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Blood Beach


Title: Blood Beach
Year Of Release: 1980
Running Time: 92 minutes
DVD Released By: N/A
Directed By: Jeffrey Bloom
Writing Credits: Jeffrey Bloom (screenplay), Jeffrey Bloom and Steven Nalevansky (story)

Starring:
David Huffman, Marianna Hill, Burt Young, John Saxon
Taglines:
1. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - you can't get to it.
2.
...where the water may be the safest place to be!
3.
The five people believed to have drowned here never even made it past the sand!
4.
It's a nice place to visit, but you don't want to die there.
5.
The California coast, playground of America, until something deep beneath the sand turned it into Blood Beach.
Alternate Titles:
None Found

Review Date: 1.1.21

Shadow's Title: "Dud Beach"

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If only this film really was available
on DVD or Blu-ray. So far there
has been no legitimate release outside of a
an old American VHS or a
German DVD.
Good luck finding those.
However...

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Characters
Harry Caulder – An ex-Navy sailor who now works for the harbor patrol in a southern California community that may or may not be Santa Monica. He lives right there near the beach and actually swims to work! People begin vanishing on the beach right under his nose, including his next-door neighbor and his stewardess girlfriend. Lucky for him his ex-fiancé has arrived back in town in time for them to rekindle their romance.
Ruth Hutton – She lives next to Harry with her dog Piper. She is the first victim, pulled down into the sand by some unseen force as her dog watches. Her daughter Catherine then returns to town and takes up residence in her house while the search is conducted for her. Her dog continually digs at the place where she disappeared, until it too is a victim of the monster. Poor doggy. And yeah, that was about the best shot of her I could get.
Catherine "Cat" Hutton – Ruth’s daughter and Harry’s former fiancé. “Cat” moved away to San Francisco seven years earlier despite Harry not wanting her to go and eventually married someone else. Now she’s back in town, heading for divorce and free to rekindle their relationship. Alas, Harry has a hot girlfriend named Marie who works as a stewardess. If only she wasn’t around…
Marie – This is Harry’s hot blonde stewardess girlfriend, who after a sex session early in the film, leaves for a flight to Europe, opening up an opportunity for Cat to get close to Harry again. When she returns, she gets gobbled up by the monster before she can even let Harry know that she’s back. Figuring that he’s been dumped, he cozies back up to Cat.
Hoagy – He works with Harry at the harbor patrol and fancies himself a singer and musician, which explains why he was onstage singing and playing keyboards at a club one night. Poor Hoagy makes the mistake of standing too long in one spot while talking to Mrs. Seldon and gets pulled into the sand. He puts up one hell of a fight to stay alive, but in the end he gets pulled down faster than a pair of pants at a two dollar whorehouse.
Sargent Royko – This guy had to have transferred from Chicago very recently because he spends the entire movie complaining about how poorly he thinks things are done in southern California compared to Chicago. A man with little imagination, he’s the type that thinks the obvious answer must be the correct one and this single-mindedness leads to big trouble in the end. Sometimes I think he and the actor playing Piantadosi should have swapped roles.
Lieutenant Piantadosi – Does this guy look Italian to you? Someone even asks him during the movie if he was Italian and he says yes. So maybe grandpappy or grandma were from the old country after all. He rides herd over Royko, telling the other cop to shut up when he starts going off on one of his “in Chicago” rants. He should busted out with a “In Italy, your sorry ass would have been whacked by now” to really shut him up.
Captain Pearson – The late genre veteran John Saxon! He’s the one who has to bear all the pressure of getting the case solved and after dealing with missing people, Royko’s constant comparisons to Chicago, Dimitrios’ wild, inconclusive imaginings, the city council’s resident karen, a dog without a head and a man without a dick, he at one point asks out loud what we’re all wondering, “what did I do to deserve this?”
Dr. Dimitrios – What he is a doctor of exactly is unknown. What is known is that the police consult with him when it comes to Piper the headless dog and when the killer increasingly looks like some sort of previously unseen animal, so I guess he was some sort of zoologist/biologist. Of course given his look and demeanor as well as his espoused theories and one could make the case that he was just another crazy homeless person.
Mrs. Seldon – A homeless person who calls the beach home. It appears that she’s taken up squatting in the old, abandoned and dilapidated merry-go-round building on a crumbling pier. She spends most of her time scavenging and annoying the main characters with her confrontational antics or standing by doing nothing while they get pulled to their deaths. To my great disappointment, she was NOT one of the people eaten by the monster.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Baywatch Nights: The MovieWe see the Santa Monica beach at dawn. The camera pans around then moves under some dilapidated docks and boardwalk areas to show us the detritus that accumulates in the shadows below. We get our title and credits as all this unfolds. After numerous shots of the underside of the boardwalk, making me wonder if perhaps I had put on some architectural show by mistake, we finally move to a beachfront home were harbor patrol leader Harry Caulder resides. I didn’t realize that the harbor patrol paid so well, because you just know that whether he’s renting or buying, that place ain’t cheap. Then again, Mitch Buchannon seemed to do okay all those years.

