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BLOOD TIDE  *

 Directed by Richard Jefferies.

Starring James Earl Jones, José Ferrer, Deborah Shelton, Martin Kove, Lydia Cornell, Mary Louise Weller.
Horror/Adventure, UK/Greece, 87 mins, cert 15.

Released in the UK on Blu-ray by Arrow video on 25th May 2020.

 

As a sort of companion piece to their release of Nico Mastorakis's THE WIND last month, Arrow Video have put together a Blu-ray release for BLOOD TIDE, a 1982 horror thriller also set on a Greek island and written by Mastorakis. Featuring a cast of award-winning actors, an idyllic Greek island setting and a story about sacrificing virgins to appease a sea creature, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Well, quite a bit really. Much like THE WIND, BLOOD TIDE has all the ingredients but in transitioning the script from the page to the screen something has gotten lost. In the case of THE WIND there were too many questions raised by nonsensical plot decisions but here the plot is fairly straightforward. However, BLOOD TIDE commits the biggest crime of all by being so painfully dull, setting up what should have been an exciting, swashbuckling adventure with our main characters fighting off a deadly monster from the depths but instead what we have is a handful of characters, none of whom taking the mantle of ‘hero’ or even ‘lead’ and letting them talk nonsense for nearly an hour before anything remotely interesting happens, and for an 87-minute movie that doesn’t leave a lot of room to show off your half-finished puppet monster.

 

Not that bad creature effects normally take the edge off a movie with this sort of premise but the writing in BLOOD TIDE is so stodgy and full of underdeveloped characters played by actors who should be chewing the scenery to help move things along but mostly don’t seem to be fully invested in what they are saying. That said, James Earl Jones makes a fairly decent fist of what he is given to do with his character Frye but for the first half of the film he spends it in a drunken haze, shouting at his girlfriend Barbara (Lydia Cornell) and quoting Othello with his magnificent voice (he also punches a watermelon rather than use a knife which, granted, is a character quirk you don’t see very often) but he is never heroic or somebody you can get behind, even when tragedy strikes. A lot of his screen time is shared with Martin Kove as Neil Grice, a newlywed searching the Greek island for his missing sister Madeline (Deborah Shelton), and Kove plays Grice as a sort of prototype version of BAYWATCH era David Hasselhoff, all open shirts and bouffant hair but, again, there are no heroics or sense of the leading man about his character and so there is nobody to get behind.

 

With this plot basically being THE WICKER MAN on a Greek island there are, of course, the hostile locals to come up against and Neil and his wife Sherry (Mary Louise Weller) do meet Mayor Nereus (José Ferrer), who seems to be very quick to usher them off the island after denying that he has ever seen Madeline, and although Ferrer plays angry-local-with-something-to-hide very well he never fills the screen like you want him to and the Mayor never really becomes the central figure that he really should have been.

 

Overall, BLOOD TIDE is a slow and extremely disappointing movie considering the talent involved. Despite this being the only theatrical movie that Richard Jefferies directed, the involvement of Nico Mastorakis and Brian Trenchard-Smith (TURKEY SHOOT/THE MAN FROM HONG KONG) as writer and co-producer respectively, and actors the calibre of James Earl Jones, Martin Kove and José Ferrer, should have ensured that this simple B-movie plot had some oomph about it, whether it be dynamic serious acting or a total wink-at-the-camera laugh-fest but it fails to fall into either category and just becomes a monotonous plod to eventually look at a plastic dragon underwater, and by the time you get to that point of the movie you don’t feel like laughing, regardless of how ridiculous it all looks. Still, as with THE WIND, the scenery is stunning and the filmmakers do capture the sense of isolation that the setting offers. It’s just a shame that is all BLOOD TIDE really has going for it.

 

Chris Ward.

 

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