy, like all the best Triskings are. I genuinely enjoyed this movie for all it's wonderful campiness, far more than I thought I would. Four out of five stud finders.