Harry emerges from his place and walks the ten whole steps it requires to get to the beach. Talk about an easy commute! Is dog shit on the sidewalk considered a road obstruction? As he walks across the sizable stretch of sand between his place and the water, he greets his neighbor, Ruth Hutton, an older woman who is out with her small dog, Piper. Harry makes his way out into the water for the morning swim to work. Ruth is prancing along the sand with her dog. As she walks along she suddenly stops. Something under the sand has grabbed her feet and is now pulling her down into the soil. Piper runs around and barks like crazy as she screams for help. Oddly enough, we see a car in the distance behind her that is moving her way, but I guess they don’t see anything. By the time she’s up to her waist in sand she calls out to Harry, who is still enjoying his swim. He hears her and looks around in puzzlement. By now she’s almost totally gone and with a couple last screams, she vanishes beneath the sand, her dog still barking. We hear the roar of some beast as her head and arms are pulled below, which makes me wonder how any creature can roar when it’s buried in sand.

Later in the day, the beach is filled with people, including Mrs. Seldon, a homeless woman who calls the place home. We see her pushing the “homeless person starter kit” which is comprised of a pilfered shopping cart from the local grocery store and a shit ton of useless items crammed into said cart, such as dirty clothes, assorted handbags and boxes files with mystery items. Nearby, at a boardwalk kiosk called Moose’s Galley, we see Harry talking with police Sargent Royko and Lieutenant Piantadosi as well as the eponymous Moose, who looks less cervine and more bovine given how many chins he/she is sporting. While enjoying Moose’s fare (whatever in hell that may be, donuts I suppose from the looks of it) Royko complains about the difference in the way things are done here as opposed to Chicago. I’m not sure anyone even knows what he is talking about. Anyway, the cops are there because Harry called them after hearing Ruth screaming. Since there is no sign of her, the cops wonder whether she took off for the day or that the scream Harry heard came from some other source. Moose chimes in now and says that Ruth would not have gone anywhere without her dog. You know, at this point, after hearing Moose speak, I’m not sure if Moose is male or female. I don’t want to be accused of misgendering someone in today’s age of fragile sensibilities. The cops are inclined to do nothing more at this point, but Harry wants them to keep looking.

Later, Ruth’s daughter Catherine arrives at the harbor patrol station to pick up her mother’s dog. It seems in times past Harry and “Cat” were an item and almost got married. Harry and Cat head outside and have that awkward conversation between former lovers where they pretend to catch up with one another, but neither seems too interested in it. She finally asks him what he saw concerning her mother and he admits that he saw nothing, only heard her scream. He explains he was swimming and hurried back to shore to find the dog Piper barking but no sign of her mother. The dog didn’t want to leave the beach. Cat says she will take Piper back to San Francisco with her when she leaves, but she does not plan on doing that until she finds her mother. Harry wants her to be prepared for the possibility of her mother being dead, just as I am preparing for the possibility of this movie going off the rails into Boringville.

Later, Cat is walking along the beach with Piper, when she is approached by Mrs. Seldon. Cat remembers her from when she used to live here, which goes to show you that Mrs. Seldon has called the area home for some time. Seldon asks what the police had to say about her mother’s disappearance and Cat says that they don’t know anything. Seldon says that the cops are lying and that her mother was raped and murdered and if Cat doesn’t go back home, she’ll be next. Mrs. Seldon then pushes her cart away, repeatedly telling Cat to remember just who it was that warned her. As Cat stands there in confusion, we see the dog digging in the sand nearby.

That night Harry is at home with his girlfriend, Marie, so I guess he long ago got over whatever happened between him and Cat. Marie is a flight stewardess…or as the more PC crowd would insist on calling them these days: flight attendant. She has to leave early in the morning for her next flight to London and then Paris, but will be back on Thursday. Harry seems lost in thought, and he admits he is worried about Ruth, who he says he knew a long time. I guess he’s not stupid enough to tell Marie that he almost married Ruth’s daughter Catherine and that Cat is currently in residence at her mother’s place until Ruth’s fate is known. There’s some more playful banter between the two of them and she gives him the come-hither look.

“Why are you just sitting there? I’m not just going to DO you. Get up and romance me, you caveman.”Over at Ruth’s place, Piper the dog somehow manages to get the front door open, either an indication that he’s a hell of a lot smarter than he appears, or that Cat is a lot dumber than she appears and failed to close the door properly. Given the choices, I’m gonna go with option number two. Piper runs straight out to the sand where Ruth vanished. We return to Harry sitting in bed, as if waiting for something. Marie enters and begins to disrobe. The movie now begins to bounce back and forth between Harry and Marie getting it on while Cat awakens next door and realizes the dog is gone. Piper is out lying on the sand. Behind him, we see a circular sinkhole forming, denoting the presence of whatever lurks below. After looking around the house for him, Cat ventures outside and sees the dog lying in the sand. It’s plenty dark outside, but whenever we see shots of Harry and Marie rolling around under the covers, there seems to be daylight streaming in through the windows. Piper begins barking at the sand and Cat walks out, calling his name. Eventually she walks up to the prone animal and discovers that the dog is now missing his head. She lets out the requisite scream at the sight.

The next day Harry and Cat are meeting with Royko, Piantadosi and Doctor Dimitrios, the latter of whom has performed an autopsy on Piper. However he has no answers other than that the dog was “brutally, savagely killed” and a hypothesis about the size of the killer and the nature of their keratinous finger growths. Dimitrios found no physical evidence pointing to a human killer and after a couple of insensitive statements from Royko, Piantadosi orders him to go wait in the car. When asked what the police are going to do, Piantadosi says that there isn’t anything they can do before he departs with Dimitrios. Harry then asks Cat if she wants to go for a ride.

