Blood Theatre (1984)

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AKA: Movie House Massacre

The final night of a downtrodden theatre in the 1930s (?) isn’t going so well for the theatre owner. The place is about to be converted into a movie house, and the last performance before the conversion has only attracted a whopping 18 people. On top of that, he’s been disrespected by his employee, he just found out his girlfriend is seeing another man, and they’re all in the middle of the Great Depression. Perhaps predictably, he snaps and gasses the place, killing everyone inside (including his girlfriend and her beau) and then goes outside and stabs the ticket taker.

Cut to 40 years later and the tragic playhouse has now been bought up by a slightly sleazy movie theatre owner who owns a chain of equally sleazy theatres. The new owner is intent on finally converting the old place into the one-screen theatre it was supposed to be turned into years ago, and sends his three most competent employees over to clean up the place and get it ready for opening night. But the one night of death 40-some-odd years ago isn’t the only secret the little soon-to-be movie house is hiding, and it doesn’t take long before more names are added to it’s already long list of victims.

Blood_Theatre_2Uh, honey… that’s not how the popcorn machine works.

Okay, where to start…where to start…The acti–…er, no….The script is–…..hm…. How about the executio–…. 

Wait. 

Okay. 

WAIT.

Let me start over….

This movie sucks, ya’ll. 

There, that’s better.

This is the type of movie that when it ended I felt profoundly sorry for anybody who went to a honest-to-god theater and paid money to see it. Truth be told, I had an inkling it was going to be awful when it started and I saw this pop up on screen:

Blood_Theatre_3Uh, oh. That can’t be good.

But it exceeded all my horrible, horrible expectations. 

For starters, it barely makes a lick of sense. That plot summary I wrote up there was probably me being too generous in my coherency. The movie’s plot feels less like a plot and more like a loose idea of a plot that someone with a crappy video camera decided to put to film.

A perfect example is the theatre itself. I mean, there’s clearly some supernatural shit going down at this place. And I’m not talking just about implied things that can be innocently explained away, I talking about ‘this place is clearly haunted and anyone with half a brain would leave’ shit. Doors violently open and close by themselves, lights flicker, the typewriter starts typing out cryptic messages (or this movie’s version of it) and I’m pretty sure some weird light incinerated a girl.

Blood_Theatre_4Don’t feel bad, no one liked her anyway.

But instead of a bunch of pissed off ghosts the killer winds up being…the original theatre owner? Who is clearly still alive and still walking around, and clinging to a knife that would make Crocodile Dundee proud? Which begs the question, who the hell is haunting this place? The victims? If it were, then why are they harassing a bunch of skimpy cheerleaders instead of focusing the GUY WHO KILLED THEM? I mean, he’s still alive and stalking around the place. Wouldn’t he make an equally squishy target? Did the killer somehow get supernatural powers? Was the theatre just always haunted? Alas, the film isn’t competent enough to give us an explanation, and the rest of the movie is filled with just as many amateurish plot-holes.

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Then there’s the acting. If you can call it acting. I think, for the most part, attempts were made in the general vicinity of ‘acting’, but only the secretary (Mary Woronov, bless her) really managed to hit their mark. Everyone else is either trying way too hard or falling flat on their face. There is no inbetween.There is also a recurring attempt at comedy throughout the movie, but everyone here is so inept at simple things like ‘reaction’ and ‘timing’ that the only reason you’ll be laughing is because of how horrendously sad and awkward everything ends up being.

It might not have been quite so bad if any of the characters had maintained some sort of appeal, but the characterization and execution is so bad throughout that you wind up thoroughly hating everyone, even the heroine. Which, like, I’m 99.9% sure wasn’t what they were going for.

Blood_Theatre_6Or maybe it was. With this film it’s impossible to know.
Blood_Theatre_7I’ve rewatched this scene twice, and I still don’t know what he was going for with this look.
Blood_Theatre_8You were too good for this movie, Miss Woronov.

I did some reading some time after the movie ended and looked up the cast and director. Color me (not) surprised to find out that this horrible cluster is from the same guy who gave us Hobgoblins. Yes, Hobgoblins, as in that movie you’ve likely heard about being one of the worst films of all time and was popularized by Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Hobgoblins. I watched that episode of MST3k. The movie is utterly cheap and the acting is atrocious. But next to Blood Theatre, Hobgoblins looks like a damn Shakespearian masterpiece. At least the cheap Gremlins ripoff looks like it made an attempt at production values. But this thing …this thing is like the epitome of rock bottom. The costuming is hideous and all over the place, the sound effects are jarring and inexplicable, the script feels like it never made it past the rough-draft phase, and the sets…well, actually half of the sets are pretty nice (the other half *shudders*), but the direction is so bad that even on the good sets I had a hard time figuring out where things were half the time.

Oh, and for some inexplicable reason, they redubbed one of the main actresses. Not all the actors. Not all the actresses. Just the one. Think about that. This woman sounded so bad in an already horrible sounding movie that even the director of this travesty didn’t think it was good enough.

Blood_Theatre_9Behold, what the movie does best: Terrible 80s fashion and hot fuse action.

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I can’t really think of a reason to watch Blood Theatre. I guess if you’re a fan of horrible cinema and 80s fashion then it might be appealing to you. But as a fan of both horrible cinema and the 80s in general myself, even I think this is pretty awful. The acting isn’t so bad it’s cringe-worthy, it’s damn near sob inducing. The characters are unlikeable, the plot is often indiscernible, the sets are lame (and some of them hand drawn…poorly), it sounds terrible and its poor attempt at humor makes me want to cry. And, to top it all off, for a film whose title mentions blood (or massacre, depending) there is damn near little of both. For some that’ll be the biggest shame of them all.

Blood Theatre is available for streaming via Amazon Prime.

It is also available on Bluray.

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Michi

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