So tonight we have a feature starring James Earl Jones.
We’re all aware of his most famous roles, but this is one of the few I
know of in which he plays the lead. Or
at least, is the name above the title. (They
can be very different, as viewers of Italian movies can attest.)
Anyway, we start at night, and a bored-sounding narrator says, “In the early light of man’s existence,” footage of an island in the night, then some torches in close-up, “life was an eternal struggle between good and evil.” And this is different from today how, exactly? We see more footage of what is, I guess, a voodoo ceremony. Something with chanting, drums and fire, anyway. “The ancients knew the way to placate the beast that lurked beneath the eternal sea, and within the consciousness of man.” We see a chick who is rather white to be in this ritual, looking nervous. “Sacrifice,” our narrator continues. “Virgin sacrifice,” he emphasizes. And we see some old guy with a grey beard, also looking pretty white. Turns out this isn't voodoo, it's ancient Greece. So, sorry about that.
The old guy smears something on the chick’s forehead. “The practice of that bygone age died with the coming of civilization,” the narrator goes on, “ but deep in the heart of man, the primeval urge to give new life, to an ancient ritual, lingers on.”
A bunch of guys carry a sort of raft to the water, everyone says goodbye to the chick, she steps on the raft, and is set out to sea. Pretty soon, she’s…um, in an underground cavern. So never mind about the sea, I guess. Sure looked like the ocean, but then, this is all taking place at night. Some pretty footage of stalactites, then she gasps, and stands up in the raft. Her dress is specially designed to drop from her shoulders as she does so, and she looks nervously into the shadows. There’s some heavy breathing, then some monster noises, and she is sailing toward a doorway in the rock wall. So I guess this raft is guided somehow?
There’s a burbling of water behind her, and she looks at the coin she was given earlier. She’s pretty nervous, and I’m hoping she’s aware that she’s not down here to put a coin in some vending machine as a “sacrifice.” I mean, she must know she’s toast, yes?
And as she goes into the doorway, swallowed by the dark, we cut to a modern speedboat, and our credits. “Donald Langdon for Raptage Presents,” followed by “James Earl Jones, Jose Ferrer, Lila Kedrova,” then “in” and at last, “Bloodtide” on its own title card (the others were super’d over the water footage). This leads one to think “Bloodtide” was not the original title.
There’s some guy and a gal in the boat, hugging while driving (not as hazardous as drinking while driving). We’re also told that “Mary Louise Weller” is in this, as well as “Martin Kove,” “Lydia Cornell” and “Deborah Shelton” (who is introduced via this film).
We see more footage of the speedboat circling the island I’m pretty sure we saw in our precredits footage, except of course it’s bright daylight now. And we get some technical credits…largely Italian, damn it. Moss Mabrey is credited as “Costume Designer TBA” which is odd. To Be Announced? Jerry Moseley wrote our score, which is analog synths all the way and, so far, pretty cool. That could change, though. Composers tend to use their big guns in the opening credits (usually when their names appear, too). The script is by Richard Jeffries and Nico Mastorakis.
On the top of the rocky island, a dark-haired woman in a white dress is watching the boat dock. Brian Tenchard Smith, who has directed some, uh, B-movies, is “Co Producer and Creative Consultant.”
The boat docks. The island seems to be a rocky mountaintop sticking out of the water, pretty forbidding looking. (No wonder those folks earlier made sacrifices. They were asking, “Help, can you get us off this island?”)
Our boat couple get off the boat and bicker good-naturedly. Produced by Nico Mastorakis and Donald Langdon. Directed by Richard Jeffries. I wonder if that’s an anglicized name.
Anyway, the two of them get off the boat and we can see a building in the background. More good-natured bickering ensues. They talk about his sister, who might be on the island. We see someone (a youth) leaping over some of the ruins while the two talk photography. Apparently, they’re here to shoot stuff? They find an arch which they think would make a swell pic, so they focus on it and start walking backwards. I predict False Scare 1!