Next we see the pair on a small harbor patrol boat out on the water. He recalls that the last time they were on that boat together was 1973, when he had just been discharged from the Navy and it was the day before she left for San Francisco. The two talk about that day and how he tried to dissuade her from moving. So the picture becomes more clear. It was she who left town, thus ending the relationship. What she was pursuing in the city by the bay is not known, but there was an earlier reference to some of her paintings. It makes me wonder, if he was so recently out of the navy, he could not have been working for the harbor patrol for very long. Why didn’t he go with her to San Francisco? It’s not like he had a career of his own that he’d invested years into, so why was he so adamant about staying? I wonder if she even wanted him to go with her.

The beach is full of people enjoying the outdoors. One group of young folks has buried their friend in the sand up to her neck in a time honored tradition of beach-going antics. As she lies there, talking with her friends, she lets out a sudden, “Ow!” That instantly escalates into a full on screaming fit as she claims something is grabbing at her feet. Her friends quickly uncover her as a sizable crowd gathers around. When she is freed from the sand – screaming the entire time like somebody shoved an open lighter in her butt – we see that while intact, her legs are covered with blood. Are we sure it was a monster responsible and not just a poorly timed visit to the beach coinciding with her monthly visitation from Aunt Flo?

Pow. We jump over to the police station where the cops, including Royko and Piantadosi are going over the facts of the Hutton case with Captain Pearson (played by the late John Saxon, who died just two days ago as of the time of this writing, but this won’t be posted until January of 2021). Pearson outlines how eighteen hours have passed since Ruth Hutton vanished, with still no clue as to what happened to her. He adds in the fate of her dog at the beach and then expounds upon what happened to the sixteen-year old girl and how her legs were mauled. Royko takes this opportunity to say that it would have never happened in Chicago. Pearson doesn’t take too kindly to that remark and threatens to boot Royko back to the windy city if he keeps saying things like that. He lists all the places and people that are putting pressure on him to solve the case, from the SPCA to the Mayor’s office and tells his men to dig deeper and see what they can find.

Night comes and we see a bunch of cops, along with Harry and his co-worker Hoagy from the harbor patrol, out digging up the beach with a backhoe. There’s even one guy running a Geiger counter over the sand just in case Godzilla was the culprit. Royko takes Piantadosi aside and says that rather than dig up the beach, they need to look into the closest office for the American Nazi party. The Lieutenant just laughs at this suggestion. We then get a couple shots of some abandoned, dilapidated areas with spooky music playing, though aside from the ratty scenery, we don’t really see anything.

The next morning arrives and Harry leaves his house for the commute swim. Cat is already out on the beach trail, sketchbook in hand. There is a brief exchange between them, and then Harry heads for the water. Mrs. Seldon comes around the corner, pushing her cart and no doubt smelling like her clothes were soaked in cat piss for a week. She tries to hand something to cat, which looks like a pet collar, but Cat refuses to take it and walks away. Elsewhere, a TV reporter interviews a bunch of teens, who hint that the previous day’s attack was perpetrated by some creature as well coining the new name for the area: Blood Beach.

At the harbor patrol station, Hoagy rolls in and checks in with Harry. Hoagy is on duty for night patrol than evening and Harry informs him that he has requisitioned a gun for whoever pulls that assignment, adding that the cops and county officials will be out in force, as well. As evening approaches, we see Cat working with artist’s pencils and paint on one of her sketches in her mother’s kitchen. A strange sound leads her to the open window, where a spring-loaded cat comes flying through, startling her and maybe a few audience members as well.

That’s what you get when you ask a vampire for a blow job.Nope, not glory hole, but GORY hole.At the harbor patrol station, Hoagy is saying good-bye to his girlfriend Jo, who must have dropped by for a visit. She gets on a bicycle and pedals away down the boardwalk, singing while he heads back inside to answer the phone. A clock on the wall reads 2:10 AM. Jo approaches some stairs that lead down to the sand and then dismounts so she can safely walk her bike down the steps. At the bottom, she leaves her bike and walks out onto the sand to check on a seagull that seems to be in distress. She follows the sounds under the boardwalk and into the dark space underneath. Meanwhile, Hoagy has gotten off the phone and comes looking for her. The clock now reads 2:30 AM. That was one long phone call! Has she really been trying to locate this bird for that long? Just as she sees the bird and begins walking up to it, a man hurtles out of the darkness and slaps her to the ground. He begins to assault her and tear at her clothes. She’s able to hit him in the balls and crawl away. Now instead of getting to her feet and running like hell, she just crouches there, waiting for the guy to recover. Idiot. Her attacker begins to combat crawl over the sand towards her. Suddenly he stops and grabs at his crotch in pain. Hoagy arrives about now to protect his girlfriend. Her attacker rolls over onto his back and we see his entire crotch area covered in blood. A quick look at the sand shows a hole surrounded by blood. It bit his dick off! That gives new meaning to the term sucked off.

The TV news crews are damn fast in this town, as we see one filming as Hoagy leads Jo away, wrapped in a blanket. Either they got there really damn fast by driving like Michael Schumacher, or they were parked close by just waiting for shit to go down. I’m guessing it was a case of the latter. The reporter tries getting information from the cops, but they have nothing to say. Harry speaks with Pearson, both men agreeing to work together to solve the problem. The Captain even gets to say the film’s tagline, “just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, you can’t even get to it.” That was genius marketing, let me tell you. Maybe the end product wasn’t so great, but the marketing was spot on with that one.

Another day dawns and we see Royko on the beach, speaking with two beat cops. Some kids come running up, yelling. “We found it! We found it! We found the guy’s wiener!” They toss something vaguely hot dog-shaped at Royko who catches it, glances at it and then lets it fall to the ground as the kids run off. By his reaction and his sudden desire to wipe his hands on something, we can surmise that what the kids found was indeed, the remains of that poor bastard’s wiener and it was probably still slick with blood and dick cheese.

