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Blood Tide Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Blood Tide Large

Directed by Richard Jeffries
Written by Richard Jeffries and Nico Mastorakis
1982, 87 minutes, Rated R
Released on May 26th, 2020

Starring:
James Earl Jones as Frye
José Ferrer as Nereus
Lila Kedrova as Sister Anna
Mary-Louise Weller as Sherry Grice
Martin Kove as Neil Grice
Lydia Cornell as Barbara
Deborah Shelton as Madeline Grice

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Review:

Newlyweds Neil and Sherry Grice travel to the island Synoron looking for his sister Madeline. She is an artist and something of a free spirit but has recently gone missing. The villagers are standoffish, led by the imposing Nereus, who doesn’t trust outsiders. He claims to have never seen the lady, but Neil catches a glimpse of her outside and chases her to a home where he finds her with a grumpy treasure hunter named Frye. There’s something not right about Madeline; she seems distant and there is obvious tension between her and Frye. During the encounter, Frye’s girlfriend Barbara shows up. She is his polar opposite in personality: bubbly, ditzy and always looking for a good time.

Frye has discovered an underwater cave that he has decked out as his private space when people annoy him. He uses explosives to open a sealed chamber and a creeping mist emerges. The next day a village girl goes missing and the locals place a ban on all boating activity. There is talk of an ancient sea monster and a ceremony of virgin sacrifice to appease it. Madeline works with the nuns at the church studying religious iconography in paintings. The island is split between those who are Catholics and others who worship pagan gods; both groups are deeply spiritual and superstitious. As it turns out, the sea monster is indeed claiming victims and Madeline is susceptible to its calling. Neil struggles to protect his sister and bride and get them the hell off this island, but it may be too late.

In the age of the slasher film, with countless masked psychopaths hunting down horny teenagers, the occasional exception is a welcome addition. Blood Tide (aka Bloodtide) falls more in line with the “Innocents Abroad” subgenre of Americans leaving the country and being faced with an unexpected terror. The film is set in Greece and makes great use of its ancient city locations and bright sunny beaches. The premise is pretty flimsy, characters are thin and the religious dynamics are woefully under-explored. Most damaging, the sea monster appears only in brief flashes for a total of roughly forty-five seconds of screen time and even then looks hokey.

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Director Richard Jeffries (who went on to write Scarecrows) co-wrote the screenplay with producer Nico Matorakis (Island of Death) and the results are lacking. Dialogue scenes tend to ramble on without impact and the film takes its time getting to any bloodshed. Where they succeed is in building an uneasy atmosphere of suspicion and dread. The legend of the monster is vague except to say it is ancient and the only way to stop its killing cycle is by willing virgin sacrifice. One of the more disturbing sequences features a group of children “playing sacrifice” atop a seaside cliff.

James Earl Jones (Exorcist II: The Heretic) stars as the ill-tempered Frye and fills the character with simmering volatility. He is the highlight of this picture and dominates every scene he is in. His performance is broader than usual, but he appears to be having fun with the role. Adding additional marquee value is José Ferrer (Bloody Birthday) as Nereus and Lila Kedrova (The Tenant) as Sister Anna, who bring much needed gravitas to the film. Playing against type is Martin Kove (Death Race 2000) as Neil, the good guy trying to save his sister. Kove has made a career out of playing jerks, most memorably in the Karate Kid films, and it is nice to see him play someone decent. Mary-Louise Weller (Q: The Winged Serpent) co-stars as Neil’s wife Sherry and is the most grounded person in the film. Linda Cornell (Too Close for Comfort) provides eye candy and a touch of comic relief as Barbara, who has great chemistry opposite Jones. The beautiful Deborah Shelton (Body Double) shines as the troubled Madeline, bringing a sense of mystery to the story.

Blood Tide spent most of its life in public domain prison, relegated to countless discount bargain bins, usually lumped into collections of a dozen or more other titles for less than ten dollars. The film has fallen into relative obscurity and seeing it now it remains largely unremarkable. James Earl Jones gives a dedicated performance that keeps things lively, but there is no doubt this film ranks rather low in his storied career. It’s nice that another horror title has been rescued from obscurity, but I recommend catching this one streaming before committing to a purchase.

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Video and Audio:

Arrow Video does another remarkable job with its 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is light years ahead of all previous home video releases. Colors pop off the screen and image detail is sharp, particularly in hair and fibers. Black levels are deep and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 gets the job done with clear and understandable dialogue and well-balanced music cues that don’t intrude. The mono track has been remastered and is free from hiss, pops or other forms of distortion.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

The always-welcome DVD producer Michael Felsher moderates a highly informative and entertaining audio commentary with director/co-writer Richard Jefferies. This is a frank discussion that addresses the many challenges Jeffries faced when dealing with the producers. He talks about the writing sessions and casting process and has some interesting stories about the crew. As it turns out, he was shut out of the editing room and has many reservations about the finished picture.

A newly-filmed interview with producer/co-writer Nico Mastorakis titled Swept by the Tide (29 minutes) allows for some reflection on a career that spans decades. He talks about his success within the film and television industry across multiple genres. There are several fun anecdotes from both Blood Tide and the infamous Island of Death. The best stories involve his experiences with the Hollywood studio system.

A pair of spoiler-heavy trailers are included, one from 1982’s theatrical release and a new 2020 spot marking the film’s Blu-ray debut.

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Grades:

Movie: Twostars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Cover
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Twoandahalfstars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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