Greetings, readers. Tonight I have a tasty little early 80s treat for you (IMDB says 1980, other sources say 1981, I’m going with IMDB on this), a film that, interestingly enough, feels like a precursor to that greatest of 1990s Creature Features, TREMORS. Tonight’s film, BLOOD BEACH, is something of a JAWS ripoff, in that it was made during the “waterfront/beach creature boom” following in the wake of JAWS’ success, but it takes it a step further — in BLOOD BEACH, the monster is not in the water, but under the sand.
Meet Harry, a lifeguard-type on Venice Beach, California. He’s drawn into the investigation of the disappearance of Ruth Hutton, the mother of Harry’s ex-fiancee. She disappeared just moments after talking with Harry on the beach, and when I say disappeared, I mean DISAPPEARED. Poof! Gone.
Before long, other people are disappearing from Venice Beach, either wholly or in parts. Ruth Hutton’s dog, barking at the sand late one night, is decapitated. A teen girl buried up to her neck in sand has her legs chewed off. The Los Angeles Police Department gets involved, but not too closely — Captain Pearson (John Saxon!) assigns lazy and irritable schmoe Sergeant Royko (Burt Young! Paulie from all the ROCKY movies!) to the case.
Harry and his ex-fiancee Catherine (Marianna Hill) reconnect over her mother’s disappearance, and start investigating the disappearances Scooby Doo style, and eventually figure out that there might be some sort of monster lurking under the sand, sucking people down and eating them. The trick is to convince the police that there’s a sand monster on the loose.
Somehow, they manage to do exactly that, and track the beast to it’s lair — a basement of an abandoned house where Harry and Catherine used to hang out as kids. Over the objections of a scientist who speculates that the worm-like beast might be able to regenerate from any fragmentary remains, the monster is blown up with an explosive charge. But what if the scientist is right?
A worm-like monster with a big fanged mouth that sucks people down through soft, sandy earth…it’s almost eerily like TREMORS in its initial premise, but unlike TREMORS it has no likeable characters. Most of them are just flat, except for Sergeant Royko, who is ACTIVELY unlikeable, just a smug fat little asshole mouthing off to everyone around him. You just spend the entire film hoping he gets eaten. The only person you root for in the film is John Saxon, and that’s simply because he’s John Saxon!
A lot of the film dragged pretty hard, with a whole lot of nothin’ in between the oh-too-few monster attacks. And even those attacks are pretty bland. The best one was when a would-be rapist surprised a girl while crawling between the dunes, and the monster chewed his junk off before disappearing. Fun times. Well, not for Mr. Rapist, but, y’know.
Final Analysis: Nothing special, but an okay killer of 87 minutes. Not available on legitimate DVD release, but look for it at your favorite gray-market dealer.
Overall, I give BLOOD BEACH (1980)…
TWO BARRELS OF TOXIC WASTE.