Well…there was a false scare, though I thought it would be, they would walk backwards and bump into someone creepy. Instead, The Astonishing Flying Cat screams its banshee wail and flies across the firmament, frightening them both.
(I own a cat who has the loudest, most piercing voice I’ve encountered in the feline world. And this Astonishing Flying Cat outdoes her by a huge magnitude.)
The cat grouses and runs off, and we see a bunch of children who start laughing. Then they run off too. Disparaging remarks are made.
One female personage remains, and Boat Girl says, “Hello? Was that your cat? That’s a very dumb thing to do to a cat, you know!”
Some older guy, who sounds like Jose Ferrer, appears in a shadowy arch, limping toward them, and he says, “The children do not speak English.” He limps along and finally reveals himself to be Jose Ferrer. He confronts Boat Man and Boat Girl. “Is it your boat which has landed at our dock?”
We are denied the thrilling answer, as we cut to a view of the island by night and yes, it’s the same place we saw earlier. Then we cut inside to Jose Ferrer, who says, “Mr. Grice, it is not often that visitors happen on Cynaron.”
Cut to see he is talking to the Boatniks. “I am the mayor of Cynaron,” he continues. “I would know when somebody entered her walls.” That…sounds kind of suggestive, there, mayor.
”We spoke to a Mr. Evangelou,” Mr. Boat says. “And, uh, he had reason to believe that my sister, Madeline, came here. She had a strange interest in this island. Some particular curiosity.” Yeah, I’d define that as “strange interest” too. “He [sic] mentioned something about a monastery, is there a monastery here?”
”Many islands have monasteries,” Mayor Jose says. A dog barks.
”Uh,” Mr. Boat says, defeated by this non-answer. “If there’s any chance, uh, my family, uh, my people are very concerned. She’s been out of touch for over four months.”
Mayor Jose says nothing, and Mr. Boat pops over to his bag (upsetting some bottles by the sound of it—I’ll bet), and Boat Girl produces the snapshot Mr. Boat is looking for. “This is a picture of Madeline,” he says, “taken about three years ago.” Oh, like Totally Suspicious Acting Mayor Jose will recognize it at all, instead of luring these two to be new sacrifices. Um, did I just spoil something? Oh sorry.
”Her hair is probably a lot longer now,” Mr. Boat says, as we see the snapshot. She’s a dark-haired woman with sharp features and a warm smile.
”You say your sister is an artist?” Mayor Jose says.
”Yes, an artist,” Mr. Boat says, in the tone of voice which equates “artist” with “disgrace to the family.” Mr. Boat, you…you, you YOU, you! I’m an artist! And I’m only somewhat of a disgrace. So there! I hope Mayor Jose eats you!
”She’s very beautiful,” Jose says, putting the photo down. “Minos was once a place for artists—I no longer know. Samburini, possibly. These are places you should be.” He grimaces, then spits it out in a single sentence: “You are disappointed I can help you no more. I am sorry.” No, no, Jose, it is all okay, we all know it was a paycheck. Then he calls out, “Unicee!”
We cut to some moaning old man, and Mayor Jose calls out his name again. (I am assuming it is his name.) He says a couple of other foreign words, and the old guy readies some flagons of alcohol. I should learn that language.
Boat Girl asks Mayor Jose if she called him “Dionysius,” but he corrects her and says he said “Dionisi.”
Boat Girl says it is like Dionysius, “the god of wine and theatre, that’s really neat to have an innkeeper named Dionysius who sells wine.” We get a shot of this self-same chap, and she says, “How Greek!” with a sort of “awesome” flourish.
Mayor Jose seems less than flattered. “You are on Greek soil,” he says, and Boat Girl looks like she has been chastised big time. Dionisi pours wine for the Boatniks and I have to make mention here that Mr. Boat allows a fly to land on his nose and then fly away, and superb actor that he is, he doesn’t flinch a bit. But he does toss the snap of Madeline down and bark, “Seen her?”
