Sunday, April 7, 2013

Baby Blood (Alain Robak, 1990)

In a perfect world, every movie would be about parasitic, worm-like creatures who live inside the vaginas of gap-toothed French women with killer curves. But alas, the world is not perfect. However, when a film comes along that does feature bloodthirsty demon slugs and the roomy gashes they call home, you should jump on that cinematic grenade without even thinking. Sure, they will end up turning your insides into chop suey, but your spirit will thank you for having done so. Don't believe me? Just ask my spirit, it just watched Baby Blood (a.k.a. The Evil Within and Look Who's Talking 3: The Quickening), and it's been thanking me non-stop for the past two days straight. Speaking of insides blowing up, after viewing this film–which was directed by, what's it say here, Alain Robak, okay, Alain Robak–I've come to the sensible conclusion that arterial spray is the only true art form in existence. If you're wondering how I came to this conclusion, you need look no further than the soon to be bloodstained surfaces that litter in this fist pump-inducing film. Each person on the planet has enough blood coursing through their veins to create a masterwork. All you have to do is stand next something flat, a wall should suffice, open up your jugular with a sharp object (a knife seems to do the trick), and watch as the crimson splatter becomes a mind-altering work of art right before your dying eyes. A quick warning: You only get one chance to make an impression this way, so make it count, because you'll be long dead before the reviews of your blood painting start pouring in. In fact, you'll probably be dead before you hit the ground.
Just like snowflakes, each arterial spray is unique. Depending on the manner you're cut, you could see a lot blood come out all at once, or you could see it come in short, controlled bursts. Also, diet plays a key role in the quantity and trajectory of your blood spray. If, say, you have a high fibre diet, you should expect a veritable gusher of blood (it's raining blood! hallelujah!). If, however, you eat nothing but sugary and fatty foods, your blood shower will be drizzly and sporadic at best.
What I think I'm trying to say in my own awkward sort of way is that there's a lot of blood in this film. And why wouldn't there be? Funny you–who is actually me–should say that, as I was just thinking to myself as I watched the first victim crawl on his belly after being stabbed, where's the blood? Now, I'm not the kind of person who craves their movies to be filled with gore. But I do appreciate it when stabbing victims in movies bleed blood after being stabbed. It's just the way I was raised.