At the police station, Pearson, Piantadosi and Dr. Dimitrios discuss the situation. The good doctor believes the culprit behind the attacks is some sort of creature, perhaps some mutated known animal or something undergoing an evolutionary process. Why not throw in escaped alien zoo specimen or bio-engineered government weapon while you’re at it? He says that it probably came from the sea and likes to shelter in warm, dark places. Pearson is not impressed with Dimitrios’ conjecture, saying that it’s more mumbo jumbo than anything concrete or useful to go on.

A POV shot now shows the underside of the boardwalk. Is this supposed to be what the creature is seeing or is it just supposed to be a stylish shot? At the harbor patrol station, Hoagy talks on the phone as we see through the window behind him that the sun has recently set. Harry walks in and Hoagy hands him the phone, saying that it’s his “stewardess friend.” That’s flight attendant, thank you VERY much. He talks with her and then hangs up just as Cat walks into the station. Now from her angle, it still looks pretty bright out, but when we see the desk where the phone is located, it looks like dusk behind them. Odd. That must be a really big room. Cat asks Harry to dinner and as they talk, an ugly intruder barges into the shot. No, not Hoagy or even Royko. It’s the boom mic dropping into frame from above. Harry can’t make dinner that night because he already has plans (Marie is back in town), but agrees to accompany Cat to dinner the following evening. Cat leaves and Hoagy remarks on how Harry never really got over her. He warns Harry that Cat might be setting herself up for a big fall if her mother turns up dead. Did he ever think that maybe Harry is trying to set himself up for a threesome with Cat and Marie?

Later that night we see Harry at his place, struggling to prepare some kind of meal. From the looks of what he’s got spread out around him, I think his idea of a romantic dinner is a submarine sandwich. The music he has playing in the background doesn’t help, sounding more like some mindless jazz drivel than anything coherent. Then again, I have no idea what he is doing as we see him break off a piece of celery then tear off a chunk from a long loaf of bread, jam the two ingredients together, shower it with a dash of salt and then take a bite. Yuck.

“The sand trap swallowed my club! Call the Pro Shop, I need help.”As he’s doing this, Marie has pulled up in her car outside, parking in the alleyway at the end of the row of houses. It’s something of a windy evening and as Marie walks towards Harry’s place, the breeze blows her hat off her head and out onto the sand. She chases it down, the wind pulling it further away from the sidewalk. Just as she grabs it and goes to place back on her head, something grabs her feet and pulls. In an instant she is pulled down to her knees in sand. She struggles and screams out for help from Harry, whom she can see in the distance through his window, but he cannot hear her. She is then pulled down and disappears into the sand, leaving her hat behind.

Later, we see Harry heading next door to see Cat, all his sandwich ingredients and a bottle of wine in his hands. He claims to have been stood up, so she invites him inside. They chat while he eats, as she says she already had dinner – a burger from Moose’s place. He tells her about Marie, who he figures has grown tired with their relationship to explain why she did not show up, and she reveals that she and her husband are now separated, heading for divorce. Later, when he’s leaving, they confirm their dinner for the following night.

Morning comes and Harry prepares for his morning swim to work (I’m thinking the harbor patrol station is out on a nearby pier). When he gets out on the sand and looks back, he sees Marie’s car in the alley. He runs over to check it out, but finds nothing. Scanning the area, he locates her hat in the sand, miraculously still there, despite the winds that blew it around the previous night. Seeing her hat so near to a depression in the sand, Harry realizes what happened to his girlfriend.

Next we see the cops, including Royko and Piantadosi, examining the area. A couple are even digging in the sand. They turn up something which they place in a plastic bag. Royko looks at Harry and asks, "Hey, Harry! What color eyes your stewardess have... had?" Harry gives him a look that could melt lead. You know, Royko is something of a dick. We quickly movie to a meeting between the police and some city council members, the latter who are irate that the case has not been solved after a week. Captain Pearson loses his cool, calls them a bunch of names and labels them grandstanders who cut funding for the police to put their own interests first. He says if they want more to be done, they had better fork over the funds to do so. With that he walks out on them.

Harry is standing alone, looking out to sea, no doubt thinking about Marie and how he’s never gonna clap those cheeks again. Cat shows up to say she’s sorry. Harry is upset and thinks more action needs to be taken. He doesn’t even know if they are supposed to be looking for a person or a thing. He figures that if it is some kind of animal, it has to have a lair which it returns to after feeding. She figures that since no attacks have taken place above ground, whatever this thing may be, must be hiding someplace above sea level (I’m not sure I follow her line of reasoning here). She suggests looking in places no one has thought of yet. Well, I’m pretty sure the cops have determined without a doubt that it is not lurking in any nearby donut shops or eateries. Harry gets lost in thought for a moment and then comes back to reality when confirming plans for later that night.

Before night comes, Harry decides to do a little investigating of his own. He starts poking around a collapsed, broken down and abandoned section of the boardwalk, near a boarded-up building that once housed a merry-go-round. He pushes aside some old boards and uncovers a staircase leading down into an old basement area. Slowly and cautiously he descends. He finds a large area filled with junk from ages past. Light filters in from cracks in the walls and ceiling. He pokes around some more and finds a wall with a large crack in it, light coming in from the other side. He stares at it and then backs away, the scary music ramped up a notch. He makes his way back outside and the camera focuses on that crack in the wall. There seems to be slight movement on the other side. So, did Harry actually see something or was he just freaking himself out because of his surroundings?

