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Trimark Pictures presents
Blood Surf (2000)

"That thing's gonna eat us."
- Jeremy (Joel West)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 02, 2001

Stars: Duncan Regehr, Dax Miller, Katie Fischer
Other Stars: Matt Borlenghi, Joel West, Taryn Reif
Director: James D.R. Hickox

MPAA Rating: R for For some strong sexuality, language and gory images
Run Time: 01h:27m:49s
Release Date: June 26, 2001
UPC: 031398766629
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- C-B-D+ C+

DVD Review

I love a good B-movie as much as the next guy. Born and raised in the dark ages before cable and VHS, I absorbed all the tacky, trashy horror movies that featured just about every type of oversized creeping, crawling, swimming or flying beastie that Hollywood could imagine. I sat through the good, the bad and the mediocre. There was, and still is for me, a certain charm to the older films, especially the 1950s' black and white classics like Attack Of The Giant Leeches and Them!. I don't know why my nostalgic, beer-addled brain can still appreciate a low budget treat like Attack Of The Killer Shrews, but balk at the likes of newer films like Blood Surf.

Blood Surf, also known as Krocodylus in some parts of the world, is a true B-movie, and I love it for that. But it suffers the terrible fate of being released in the year 2001, when technological advancements in filmmaking and special effects over the past 20+ years have jaded even the most casual viewer, so that anything less than perfect is laughable. A lot of modern B-movies, like Blood Surf, don't always look like a low budget production of the 1950s, but the cheapo effects stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Blood Surf is full of them. Too bad.

This is the umpteenth variation on Jaws, and unlike the excellent Anaconda, Blood Surf fails. This time it's a 31-foot, 3,000 pound salt water crocodile that lurks in the waters near the tropical Palm Island, supposedly off the Australian coast (the film was actually shot in the Philippines). Blood Surf even attempts a hip, wink at the audience, ScreamŮlike reference to the movie Jaws during an early scene, as the characters discuss Spielberg's shark flick. I took that as a good omen, but I guess I need to brush up on my omen reading skills.

The storyline is pretty basic, and just a thinly veiled setup for most of the cast to get eaten. Some type of Žextreme sports' show is set to film the new sport of Žblood surfing', which as far as I could tell involves surfing through shark-infested, chum-filled waters. Surfers Bog (Dax Miller) and Jeremy (Joel West), a couple of typical California surfer dudes, are flown in to do some Žblood surfing', along with the sports show production team of Cecily (Katie Fischer— who seems to double as the cameraperson and/or host —it's never made too clear) and the show's moronic producer/director Zack (Matt Borlenghi).

During the thankfully brief 87-minute run time, Blood Surf borrows liberally from the Jaws playbook. Not only are there quite a few sharks, but included in the mess are such borrowed ideas as:
- a mangled corpse that pops out of a sunken wreck
- the standard Žunseen beast destroying a pier while main characters just miss being eaten' scene
- the Žbobbing heads of swimmers as they are getting attacked from belowŽ scene
- the beast that leaps onto a boat to eat a character or two
- the crusty, Quint-like character with the dilapidated boat.

In Blood Surf, it's crusty Aussie John Dirks (Duncan Regehr) who has the Quint role. He's a hard-drinking, scruffy guy obsessed with killing the big croc, or as he calls him: "Salty." It seems that Dirks had an ill-fated encounter years back with Salty, and he hasn't been the same since.

The creature effects vary from ok (animatronic) to horrible (low budget CG animation). The full body of the croc has very little screen time, and in hindsight, it's for the better. The animatronic head shots work pretty well is small doses. I'm sure the effects budget was maxed out for this, but it just wasn't enough dough to make a really scary giant crocodile, which is all Blood Surf has going for it. Without a threatening lead beast, the film has nowhere to go but downhill.

The addition of some pirates (yes, pirates) midpoint only serves to replenish the buffet for Salty, and to pad the film's threadbare run time. A couple of fairly heavy-duty, gratuitous sex scenes are obviously inserted to fill some holes in the gaping absence of a plot. In a bizarre touch, one of the more intense sex romps is intercut with a scene of the girl's parents being eaten by Salty. Weird.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Pretty decent transfer, especially considering being a low-budget flick. Colors are bright during the daylight beach scenes, and the black levels play surprisingly well overall during the extensive night shots. Minimal edge enhancement degradation. All in all, a nice transfer of a really bad movie.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: 5.1? You're kidding me, right? It's the only audio option on the menu, so it must be. Only you'd never it know by listening. A lackluster mix that makes little use of the rear channels, except for the decent creaking boat effects near the film's final half hour. Dialogue is always clear, though any type of imaging and/or placement is virtually nil. < BR>
Occasionally some type of digital production glitch would cause the dialogue to echo and reverb as if the actors were speaking in a large, empty room. Kind of distracting.

Minor brownie points for a cool surf guitar theme.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus Footage Ů about a seven minute hodge podge of behind-the-scenes shots. No narration, occasionally no sound at all. Included are a couple of quick shots showing the technicians working the animatronic croc head. My favorite moment is the setup for one of the female characters death scene. A production assistant fills the woman's mouth with fake blood, almost gagging her. Meanwhile, as she starts to almost gag, you can hear the director giving the command to start shooting. Suddenly, some offscreen voice shouts "The actress is not ready!".

    Ok, I guess you had to be there. But I bet Laurence Olivier never gagged on stage blood.
Extras Review: Sure, the extras are a bit thin, but if the bonus footage had been a little more extensive, that could have been a real plus. It was kind of fun to see the behind the camera stuff, despite it's brevity. The storyboard comparison was a pleasant surprise on a release like this, though not incredibly enlightening.

I'm a firm believer in director commentary on low-budget horror movies, and Blood Surf could really have used one, I'll bet. I can dream, can't I?

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Even for a B-movie fan, Blood Surf is a tough sell. The day I can't eagerly recommend a horror movie with gratuitous nudity is a sad day indeed. But that day has come. Ouch.


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