This week’s installment comes from France circa 1990. This title is not excessively hard to track down, but yet is another that many horror fans may have missed or overlooked. I present to you... Baby Blood.
I must confess even I missed this title. I did not discover it until last year when I was pregnant. Though many women may, rightfully so, chose not to watch pregnancy-themed horror films while they have a bun in the oven, my sick brain was drawn to them. After viewing Rosemary’s Baby, The Devil Within, and It’s Alive, I found myself searching for something rare, something I had never seen before. Thus, I found Baby Blood.
Written and directed by Alan Robak, Baby Blood focuses on a circus performer named Yanka. After being abused by her lover she flees the circus and sets out on her own. Yanka thinks she is pregnant but soon realizes she is not harboring a baby but instead a snake-like parasite that crawled into her uterus. Yanka must consume large amounts of fresh human blood to keep the parasite alive. But here is the best part: the parasite talks to her. Think Aylmer from Brain Damage, but this parasite is a lot smarter and set on world domination.
Baby Blood is ridiculously gory. Filled with Yanka’s murders and then subsequent blood-lettings, this film fits right in with what we now know as French Extreme. It was even gorier in its original French format. When first released in the USA, the distributors cut some of the more disturbing and bloody sequences, including scenes of naked and pregnant Yanka rolling around in blood, and also a scene of where she has sex with a gent and the parasite takes a bite of his “member”.
But the cut VHS release is by no means the only thing that has kept Baby Blood underground. I would also point a blood-covered finger at the very mature and unpleasant subject matter, which includes (but is not limited to) spousal abuse, a strange discussion on incest and anal sex (cut from early VHS release), a parasite that crawls inside vaginas and discussion on how that is done, and to add to the weirdness, the parasite/baby thing gives the mother orgasms when it moves around. This movie is not going to be everyone’s cup of blood, nor can it be marketed to the horror masses.
Plus, this movie has a lot more larger topics at work here than just the carnage. First, the movie is pumped full of gender issues. While Yanka is taking control of her of life and womanhood, all the men in the film are abusive and rape-y. Then there is the snarky parasite. Unlike Brain Damage’s Alymer, the Baby Blood parasite is not happy simply singing Bing Crosby-esque tunes. This witty parasite spends his time discussing social theory with Yanka, including really heady philosophical discussions on what guides human nature, the implementation and exacerbation of chaos in the world, and the role of God in an inhuman society. Still somehow the parasite’s abstract metaphysical musings always end in a gory and organ/brain covered mess.
Since the VHS release from the early 1990’s is a hatchet job of cuts, I would recommend the DVD. Anchor Bay did a rather limited release of Baby Blood in 2006. Film purists everywhere hated this release because Anchor Bay chose to dub over the original French language. But there is a bright side to this dubbing debauchery: the peevish parasite is voiced by Gary Oldman, who provides a nice dry wit to the blood-sucker. Though many online critics still bitch endlessly about the dubbing, I say if it must be dubbed, at least have Gary Oldman! Baby Blood can be picked up on both Netflix for rental and on Amazon for a reasonable price.
Director Alain Robak followed Baby Blood with a 2008 sequel entitled Lady Blood. This one is actually a hard-to-find film, as I have been trying to locate a copy for months. Blockbuster offers it for rent online, however Netflix does not. So if anyone still sports a Blockbuster membership, check out the sequel and let me know if it is worth my hunt.
Got an “unseen” title I should check out or a recommendation for a future installment? Email me at email@example.com.