That’s the face you make when what you thought was going to be a fart, is so much more.We turn to some fool standing under the boardwalk in some other location. He has a metal detector and is obviously trying to find coins or pirate treasure. He’s dressed in a light blue T-shirt with lettering that reads, “Need Gas? Eat Beans,” hideous shorts with dark stripes, sneakers and dark brown socks hiked up halfway to his knee. This guy should be arrested for that look alone (I remember my dad walking around like that, embarrassing the entire family). At one point he thinks he has found something, but it’s just the lid from some old can. As he continues to search, we move to a POV view of the guy from sand level. As he draws closer and kneels down to examine something, the camera lifts up so it’s about even with his head. There is a screechy roar and he looks up in horror, his expression one that a person usually gets when they’ve not made it to the toilet in time and dropped a steaming load into their pants. I want to know if the monster actually popped up above the sand when this happened. The guy lets out a scream and then we get another POV shot, this time of someone being pulled down into the sand.

Night comes and we see a club where Hoagy is the singer in the band playing on stage. In the audience is his girlfriend, Harry, Cat and Moose. I still don’t know what gender to assign to the latter. At one point, Hoagy’s girlfriend Jo joins him on stage for a horrifying duet, guaranteed to induce abdominal pain to a degree only slightly less painful than your average food-poisoning incident involving radiator coolant. This song goes on past the point of torture and before it’s over you’ll no doubt be shoving the nearest thing at hand – be it TV remote, computer mouse or entire BLT sandwich - into your ear to make it stop. Eventually we move away from that nightmare to see Harry and Cat enjoying a candlelit dinner of burgers and beer (how romantic) at home. Soon they are kissing quite passionately. I don’t know if they got to the bump and grind part because POW, just like that we jump over to the police station where a Mrs. Hench is filing a report on her missing husband, who no doubt was the guy who was fiddling with a metal detector. She gives a detailed list of what he was wearing.

We now cut to the beach, where it is now past noon and a TV reporter is doing a story on how empty the beach is, despite the favorable weather conditions. At the police station, Pearson is relating to his men that as of that morning, they’d gotten over sixty reported sightings of the “Creature of Blood Beach.” The descriptions of said beast are all over the place, people having described it in numerous varying and contradictory terms. Pearson then says that money has been allocated to the department, so more men will soon be assigned to the case, which makes everyone happy. However, this comes with a caveat. Now results really will be expected, so they had better come up with something and fast. After a brief pep talk, the meeting is over.

Royko and Piantadosi head straight to the beach and Moose’s place in particular, where we now see them stuffing their faces with burgers of questionable origin. Moose complains about how all this “Blood Beach” mania has scared off business. Okay, that does it. I have to know if Moose is a male or female because right now I’m leaning more toward double X chromosome, while earlier it was the opposite. I’m going to the IMdB page for this film and settle this once and for all. And the verdict is….Female…despite a male-sounding name. Royko launches into another one of his lengthy speeches about how things were better in Chicago, about to put the entire audience to sleep when a horrified scream splits the air. The officers turn to look and see a horrific form crawling up out of a sewer opening. It’s the missing Mr. Hench, who is still wearing his horribly unfashionable clothes, but now looks like he was swallowed whole by King Kong and then immediately shit out the other end. A quick scene with the press interrogating the cops reveals that while Hench is alive, they have no idea what happened to him, as he shows signs of brain damage as well as having his tongue torn out, which severely limit his future career options to either singing for a death metal band or running for congress.

Cat is out walking along the sidewalk near the beach. Mrs. Seldon approaches with her cart full of crap from the opposite direction and nearly runs into her before swerving away. Cat stops and looks at the old merry-go-round building and the collapsed boardwalk that surrounds it. The entire area is fenced off and we can see the proverbial gears turning in Cat’s mind.

Next we see Hoagy driving a jeep down the beach. He spots Mrs. Seldon, who is climbing up into one of the merry-go-round buildings lower levels, one that still touches the beach. This is probably where she calls home when not out scavenging and annoying people. Hoagy pulls up, gets out of the jeep and tells her that she is not supposed to be in this area and that he will give her a lift back to a safe zone. She ignores him. She climbs a short ladder into small area and once up, pulls the ladder up behind her. She then grabs a doll and holds it like a baby. Hoagy babbles on for a bit and then extends his hand. YANK. He is violently pulled down into the sand. Like everyone else, he screams and struggles. He calls to Mrs. Seldon for help, but she ignores him and just watches as he is pulled below to his doom.

This really makes me want to see a western made penanggalan movie.Elsewhere, just as one might think, Cat is exploring the ruins of the merry-go-round building and the collapsed boardwalk nearby. Mrs. Seldon watches her from the top floor, the same place she occupied at the beginning when Cat’s mother was snatched by the monster. A car arrives with Piantadosi and Harry. They also begin their descent into the old ruins, but Cat has quite a lead on them. After a few more shots of everyone stumbling around, Cat makes her way into one area where either by pure chance or by her bumping something, a board comes loose and her mother’s severed head swings down from above. She lets out a terrible scream (Cat, not the severed had, but to be honest, if that did happen, it might actually make for a scary moment in this film) and hearing it, Harry and Piantadosi come running. In her horror, Cat moves and dislodges another board which causes another section above to collapse. All manner of body parts, including severed arms and legs, now comes spilling out onto the floor along with Hoagy’s freshly dead body, which just hangs there upside down. What we really learn from this scene, aside from where the monster is calling home, is that the beast never finishes its meals. Look at all those leftovers!