Dionisi spills wine on the pic and looks startled, and Mayor Jose barks, “Le Pianist te cuisine!” And Dionisi moves off looking spooked. Which I am sure I would do, if told the same thing.
”He is an old man,” Mayor Jose says.
”It’s okay,” Mr. Boat says, retrieving his wine-soaked photograph.
”The morning’s weather is promising for sailing, Mr. Grice,” Mayor Jose says as Mr. Boat knocks the wine drops off the soiled pic. “Today, fleets must pray for petroleum instead of wind to send them along.” Shot of the Boatniks looking kind of sour at this news. “But, you will have a pleasant journey, nonetheless. Rise with the sun.” He offers his glass in a toast and says something I can’t catch. “Yassum,” it kind of sounds like.
The Boatniks raise their glasses. “Yassum,” Boat Girl says. “To your health, right?”
”A word of many meanings,” Mayor Jose says, “among them, ‘goodbye.’” The dog barks again as the Boatniks drink.
And we cut to some dark footage of a woman’s hand looking at a diamond. The music flourishes evilly as the hand puts this diamond under a magnifying glass. We see a face for this woman’s hand, and it kind of looks like Madeline.
Cut to the outside, as the Boatniks are drunkenly going back to their boat or their chosen hovel or some other place. There is some talk in a foreign tongue, before Mr. Boat confesses to Boat Girl that he doesn’t believe anything they’ve been told, he thinks Madeline is here on this island. As they keep walking, they see a white-dressed form go up some steps. “Madeline?” Boat Girl asks.
”I don’t know, I couldn’t see,” Mr. Boat says. He tells Boat Girl to wait, and he goes to pursue, but of course she follows. The dog barks again. (The dog has to be significant.) More footage of people following other people, but since it’s pretty dark, we’re not sure who is following who.
Finally, Mr. Boat comes across a dimly lit room. He moves in closer to listen, and we hear the unmistakable voice of James Earl Jones say, “The fountain, under which my current runs, or else, dries up—“
”Would you stop it?” asks a female in a cloak.
And we see Mr. Jones. He says, “To be discarded, that’s…” But he hears a noise, and grabs a knife. “You, that have your office opposite the St. Peter and keep the gate of hell…!”
Mr. Boat recognizes Madeline, and they’re glad to see each other, but James Earl grabs Mr. Boat and holds a knife against his throat.
”It’s okay,” Madeline says, “he’s my brother.”
”I’d kiss thee,” James Earl says, “’ere I kill thee.” So we’re all set, then. But then James Earl kisses Mr. Boat on the neck.
Boat Girl takes this moment to appear. “Meet my sister,” Mr. Boat says, and some astonished looks and giggles are passed around, and then we cut to someone slashing meat with a knife in some kind of marketplace or fair or something like that. This is Dionisi, and he fries the meat in a pan. Greek music plays on the radio.
”Well,” James Earl says, “here’s to the family reunion.”
”Let’s cut the s**t out,” says Mr. Boat. He turns to Madeline. “What’s going on here, Madeline? I come to this crazy island to look for you, and your friend here takes a knife to my throat!”
Madeline looks semi-uncomfortable at this turn in the conversation.
”Who are you, anyway?” Mr. Boat asks of James Earl. “Some latter-day Paul Robeson, spewing Shakespeare to the natives?”
Madeline says, “He played Othello one night in college, and never quite got over it.” I’m going to assume that she’s talking about James Earl. There’s some laughs, here, and a shot of Mayor Jose also enjoying the alcohol.
”Crude am I in my speech, and little blessed to the soft phrase of peace,” James Earl says, looking ticked off.
”Cut it out, Fry,” Madeline says.
”Okay, okay,” James Earl says, sounding a lot less Shakespearean. “You weren’t expected, and the natives here aren’t exactly friendly.”