Nevertheless, after he was finished crawling in agony, and our "pregnant" protagonist decides to feed her chatty vagina monster his red nectar, I saw a torrent of blood that was beyond a gusher, it was a blood monsoon.
Even though I was fully on board with the film and its kooky premise the moment the creature burst its way out of an agitated circus leopard and entered the vagina of a shapely, gap-toothed woman with tempestuous thighs, it wasn't until our gap-toothed (les dents du bonheur) heroin was drenched in eight pints of blood that I really started to nod to myself with an obnoxious brand of self-satisfied glee. 
Scratch that. I was on board the moment we get a close up shot of Yanka's panties. 
Anyway, a new leopard has just been delivered to the Cirque de Lohman, a travelling circus currently performing somewhere in northern France, and you don't have to be an animal expert to figure out that its presence is agitating the other animals.
The woman attached to Yanka's panties, by the way, is a circus performer named, strangely enough, Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou), who lives in a trailer with Lohman (Christian Sinniger), the "Lohman" in Cirque de Lohman. Their relationship is a tad rocky; he's extremely jealous and she's been impregnated by a million year-old worm demon. No, actually, she's not pregnant yet. But she will be soon. After the leopard explodes, something slithers out of the cage and decides that Yanka's vagina would make a great new home.
Noticing a slight weight increase the following morning (she weighs herself everyday), Yanka heads over to the local clinic to get tested. The shots of Emanuelle Escourrou walking, her thick thighs making mincemeat out of the puny French asphalt, from the clinic, her equally thick mane of brunette hair blowing in the wind, are exceptional.
Packing a few things in a suitcase and grabbing a fist full of cash, Yanka hops aboard a train. Tracking her down to some squalid hellhole on the outskirts of town, Lohman confronts Yanka. Big mistake. Stabbing him the stomach, Yanka goes to finish him off, but she can't do it. As she cowers naked (her red robe fell off during the initial stabbing) in the other room, we get our first taste of the voice. That's right, the thing growing inside Yanka's uterus speaks. However, unlike Aylmer from Brain Damage, only Yanka can hear him. And what the vagina monster is saying at the moment mostly has to do with feeding it blood.
Voiced by Gary Oldman, the vagina monster says, "I want the blood of the man you killed. I need it to grow." I loved the way the vagina monster kept saying, "slit his throat" over and over again. After much coaxing, we're treated to a scene that can be pretty much summed this way: Stab. Spray. Scream. And repeat.
You'll notice that I call the thing living inside Yanka's vagina a "monster." Well, even though he says several times that he is in fact not a monster, I can't think of any other word to describe him. I mean, he forces gorgeous, gap-toothed, curvy women to stab men so that he may feed on their blood. And, in my book, that's pretty monster-like. Yeah, I know, you just want to be born. But do so many people have to die in order for that to happen? Humans kill over 100 million sharks each year. Are humans monsters?   
The vagina creature tells Yanka to leave the slum (it's unsafe), but not before she tries to drown herself. After being dumped at a gas station by a lothario-esque trucker (he decides to trade in one shapely, gap-toothed brunette for two German ladies who both look like amateur porn stars), Yanka eventually gets a job as a waitress.
I like to call this period of Baby Blood: The Shapely Trimester. Using her man-puddle-creating curves to wrangle potential meals for her unborn demon child, Yanka sets her sights on Richard (Jean-François Gallotte), a frequent patron at the diner she works. Even though he's supposed to be going steady with a stylish (I dug her new wave-friendly outfits) cashier named Rosette (Roselyne Geslot), Richard can't help but be transfixed by Yanka's voluptuousness.
When Yanka's belly gets too big, she puts aside her sex appeal, and gets a job as taxi driver. Taking out bespectacled joggers, Andy Kindler clones, kindly old women (the only death in the movie that involves a woman and no arterial spray), guys who give blood at mobile blood banks, and paramedics, Yanka is determined to bring her baby to term. In her mind, she might as well get it over with. Considering the amount of crap she's had to put up with over the last nine months, it only makes sense for her to want it to go smoothly. Whether she feels the same way after its born is another story all together.
Channeling Isabelle Adjani from Possession, the alluring, gap-toothed Emmanuelle Escourrou is fearless as Yanka, the plucky soon-to-be mom who kills for her unborn demon child. Giving one of the best blood-face performances in film history, Emmanuelle sets the bar pretty high for all those who want to come off as convincing while covered in six pints of blood.  
Oh, and when I refer to Emmanuelle as "gap-toothed," I don't mean to imply that it's a negative. On the contrary, Emmanuelle's gap is one of the film's strongest attributes (the gap is used to great effect during the journey that takes us inside Yanka, as the camera zooms through her gap). The same goes for her shapeliness. You hardly ever see a woman who looks like Emmanuelle in so-called mainstream movies. Which is a shame, because Emmanuelle is the kind of woman most honest heterosexuals are drawn to. Yet, the powers that be seem to think they prefer malnourished boy-mannequins.
If you're like me, and you're a fan unruly vaginas and the shapely women who wield them, and you have a soft spot for arterial spray, and think gap-toothed chicks are the bee's knees, you need to see Baby Blood. It's French. It's disgusting. And, most importantly, it's awesome.

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  1. very cool I noticed we review almost all of the same films, would you like to trade links? I'm a long time reader and big time fan of your work.

  2. @Crankstein: The same films? Let me check... Holy crap, you're right... Lady Terminator, Salon Kitty, Nightmare City, Gestapo's last Orgy... Awesome stuff.

    @ido: Baby Blood, baby!

    @Oz: I don't speak Spanish.

  3. All right, first off, sorry for being off-topic!
    Ive been a reader for quite some time, also went back and read various reviews. I love you. And i need to ask because I couldn't figure it out myself...
    What movie is the image of a girl sticking her tongue in front of a wall mouth sticking its tongue out from?
    Again sorry for the rude off-topicness nature of this post.

