I let last week be an easy one on me. Start off delicate and ease into things with the help of Mystery Science Theater 3000. That is not at all what I will be doing this week. Oh no. This week’s film I had watch all alone – 1987’s Blood Hook. This campy slasher was directed by James (Jim) Mallon and key grip by Kevin Murphy.
Ok so Murphy and Mallon would later go on to be writers for MST3K, but we will only briefly count that as cheating. This was the only thing that Mallon directed before he went on to create the show with Murphy and Joel Hodgson. What is the product like for these young men? Well, Blood Hook is a movie that has one beautifully literal title. A murderer goes on a rampage killer people with a hook from a fishing pole.
Oh we went there, Wisconsin.
The film opens with a young boy spending time with his grandfather at a lakeside cabin. Summer and fishing is a sweet and familiar memory for many people. Only probably not many people watch their grandfather bite the big one in front of them when he falls into the lake and drowns. Old Gramps seems to have heard a terrible sound that causes him to tip forward into the waters, never to emerge again.
Flash forward 17 years and rural Wisconsin is looking great! Everyone is heading north: teenagers and terrible families alike. After hearing people attempt a Northern accent, it’s pretty great to hear things that sound totally authentic like the “Ooooooh ya!”s and “Remember, the lake’s not a playground.” But of course when the harbinger of doom shows up to give the latter warning to a visiting family, the blow off his warnings. Foreshadowing with the best of them.
It turns out the crowds are gathering in Hayward, where the Muskie Madness fishing contest is being held. There is even a giant muskie statue that is completely real, I shit you not.
“Hey, I like your pole.”
A group of young kids arrive, promising fisherman ‘Finner’ among them. The rest of the lot are make up of the dreaded people from Illinois! They are all staying at a cabin where they are introduced to some of the local crazies. Or as I like to call them: Wisconsinites. Turns out the cabin belongs to Peter van Cleese (played by
Jonathan Richman Mark Jacobs), the boy who watched his grandfather die all those years ago.
It isn’t long before the first victim is tackled (ha ha). The loon-crazy mother from the camper van is literally hooked and killed. The notion of the killer attacking with a fishing pole is actually pretty hilarious if you allow yourself to laugh at it. While the death scenes aren’t always really graphic, just imagining being dragged hook, line and sinker seems to be pretty uncomfortable. Since everyone in this film is pretty terrible, it is quite enjoyable to watch them get picked off one by one in an increasingly bizarre manner.
From there the plot pretty much continues by the slasher movie formula: death, plot build, death, police don’t believe anyone, death.
There is also a strange sub-plot involving music that makes people go crazy. It’s the sound of nature, with the cicadas combining with other forces to create the devil’s tritone. Or perhaps it’s vibrations related to ‘the war’. This is a pretty weak motive, admittedly. Though it is pretty fun that the killer is just doing this just because they’re nuts.
Now Blood Hook isn’t mind-blowing, but it can be pretty fun. It’s clear that the better work for Mallon was yet to come, but there are so many glimers of greatness here. Though sometimes this humour is a bit subtle. They keep making total crap jokes, but I have to assume it was on purpose because no one writes a script that says “something’s fishy around here” at a fishing competition without a hint of irony attached.
The final third really has some good bits – especially in that dialogue. The girlfriend seems completely resigned to being murdered, and her boyfriend hardly seems convinced he wants to save her. He actually sits in the boat all night totally unwilling to go and save the day. But let’s just say the final face-off is pretty damn hilarious.
Blood Hook was at its best when it’s at its silliest. This is definitely one of the weirdest premises for a slasher film, but it is done pretty enjoyably here. This is definitely a film that will strike a chord with some and not others. If you value humour and originality with your slasher cheese, this is definitely a movie to check out.