Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blödaren (1983)

... aka: Bleeder, The

Directed by:
Hans G. Hatwig

If you're wanting to see a good exploitation / slasher / gore film, look elsewhere. If you're wanting to see some overacting guy chasing girls with horrible hair and clothes around in abandoned houses and through the woods for 80 minutes, this is your movie. Blödaren aka "The Bleeder" (Åke Eriksson) is the nickname given to this film's psycho. He has a beard, long hair and wears a tan jumpsuit, pushes around a baby carriage, is emotionally stunted, likes to wag his tongue around a lot and suffers from some kind of rare, incurable genetic disorder that makes his eyeballs bleed. Twenty five years earlier when he was just a child, his mother attempted to simultaneously drown him and commit suicide in a lake but only managed to kill herself in the process. After spending years in a mental institution, The Bleeder has escaped and is back at his old, long-since-abandoned lakeside home killing whoever he can get his hands on. A young couple whose car breaks down nearby become his first victims. Three months pass, and a new group of people have the misfortune of getting stranded there so it's time for more of the same.

A (terrible!) all-female glam rock band called the "Rock Cats" finish a concert for about a dozen people, hop in their tour bus and are on their way toward another gig. They - Axet (Sussi Ax), Mia (Mia Hansson), Nulle (Agnetha Öhlund), Eva (Eva Danielsson) and Maria (Maria Landberg) - are all bleached and teased blondes decked out in stiletto heels, studded leather jackets with shoulder pads, giant hoop earrings and leopard-print spandex pants. One of the girls even wears leg warmers with bells on them, which are annoyingly heard jingling during nearly every scene. They have a problem with the "generator" on their bus and are forced to walk to Bifors; the nearest village. When they get there, they discover that the entire area has been abandoned and all that remains are a bunch of run-down, unoccupied homes. As they go from house to house, they find blood on the floors and in bathtubs, an altar with cups full of blood and a human skull in a baby carriage. None of that stops these shred-head bimbos from continually wandering off by themselves so they can get picked off one-by-one. Their only hope for being saved is a forest ranger (Danne Stråhed) with a braided rat tail who happens to be in the area checking his mink traps.

You'd figure that a film with the title The Bleeder would have a little, you know, blood in it, right? Think again. Pitchforks, knives and other weapons are brandished at various times, but the killer ends up actually strangling everyone. Though some of the girls are pretty good screamers, the acting is awful and none of the characters are given any personality whatsoever. They all keep their clothes on, too. So there's no gore and no skin... What exactly does this slasher flick have to offer? Well, some of the chase / pursuit sequences are pretty long if you're into that kind of thing. There are a few minor jump scares that actually work. The director has also lucked out in having some pretty great shooting locations in numerous huge, abandoned, lake-front homes. But at the end of the day, I was amused enough just seeing early 80s fashion victims wandering around spouting insipid dialogue and then getting killed.

You also get such well-written dialogue exchanges such as; Girl 1: "I wonder where we are?" / Girl 2: "In a fucking forest somewhere." and one of the most blatant rip-offs of John Carpenter's Halloween score you'll ever hear. Some moments are accidentally amusing; like when they're eating dinner and a can of hair spray is sitting right on the dining room table, and others are just hilariously stupid, like at the finale when the last remaining girl is told to roll up the windows and lock the doors on the car and she leaves the sun roof wide open so when the killer shows up he can easily yank her out. Despite lacking exploitation elements, there's probably going to be enough general stupidity here to please fans of low-budget trash. The director was known primarily for being the editor of a music magazine and several of the actors were involved in the rock music scene (the guy who plays the killer, for instance, was the drummer for a band called Attack).

The only other 80s slasher flick from Sweden I'm aware of is Blood Tracks (1985), which strangely also involves a hair rock band stranded in the middle of nowhere. Aside from torrents (some of which have English fan-subs), this is only available in its home country. The director used his magazine to promote it.


