Willing Sacrifices (Bloodtide, 1982)

Set on a small greek island, a young man, Neil, and his new wife Sherry have arrived looking for his missing sister Madeline. He discovers she is staying with some nuns restoring art and hanging with a gruff treasure hunter named Freye.

The Island locals are secretive and not very friendly. As the film goes on, we discover that there is a dark secret… the locals still sacrifice virgins to a creature that lives under the island. Freye has disturbed the creature from a long slumber. Madeline’s art restoration reveals ancient art of the creature, and the discovery of coins seems to infect the locals with a madness reaching even the children. Meanwhile the visitors are all becoming obsessed with their own goals.

For some reason I always thought this was a killer crocodile film. But while it is a creature feature, it is more of a monster flick. You never see much of the monster, even in the few reveal shots. Otherwise you usually see everything from the monster’s perspective. Thankfully, this actually benefits the movie as you get some absolutely beautiful underwater scenes. This movie makes great visual use of it’s environment.

While a slow moving film, I found myself drawn into the mystery and the characters. Bloodtide has a couple moments that left me scratching my head (a passionate lover’s kiss between brother and sister for example). But really, I enjoyed the film a lot of a visual level and seeing James Earl Jones in a not Darth Vader role was fun.

Bloodtide is a film that got relegated to the bargain DVD bin for years, which is a shame as I found it rather interesting and engaging.

Soldiers for Life (VFW, 2020)

VFW_PosterWhen a young woman runs into their VFW with a bag of stolen drugs a group of veterans find themselves have to fight vicious drug addicts hell bent on getting the drugs back.

I don’t have a lot to say here.  The main draw is a really good cast of “Old Tough Guys” and George Wendt (who is a great actor, just not known for his tough guy roles).  It is a pretty standard siege movie along the lines of an Assault on Precinct 13.

This is a violent and bloody film, but does a good job leaning into it’s tropes and not worrying too much about being some sort of heady exploration of themes.  You just watch this for a wild and crazy action flick.

Forget the War (Rambo: First Blood Part 2, 1985)

First_Blood_Part_2Three years after First Blood, John Rambo came back.  This time he was freed from Jail to go on a secret government mission in Vietnam, saving POWs.  He is brought in by Richard Crenna’s Col Trautman at the request of Marshall Murdock (Charles Napier).  Directed by George Cosmatos (who went on to direct fan favorite Tombstone as well as Stallone’s Cobra) we get a shift in the type of character and story.

This film ticks off all sorts of tropes, such as a tragic love story, betrayal by the government who hires him and so on.  This film really pushes Rambo towards being a super hero.  He is not merely highly skilled as a fighter…he is unbeatable.  Bullets will miss him, but he will never miss.

First Blood Part 2 revs up the action and general violence, while toning down the tragic aspects of his character.  The focus on POWs, of course, allows some of it to remain, tying it to the first film.  But, tonally speaking, this feels unlike our introduction in First Blood.

The cast is good, though some of the characters are just gun fodder, meant to motivate Rambo.  In some ways, this is the film that moved forward the Stallone Action Era, that made him into the character we think of Stallone as today.

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