Film Review: Blood Games

The 1990 release Blood Games is a weird blend of '70s Grindhouse feature, '80s Slasher Drive-In Fare, and '90s Lifetime Channel Made-for-TV Original Production.  This mixed vibe is clear from the very beginning, as the opening credit sequence overlays dripping blood with '90s font text (you know the kind - angular, blocky, maybe with a blue dropshadow).

Goddamn blue dropshadow.

Blood Games is about horrible rednecks hunting down and commiting unspeakable acts of terror on a softball team of nubile athletes, who all the while really learn a lot about themselves and, like, sisterhood.  The emotional aspect here is obviously heightened - these girls aren't just prey, they're victims and this film wants you to KNOW IT.  It succeeds, to its merit, thanks to the balanced story, rich cinematography, and brutal editing.  Oh, and having a literal team of young ladies in hot pants as leads doesn't hurt either.

When "the Ballgirls" defeat a local redneck team at softball, the town Mayor, or Sheriff, or resident Tough Guy, takes the game loss personally as well as losing $1000 of his money to the girls' coach, Babe (really, who bets triple digits on a quasi-authentic sport played in an open field between drunks and bimbos?).  When Babe goes to collect the money, of course the girls escape the safety of their tour bus and run afoul of the horny locals.  Rape is nearly made, fistfights turn to knife-fights and both Babe and the Tough Guy's son winds up dead!  The girls flee town in their tour bus, chased by a vengeful Tough Guy and the Boys.

The remainder of the movie is the Ballgirls being chased through the woods, hoping to pick off their pursuers before they can themselves be taken out ... of the Blood Game DUN DUN DUN.  One by one, each side suffers death as the girls kick and bite their way out of their pursuer's filthy hands, some being better at it than others.  It's a well-structured and well-paced chase, offering up plenty of action sequences, traps, and trap reversals.

Film tone and composition really accentuate the dangerous terrain of the Sequoia National Forest - since the shooting location for Love in the Time of Monsters is like Sequoia but redwood-ier, I'm really excited to see how badass and scary our forest setting will turn out!

It's this cinematography, paired with the suspenseful editing and terse sound design, that really gives Blood Games a unique tone.  There's liberal use of slow-motion which succeeds at amplifying tension, especially during action scenes.  Thanks to the classy cinematography, slow-mo comes off as epic and brutal instead of tired and boring.  The sound design then uses the skilfully-edited sequences as opportunities to build out thrilling, powerful compositions.  The combined effect in some instances nearly borders on the cinematic sublime.

This is totes powerful in context.

The score also reflects the feminine influence, alternating betwen tense action beats and slow, sappy synthesizer.  Granted, it gets a little repetitive after a while but hey, it does its job when it needs to .

Regarding the cast - first off, Blood Games has some of the creepiest rednecks I've ever seen in cinema.  They're not mutated, or pedophiles, or cannibals, they're just regular white people who happen to have no problem being horrible, and that I believe has more of a disturbing effect than the over-designed rural grotesqueries that horror cinema has been leading towards (i.e. The Hills Have Eyes, House of a Thousand Corpses).  It seemed more powerful to see them grinning away and joking with each other while hunting down women than to hiss and wave around big shiny knives with a suspiciously spinewy appearance.

Mmmm ... lady-huntin'

The girls are not only tough but also quick on their feet - I never knew that the Power of Softball could be used to disarm a hostage situation but these clever ladies showed me otherwise.  Also, it would be irresponsible of me to neglect mention of the T&A, so here it is - it's, in a word, consistent.  These girls change out of the skimpiest softball outfits and into likewise skimpy street-clothes, each outfit more ridiculous than the last.  The film was released in 1990 so they have no "Eighties Defense," so I'm just going to assume the wardrobe department knew what was expected of them and said, hey, sure, short-shorts all around.

You get the idea.

As for the ladies themselves, well I think it's a credit to consider them all Real Women.  It's refreshing to see a change of pace from the super-attractive actress saturation of today.  Sure Megan Fox is built well, but she's just that - built.  These women are natural and charming - yes, even you Eyebrows McPonytail.

I keel you.

Blood Fare is Director Tanya Rosenberg's only film credit on IMDb, and I wonder why.  Gender politics is a main focus of the film, could it have been also during production?  I know Jack from shit about the history of this film but I can blindly suppose that a male Producer and 4 other male story credits might have creative differences with a woman, especially when making a film about horrible men doing mean things to innocent and nubile women.  Either way, none of the creative authors of the film went on to do anything impressive so perhaps Blood Games is the result of some freak planetary alignment.  It's along the lines of There's Nothing Out There, a lone film from a team never again to repeat their one-time genius.

All in all, it's a film about homicidal rednecks and gratuitous T&A, well-done.

Choice lines:

"Horny old man coming through!"
"Hey!  The dumb broads took the bait!""Good work, men.  Good work."
"I have been pushed around my whole life by lousy men, and I'm sick of it!  I say we give them just a little taste of their own medicine right now!""Well, if that's what you feel you have to do."

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