Naked Witch, The (1961)

Directed by:
Claude Alexander
Larry Buchanan

There were two different "adult's only" films titled The Naked Witch making the exploitation rounds in the 60s. The first was this very-low-budget effort shot in Texas (as early as 1957 [says IMDb] or as late as 1961 [the credits copyright]), which marked the genre debut of the usually-awful Larry Buchanan (who shares credit with producer Claude Alexander). The poster promised nudity (i.e. "an ADULT picture") and proclaimed it "The Strangest Story Ever Told!" Well, we'll see about that here in a minute. The other Naked Witch was an equally-cheap production filmed in Staten Island in 1964, which marked the genre debut of Andy Milligan, whose reputation for quality films rests in about the same gutter as Buchanan's. Milligan's movie was released as is in 1964, but was reissued three years later with 20 minutes of newly-added soft-core sex footage under the title The Naked Temptress and with the great new tagline "She made Fanny Hill seem as innocent as Mary Poppins!" Personally, I'd choose to watch a Milligan movie over a Buchanan movie any day of the week, so it figures that no known prints of Milligan's movie are still in existence while Buchanan's is an easy to find public domain title.

Running just short of an hour, The Naked Witch opens with 10 solid minutes of filler describing what a witch is ("They could turn their victims' minds into nightmares of hell!"), what a black mass is ("The most depraved orgies of filth and obscenity conceivable to the human mind!") and then a brief history of witches starting back in the Dark Ages. Gary Owens (later of Laugh-In fame) narrates as we get to see lots of (admittedly cool) old paintings of witches from "the great master artists." This is followed by a Shakespeare quote ("This is the very witching time of night when churchyards yawn and hell itself gives out contagion to this world") and then we're off... Well, to more narration as our whiny, droning clod of a hero (Robert Short) drives through the country. Known only as "The Student," he's writing a thesis on the early German settlers in Texas and goes to the small, isolated village of Luckenbach during their annual singing festival. Luckenbach has held onto its traditional Germanic roots over the years and is a simple farming village seemingly trapped in time.

The Student soon meets Kirska Schoennig (Jo Maryman), a young blonde who agrees to put him up at her parents' inn while he's in town. The older locals, including Kirska's father Hans, refuse to help and hush up any time the word "witchcraft" is uttered, but Kirska sneaks him a book about the early settlers in the area so he can brush up on the local legend of "The Luckenbach Witch." Over a hundred years earlier, a widow (Libby Hall, also in Buchanan's Common Law Wife [1963]) was betrayed by her married lover Otto Schoennig, who proclaimed her a witch and had a stake driven through her heart. She was buried in an unmarked, shallow grave but not before proclaiming that she'll be back to avenge herself on the Schoennig family. The Student finds her grave, digs it up and discovers the widow's mummified corpse. He removes the stake from her heart and then runs back to the inn afterward. The Widow regenerates and then sets about getting her revenge by stabbing victims through the heart with the same stake she had driven into hers.

So let's go ahead and cut to the chase. No one who's going to watch this really cares all that much about the story. The real question is: Just how naked does the witch get? And the answer is: Not very. Though she emerges from her grave in the nude and makes a dash for the inn in the nude, it's too dark and shot at such a long distance you can't even really make anything out. She actually shows more of what she's got later on during a moonlight swim in a pond, though again the lighting is dark. During one sequence where she threatens to go full frontal, a thick black smudge line was added to the film to conceal her naughty bits. Other than that she runs around in a black, torn negligee that she stole off of Kirska. Despite having not seen the film, I can almost say with certainty that Milligan's effort probably delivered more of what audiences wanted to see back in the day.

Buchanan would continue to make low-budget films throughout the next three decades; mostly trial movies, monster movies and conspiracy movies. I've yet to see anything by him I'd deem good. S.F. Brownrigg gets a credit for sound. Something Weird offers this on DVD, where it's paired with Crypt of Dark Secrets (1976).

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