Later, the authorities descend upon the beach and the monster’s lair in force, as if stumbling upon a secret cache of donuts or something. The human remains have been cleared away and Doctor Dimitrios is examining a large depression in the soil and figures that is where the beast rests, trying to get an idea of what the creature may look like from the area. He figures the beast will be back at some point and then just as quickly leave again once it realizes that its home has been invaded. Royko wants to blow the thing up, but Dimitrios says that they need to wait. Actually the one in charge, Pearson orders cameras set up to record anything that returns as well as a series of explosives that can go kablooey if he deems it necessary. They all have an hour to get this set up. Better hope the monster doesn’t come back before then!

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

At Harry’s place, He, Cat and the late Hoagy’s girlfriend Jo all sit around and mourn the loss of their loved ones. They could start a club.

Over at the ruined pier, we see that it is now dark, as five hours have passed since the bodies were discovered. Pearson’s cameras and explosives have been put in place and we hear the voiceover from a reporter commenting on the situation. He mentions that the remains of sixteen bodies have been removed from the location. Damn, we only saw three people pulled under the sand that did not survive. Where did the others come from? Has the beast been cruising up and down the entire coast, snagging wayward bums and late-night surfers for meals? There is a sizable police presence as well as throngs of curious onlookers. A command trailer has been set up, with monitors inside with a live feed from the cameras in the monster’s lair. Searchlights have been set up atop the old merry-go-round building, sweeping the area and flashing down into the pit where the bodies were found.

In the trailer, Dimitrios shares his concern with Royko that the creature that they are dealing with will be able to regenerate itself from smaller pieces if it was torn apart. If they blow it to smithereens, he’s worried what might become of each smithereen. Royko looks bored, as if the old guy was muttering nonsense. Time passes and Royko heads outside to eat a candy bar, just as Harry walks up. As they stand there, Royko is called back in to the trailer. Harry follows him. They’ve spotted something on the cameras! Dimitrios tells Royko to call Pearson as they all stare at the monitor.

“Raar! I’m some kind of monsta!”Now it is at this time that we FINALLY get to see the monster. On the monitor it just looks like a shapeless blob. However, the camera cuts away to show us the creature illuminated by the searchlights, the crowd of police and civilians looks at it in surprise. It looks like…well. It’s hard to say what it looks like. A big tan, blobby worm. That’s about the best I can do. It does seem to have an organ that resembles a cross between a fleshy flower and a penis. That can only be the how it grabs and pulls people below the surface, but it is unclear whether one end of its body tapers to that point, or that part is an elongated appendage of some sort.

Pearson is called and we see him and Piantadosi hopping in a squad car and being ferried to the location from the food stand where they eating. Royko exits the trailer and distracts the cops watching the lever that detonates the explosives. Dimitrios emerges from the trailer and shouts a warning, but it is too late. Royko pushes the plunger down and the monster is blown up just as Pearson comes running up. Royko smiles and takes his hat off as if he just saved the entire planet from being anal probed, too damn stupid to realize what he has done.

Day comes and the beach is once again filled with frolicking crowds, the happy (but still shitty) music returning. Cat emerges from her mother’s place, presumably after settling all of mom’s affairs. Harry is waiting in his harbor patrol jeep and says he will take her home. All the way to San Francisco? She gets in and away they drive.

The Invaders from Mars are back!We see a young boy digging in the sand on the beach. The camera pans to the side to show his mother, who is preparing lunch. She asks him if he wants food, but when we pan back, he’s gone, just a large depression left in the sand where he once was. She gets up and starts calling his name, but he’s not to be found. Really? You mean to tell me that kid got yanked under the sand without so much as a peep? Kids barely bump their toe on something and their voice goes up by twenty decibels, but this kid was silent as he was grabbed and pulled below? Bullshit! And NO ONE noticed on this very crowded beach? Come on! There were people sitting just a few feet away, facing that direction. Surely someone saw this poor little bastard vanish into the sand.

A short ways away a couple is making out on a towel oblivious to the fact that a small sinkhole in the sand is opening up near their feet. The music becomes more ominous as we see more sinkholes forming all over the beach, near kids building sand castles, people that are just napping and many other unsuspecting innocents, including two young girls who toss twigs at one. The credits begin to roll as more and more are seen in the sand. Eventually the credits end and we fade to black on that somber note. When dozens more people end up dead, I hope Royko is publicly lambasted for causing this tragedy.

 

The End

 

Review

Let’s face it, the idea and marketing behind this movie was pure genius at the time it was produced and released. Arriving after two Jaws movies and the glut of copycats that followed, the idea of a monster lurking in the water just waiting to devour you was well known. However, the idea that you’d never even make it across the sandy beach before being gobbled up by some critter was a new and exciting idea. The tagline certainly helped tremendously when it came time to promote the film. I can clearly recall seeing the television ads for this one and jumping up and down in excitement at the prospect of seeing it. Over the years, the film has taken on an almost legendary status due to its lack of availability on home video formats and it routinely pops up in lists of film that fans eagerly want to see on Blu-ray. All that being said, it’s a shame that the movie itself is a rather lackluster affair with too many characters, not enough monster attacks or atmosphere of fear, and by far the most frustrating thing, not enough explanation and visual representation given to its monster.

