Directed by Bill Rebane [Other horror films: Monster a Go-Go (1965), Invasion from Inner Earth (1974), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), The Alpha Incident (1978), The Capture of Bigfoot (1979), Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake (1980), The Demons of Ludlow (1983), The Game (1984)]
It’s been some years since I’ve last seen this one, and though I enjoyed the film the first time around, I’d be lying if I said that I remembered a lot about it, because I didn’t. Aside from Tiny Tim’s presence and a few scenes revolving around him, I went into this without too many memories, which probably helped a bit with the enjoyment factor.
Obviously Blood Harvest is far from perfect, and it may ultimately wind up around average, if not below, but Tiny Tim (who is a singer most known for his falsetto voice and such hits as “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” and “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”) gives a fantastically emotional performance as he plays a mentally-handicapped man who recently lost his parents and is deeply struggling with it. Some of his antics might seem a bit much, but from the scene of him singing and sobbing in the church, I was hooked. An odd, but great, performance.
Aside from Tiny Tim, though, much of the movie comes across as a bit pedestrian. They throw in some occasionally interesting elements, such as the local farmers being unhappy with someone due to the bank’s recent foreclosures, so much so they vandalize the house of the bank’s spokesperson, and certainly there were creepy moments when someone drugged the main character, played by Itonia Salchek, and then stripped her naked to take pictures of her, because that’s the type of stand-up guys we need in the world.
As far as Salchek goes, this was her sole movie, and amusingly, her IMDb profile states that, to this day, “people are still trying to find or find out what happened to her.” I don’t know if it’s as serious as all that (the profile also says that after filming this movie, she either “disappeared or died” which seems dramatic to me). Regardless of what happened with her, Salchek gives a decent performance, and is no stranger to providing some quality nudity, so kudos for that.
I’ve already mentioned that Tiny Tim is the best performance here, but I’ll reiterate that I really felt an emotional punch at times throughout the movie due to him. He may look silly with clown make-up on, and his “Gary and Jill went up the hill” song that pops up here and there, but what a performance. The sheriff, played by Frank Benson, was occasionally amusing, and while Lori Minnetti (who was also in the odd 1984 film The Game, or The Cold) didn’t add a lot, I did like her appearances on-screen. Dean West didn’t really leave an impression either way.
None of the kills here are stellar, but I do sort of enjoy that oppressive mystery that surrounds Itonia Salchek’s Jill – she gets back home, but her parents are missing, and with no way to contact them, she’s just sort of lost. What’s even creepier is that some of the action is taking place at a barn pretty close to home, and yet she’s not aware of it. The violence here was certainly okay, but I think the mystery is probably the moderately more interesting aspect (aside from the fact that most of the red herrings fail pretty miserably).
Sometimes it can feel like not that much is happening, though, and in that aspect, I think Blood Harvest fails to fully engage the audience (which is a bit of a shame, because the director Bill Rebane also directed The Demons of Ludlow, from 1983, which, despite it’s current 3.4/10 rating on IMDb, is a pretty fun movie), and though the movie is by no means long, I do think it drags at parts.
None of this is to say the movie is bad. For a late 80’s slasher, it can provide an okay time, and though there are plenty of others I’d prefer to watch, such as Iced, Moonstalker, or Intruder, I could see myself watching this one again, even though I find it a little lacking.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Blood Harvest.