  4. @yum-yum: And from a completely different angle, its the terror and trauma of pregnancy caused by an abusive spouse made manifest.

  5. @Eran Weiss: No worries. :)

    The image you're referring to is from Dr. Caligari (Stephen Sayadian, 1989)

    @ido: Dang, I didn't think of that angle.

  6. @yum-yum: I plan on watching this Friday night. If that reading is definitely there, I'll pick it up right away.

  7. I'll try to refrain from posting anymore spoiler-ish Baby Blood pics on tumblr before Friday then. ;)

  8. see what I mean, send me a banner and I'll post it lets do some tradin!

  9. Baby Blood sort of reminds me of Baxter with the evil talking dog even thought they are totally different

  10. @yum-yum: I've been listening to Nuclear Death's first LP a lot lately, so I'm definitely in the mood for this film.

    @Eran Weiss: Watch the original "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919). Then Sayadian's "Dr. Caligari" (1989). Immediately.

  11. @yum-yum: ok, I bathed lustfully in the glow of this film last night. The trauma of an abusive relationship made flesh is not what is going on. However, this wonderful and quite brilliant little film has a load of subtext. Its definitely there, and Robak really plays it up, especially in the final act of the play when Yanka is full term. The entire subversion of the mother-child relationship (that begins even in the womb, this time far more actively), the horror of this creature inside of you, the fear of blood and the chaos it causes when sprayed all over organized society, impurity and death, the debased cruelty that Yanka displays throughout the film that becomes perfectly acceptable to us the viewer: all of these things fit extremely well into Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection from her 1982 work "Powers of Horror."
    Quick links-
    3) Massive details:

    Although I don't agree with all of Kristeva's theories (her study on Chinese women is bullshit), "Powers of Horror" and abjection is very effective and "Baby Blood" is an amazing exercise in exploring an ultimate form of horror from the female perspective: pregnancy. What modern society usually paints as a wonderful and beautiful moment in a women's life was life threatening for most before modern medicine. Your body is changing, out of control, taken over. And in Yanka's case, it is truly taken over with an extremely chatty, philosophically confused supernatural parasite that compels her to brutally murder men and drink their blood.

    Emmanuelle Escourrou carries this entire film. As you mentioned, this is one of the best blood-soaked French actresses since Isabelle Adjani in "Possession." Although the two films and performances are totally different. The point is, this isn't your usual gore film "I'm going to get naked, drop fake blood all over me, and run buck-naked around on the set screaming" exploitation film hack acting. This is the real thing. Escourrou is completely believable as a young woman attempting to cope under extremely bizarre circumstances. Her range is excellent: in a thematically critical scene she goes on a TRUE "emotional roller coaster" (i hate it when friends say that), and is able to pull it off. And it makes sense: she got a fucking talking supernatural homicidal blood-drinking parasitic fetus growing inside her! She must have taken a beating during this film, too. The other real standout as far as acting is director Alain Robak who does the voice of said fucking talking supernatural homicidal blood-drinking parasitic fetus, under the name of "Robert Placenta" (tee-hee). By the end of the film, he and Yanka have a real relationship going. Although I think they are very codependent by that point, which is expected, him being a parasite and all.

    Finally, "Baby Blood" has a very droll sense of humor. Not so much the "Dead Alive" or "Evil Dead II
    " sense of horror movie humor, but its definitely there.

  12. I haven't made up my mind whether or not I'll watch it, but there's apparently a sequel called "Lady Blood," featuring Emmnanuelle Escourrou as Yanka, from 2008 floating around out there.

  13. Its too bad Ms. Escourrou never made a film with Jess Franco around this time. It could have been called "Lady Yanka" or whatever, and featured he lounging about the Spanish Riveria in various lacy lingerie items and saucy knee boot-mini skirt ensembles while sitar music played.

  14. Mmmm, Ms. Escourrou in saucy boot-mini skirt ensembles.

    Possible titles: Lady Yanka ...The Story of Her Journey into Perversion, The Hot Nights of Lady Yanka, The Sexual Story of Lady Yanka, or The Inconfessable Orgies of Yanka.