Things start off fairly well, with the first monster attack occurring within the first three minutes. Things quickly grind to a halt after when the onslaught of characters begins and the investigation into that first death underway. There are a couple more brief moments of “horror” that deepen the mystery, but the next major incident isn’t until the half hour mark, when the would be rapist gets his wiener bitten off. After that a few more people go missing, the protagonists practically stumble over the monster’s lair and the set up for the ‘explosive” conclusion is in place, all by the seventy minute mark. It ends up being a short film with a lot less monster action than one would think. We never see the creature during any of the attacks and only glimpse it for a few fleeting seconds at the end before it gets blown up. Was the preceding 80 minutes worth what we got at the end? Not really, but then again, with such a short running time, the movie never has too much opportunity to go off the rails into boringville, but it certainly does try on occasion.

Unlike Amity Island, the authorities here actually close the beach after the first few incidents, whether they prove fatal or not, but that’s about as far as they go. They know something in the sand is attacking people but do they call in scientists and/or try to conduct a search to find it? Nope. They’re content to sit back on their asses and wait for the monster to come to them, despite whining about the need to solve the case. The biggest puzzle for me is the main character of Harry Caulder. While at first he comes across as caring, towards the end he just seems like an opportunist. His hot blonde girlfriend goes missing, all evidence pointing to her demise at the hands (or flippers or mouth or whatever) of the monster. After a brief display of anger over the situation, he’s cozying up to his ex-fiancé, who just so happens to be getting a divorce. Within no time at all, he seems to have forgotten the hot blonde chick. What a douche!

Speaking of D-bags, Sargent Royko must be the biggest one to grace silver screens in years. Here’s a guy who is convinced that his way is the right way and is constantly comparing how things are being handled to the way they would have been dealt with in Chicago. Even though he’s played by likable actor Burt “Paulie” Young, even I was hoping the monster would try its best to suck his fast, annoying ass down through the sand. This compulsion to prove himself right comes back to bite everyone in the ass after he takes it upon himself to blow up the monster, despite warnings that each piece could have the potential to regenerate into a complete organism. Now with dozens, if not more, monsters roaming the underside of southern California beaches, and a great many more people doomed to meet horrific ends, the blame for such a catastrophe must rest squarely on his shoulders. I would like to think that after the events of the film, and the subsequent deaths foreshadowed in the closing credits, there was a fierce public outcry, calling for his head on a silver platter and as a result, his dumb ass did some serious prison time…preferably in Chicago.

With most of the characters being a bust and the narrative all over the place, without enough focus on the monster, what is it exactly about this film that has made it a cult classic? I’m not really sure. It has all the right ingredients to be a great monster flick, starting with such a fantastic idea for a horror movie, but somewhere along the way the idea just wasn’t realized to furthest possible extent. At least, in my opinion that is the case. I still enjoy the film and recall seeing it in the theater, but I suppose my memories of the experience, tainted with time, are more enjoyable that the film itself.

 

Expect To See:
Annoying Kids – There are only a few of these, notably a young pair that return a man’s missing schlong to the cops as well as a few older teens who are interviewed on camera and have as much charm and charisma as an 80 year-old leper.
Beach Madness – A large chunk of this film takes place on the beach, whether directly on the sand itself, or on nearby boardwalks and piers. If any more scenes had required the beach, I’m sure they would have been contractually obligated to include Annette and Frankie.
Giant Monsters – The creature in this film is rather large and going by the brief glimpses we get of it, seems comparable in size to a large pick-up truck or maybe even a small bus, which would make one think there would be more of a disturbance in the soil as it moved.
Gore – There is only one brief scene that this one applies to, and that’s when a character happens upon the monster’s lair and all of the leftovers from previous meals. These include severed heads, arms and legs and other mannequin parts.
Nature Run Amok – The monster in this flick is some sort of super-sized or mutated creature similar to a sea cucumber. Not one effort is made to explain anything about what it truly is or its origin so feel free to come up with something on your own.
Nudity – There is a quick flash of some bare boobies when Hoagy’s girlfriend is attacked by a would-be rapist. Blink and you’ll miss it. Later, you might wanna blink and miss when the guy’s severed penis is thrown at the cops, but that may have just been a stunt wiener.
Rock n Roll – Speaking of Hoagy, he fancies himself a musician, so there’s a scene in a club where he and his band perform. Then he and his girlfriend perform a duet guaranteed to compel you to shove Play-Doh into your ears.
Romance – Usually I save this for a romance that did not exist at the film’s beginning, but I’m giving this one a slide, since Harry and Cat have gone their separate ways for seven years and now have the chance to give it a go again. What? I’m not always a heartless fiend.
Sex – There is one sex scene between Harry and his soon-to-be-monster-food girlfriend. Don’t get excited, because you will not see anything that you might want to see. You will see this scene intercut with another where a dog is killed. I don’t get the symmetry there.
Violence – While people meet grisly ends by being eaten, we never see them after they vanish into the sand, so this barely applies. However, when Hoagy’s girlfriend is attacked by a rapist, this one more than applies, especially given the results of that confrontation.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 5 including one dog
Cigarettes smoked: 6
Cigars smoked: 2
Pipes smoked: 2
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 9
Cups of coffee consumed: 4
Donuts consumed: 2
Burgers consumed: 2
Gunshots: 0
Explosions: 1
Severed heads: 1
Severed dicks: 1
Street Musicians heard: 3 (Sax, Violin & harmonica)
POV shots that aren’t really POV shots: 18
Times Royko thinks he knows better than everyone else: 11
Number of days that pass in film: 6
Number of days that seem to pass while watching film: 20
Number of additional monsters created by explosion: at least 7

03 Min – This must be before the leash law went into effect.
05 Min – Cops eating donuts. How cliché.
13 Min – Wait, is it day or night?
14 Min – Somebody call PETA!
26 Min – Spring-loaded cat.
29 Min – That music! Is the orchestra conductor having a seizure?
31 Min – Stunt wiener.
34 Min – Boom mic intrudes on shot.
35 Min – The first Subway sandwich shop.
45 Min – Boom mic again.
51 Min – Spring-loaded stuffed animal.
55 Min – Please make it end.
64 Min – Crowd in distance stare right at camera.
66 Min – Spring-loaded pigeons.
69 Min – Spring-loaded severed head.
70 Min – Severed body parts hauled away in hefty bags.
80 Min – No kid could be that quiet if a monster was around.
83 Min – Let’s go surfing!


