Baby Blood (US - DVD R1)
Gabe won't be trusting any more busty, buck-toothed women after this one...
A voracious parasite from the dawn of creation, surviving centuries in search of the one thing it needs: To be born of a human. After a very long wait (either 3,000 years or about 3.5 billion years, depending on your preference) this cunning creature slithers inside the uterus of unsuspecting and voluptuous Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou), a circus performer with the worst case of gapped buckteeth in cinematic history. The new womb-raider demands gallons of fresh blood to grow stronger. Now this reluctantly expectant mommy and her chatty mutant fetus are off on a cross-country killing spree where pre-natal care means violent carnage, horny men make tasty meals, and the ultimate mother’s milk is BABY BLOOD!
I took most of that synopsis from Anchor Bay's press release. It was too funny to pass up. Baby Blood, known on US video as The Evil Within is an unquestionably eccentric little movie. It's also an unquestionably gory one, but that isn't necessarily its main selling point, contrary to popular belief. The thing that makes Baby Blood so weird may be the fact that it's a French B-film masquerading as an '80s Roger Corman production. What makes the film special is that it doesn't seem to get the standard B-horror formula. Either it's a work of special happenstance, or writer/director Alain Robak is some kind of semi-surrealist genius.
The synopsis reads as a bit of a Rosemary's Baby/ Shivers rip-off, but the heart of the film, the parasite’s relationship with its host, is somehow reminiscent of John Carpenter's Star Man. I know, it sounds weird, but hear me out – it's a road movie starring an alien hiding in a human shell. The parasite speaks to Yanka in her subconscious, and though he wants her to drink the blood of strangers, a slight bone of contention in their early relationship, he also wants to understand humanity. He gains this understanding by asking Yanka questions about her feelings, both physical and emotional. This alone sets the film apart from other Euro-gore quickies.
I'd seen the film on VHS back in college, and the parts that stuck with me were not the violent murders, but these little existential mother/son discussions (though the version I saw was the edited for content US release). Even as we watch Yanka and her brood commit graphic atrocities against generally appealing characters, we can't help but like both of them, and understand their budding affection for each other. As in Peter Jackson's zombie splatter-fest Braindead, there's real and believable (if not entirely twisted) love amongst the carnage.
The other bizarre touch that makes the flick worth seeing is its scope. This probably the most epic 84 minute B-movie ever made. The runtime encompasses the entire pregnancy, from conception to birth, and our heroes globetrot all the way across France. Yanka (despite her massive teeth) actually develops as a character throughout. There's no fat to trim, and the in-betweens are entirely unnecessary. Do we need to know how Yanka got her waitressing job, or how many people she killed entirely? No. I almost dare calling this structure perfect. Almost. This is, after all, still a film about a bloodthirsty, in utero creature from the beginning of time. We can't praise it too much, right?
Anchor Bay's done an admirable job with what I'm going to assume were not the best materials. The whole of the film is very grainy, but I only noticed a few artefacts or scratches. Colours are well produced and bright, and black levels are spot on. Details are sharpened a hair too much, causing some edge enhancement, and contrast probably could've been softened up a bit, but all in all this is a very good transfer from Anchor Bay.
Anchor Bay supplies us with Dolby Surround 2.0 versions of both the original French, and the dubbed English tracks. I'm going to possibly enrage the purists out there by calling the English dub superior. With the exception of one character, most audiences aren't going to even notice the film is dubbed, and the English-speaking actress that dubs Yanka is a better actress than Emmanuelle Escourrou. The real reason I recommend the dub is the baby's voice. In the French version he sounds like a baby, in the English version he's voiced almost sensually by a full-grown man. It makes for a more interesting character.
The DVD sounds great, and the stereo channels actually get a pretty mean work out. The African tribal drum based theme even finds time for the surround channels, and the sub-woofer throbs quite a bit for a non-discrete channel. If you do opt for the English dub, be aware that there are a few scenes that were cut from the US release, and thus never dubbed. During these scenes the dialogue reverts to French, and the subtitles will automatically switch on, like Anchor Bay did on its releases of Argento's Deep Red and Phenomena. These sections show the improved fidelity of the English dub over the French dub.
Erm, there's a trailer. It's a funny trailer...
Good fun for gore-hounds, and anyone looking for something a little different from the Hollywood norm. I remembered liking the film when I rented it some 8 years ago, but've ended up almost loving it upon a second, and entirely uncut viewing. Kudos to Anchor Bay for a fine A/V presentation, shame for not including any extras. Maybe next time, right? At least it's uncut.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 10th October 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: French Dolby Surround 2.o, English Dolby Surround 2.0
Easter Egg: No
Director: Alain Robak
Cast: Emmanuelle Escourrou, François Frappier, Christian Sinniger, Jean-François Gallotte,
Length: 84 minutes
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