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone says the words BEACH or SAND, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

An effective, if extreme, method
for getting a dog to stop barking.


“This wasn’t what I imagined when
you said there was head at the beach.”


“A note from the chief: the shoot
first, ask questions later policy does
not
apply to jay walkers.”


 
“Are you really gonna air this? Cuz
I totally skipped school to
come down here.”

“Have you ever just thought, fuck
it! Imma let that fucker drown?”

The look your woman makes when
you put on the same underwear
after a shower.




 
“Gimme some sanitizer, quick!”

 
“So, you wanna see me make this
pencil disappear?”

It’s not the size of a man’s bread,
but what he puts in it, that counts.

“What? Christmas cancelled? Well
that saves me a ton of money.”

“Let’s see we found a dozen beer cans,
six lost keys, a few dead crabs and…
get a load of this…Jimmy Hoffa!”

“I can totally watch the girls
volleyball game on the nude
beach from here.”


Looking like that, no wonder the
monster didn’t bother eating him.

“Buoys and girls, it shore is a nice
day, nothing a-piers to be wrong so
come on out and seas the day!”



“Officer Jones, you denied fathering
that whore’s baby. The DNA results
are in and you…ARE the father.”

Though they tipped well, pizza
delivery to the Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles required a bath afterwards.

Once again, the police apprehend
the fifth rate villain, Shit Disturber.

Just a guess mind you, but I
suspect that might be infected.

Just what in the hell am I looking at?
The monster's dong?

Holy shit, I thought bowl cuts
were just a myth.

 

Immortal Dialog
Keep In Mind

Dr. Dimitrios gives his expert opinion on Piper the dog’s fate.

Dimitrios: “The dog was killed. Brutally, savagely killed. If I were to make an educated guess, I would say that the killer was a large man…or an average sized man with unusually large hands with very strong, very long and very sharp fingernails.”

Shadow’s Comment: So he’s narrowed the list of subjects to Freddy Krueger, Wolverine, Vega from Street Fighter, Shredder, Edward Scissorhands and every vampire on the planet (excluding those sparkling assholes).


  • Never eat a burger from a woman named Moose.
  • Police procedures in Chicago are superior to those in Los Angeles.
  • Asking a man if his clock is functioning properly is an invitation for sex.
  • A strong enough human can rip the head off a dog.
  • Celery sandwiches are not a thing. Stop trying to make them a thing.
  • Trying to help a distressed animal in the middle of the night can only lead to trouble.
  • Rapists hide under boardwalks at 2:30 in the morning.
  • Kids can locate items that have eluded the police.
  • When looking for a monster’s lair, just ignore the ruined building that takes up an entire block near where the killings occurred.
  • Monsters hate leftovers.

Reporters quiz the cops about Mr. Hench.

Pearson: “Doctor’s figure that there has been considerable brain damage.”
Reporter 1: “How considerable?”
Royko: pointing to his head and twirling his finger “Vegetable soup….and there’s something else.”
Reporter 2: “What’s that, Royko?”
Royko: “Somebody ripped his tongue out.”

Shadow’s Comment: So that’s what happened to Joe Biden.

 

Movie Trailer
This Film & Me
This movie was released in the U.S. in January of 1981, the midway point of the 5th grade for me. The first I heard of it was when a classmate asked if I had seen the TV commercial promoting its upcoming release and his excited description of it. After that, I kept a sharp eye out during the commercial breaks when watching TV, which at the time, was a lot. I quickly saw the commercial and decided that I needed to see it. The problem was, it was rated R. What to do? Easy! Get dad on my side, since mom would never knowingly let me go to an R rated movie. Back in those long lost days, commercials would air for a movie about two weeks in advance of its release. Maybe three. So from that point on, whenever the ad came on the TV and my mother was around, I would distract her so she would not see it and not even be aware of the movie’s existence. This was easy because mom paid so little attention to the TV as it was, her attention buried in her crossword puzzle books. However, when dad was around, I made sure to point it out to him and expound upon how good it looked, so when release weekend came, Dad was ready to go and mom only knew that it was a “monster” movie, which in her mind, was silly, but safe. Thus I saw this film in a packed theater at age eleven. I don’t remember being scared while watching and many details cemented themselves in my mind and stayed there for many years until I saw it again. It’s a pity that all the rights issues has made a legit region 1 DVD or Blu-ray unlikely, but at least YouTube is good for one thing. If this ever does get an official release, I will be preordering it up faster that you can say John Saxon!


 

Rating
Shadow Says


Shadow's rating: Five Tombstones



The Good

  • Great idea for monster
  • Memorable performances from John Saxon and Burt Young
  • A couple of creepy moments
  • Boobs!

The Bad

  • Film meanders all over the place
  • Needed more monster action
  • Monster does not live up to expectations

The Ugly

  • Monster resembles a flowering penis
  • Goodness, 90% of the music sucked
  • Invasion of the Boom Mic

 

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