Mr. Boat notes how nobody knew about Madeline, yet she’s here and everything. He also says that she and James Earl stick out from the crowd.
James Earl says that it is the natives who stick out, and “there is no explaining their little ways, unless Madeline can explain it. She’s gone a little native herself, lately.”
”What’s he talking about, Madeline,” Mr. Boat says.
Madeline, who has been nervously fingering her jewelry, says, “I’m fine. I paint…draw…I’m fine.”
No one looks assured by this talk.
”It’s…stupid of Fry to send you off on your honeymoon,” Madeline continues.
Boat Girl is anxious to correct this impression, as this was just a post-wedding vacation. Okay. Glad we’re all aware of this.
”So, little brother’s gotten married,” Madeline says in a rather overly-nice, thus creepy, way.
”Yeah,” Mr. Boat says, as if caught with something reprehensible.
Boat Girl says that the marriage was Mr. Boat’s idea, that they were living together anyway, but he wanted to make it legal, so he is “really straight.”
”Nice to see somebody in the family is,” says James Earl.
Everyone looks at him, as he downs another shot, and Madeline tells him to shut up. He nods and takes another shot. Man, I am with him.
Cut to another dark corridor, where electric Greek pop is playing. Some chick walks by, then pops into the main conversation pit, where she explains that someone got drunk so she couldn’t finish. Well, that was probably me. Sorry!
”He makes ME clean the boat,” this new woman says, looking at James Earl. “Every day, sometimes!”
James Earl shuts off her boombox. “I make you do WHAT?”
She admits that he doesn’t make her do anything, but she has to do stuff or she would go crazy otherwise. She suddenly notes the presence of other lifeforms in the area, and introduces herself as Barbara, though we are invited to call her “Babs.” (Saves typing.)
Mr. Boat introduces himself as Madeline’s brother, and Babs intuits that it must be his ultra-expensive boat at the docks. He punctures a few balloons by noting it’s rented (and Boat Girl grabs Mr. Boat tighter to establish territory). Babs wonders if the boat is expensive enough to have a compressor, to fill diving tanks. Boy, does this sound like the path to trouble! Diving tanks! Have you ever heard the like?
The danger is even more than that, as Babs tells them that scuba diving is illegal here, and even owning scuba tanks can get you into trouble…unless you tell them you’re fishing. That’s okay, somehow. Okay, sure. Mr. Boat asks James Earl if he dives, and James Earl responds that he does “sponge diving” and Babs is all wondering about this, but James Earl has to spell out that it was a JOKE and not A SALES CAMPAIGN. He says to Mr. Boat that he is “a bit of an amateur archeologist” too.
He talks about how Madeline works “on top of the hill” where it’s very interesting, and he pointedly says that she should tell the assembled folks about the big new discovery, which apparently has the nuns all excited. “I’m sure they’re not interested,” Madeline says uncomfortably. “You’re being a bore, Fry, I don’t want to be one too!” Okay, let me see hands, who’s suspicious? Good, good, good. Who thinks I need more beer? I see only one hand, but it’s mine, so class dismissed!
There are significant glances between James Earl and Madeline, and Madeline leaves hastily. “She’s just Mad Madeline,” Babs says, then apologizing, noting that Mad Madeline is Mr. Boat’s sister and everything. The camera makes sure we see Mr. Boat’s considerable chest hair before James Earl tells Babs to shut up. Someone yawns, but it’s okay since it’s me.
And we cut to someone folding up some blankets. It’s Mr. Boat, and he asks Boat Girl for a massage, and he specifies which vertebrae should get treated. He lies down on the bed, she jumps on his back and starts punching him, noting that since they are married, he no longer gets “pampering.” He “oofs!” in response as the fists fly.
She intuits that he’s worried, and offers some therapies to contend with this, one of which is “S & M”! Well, yeah, Italian movies. Mr. Boat recaps the movie for those of you who were dozing, ending with how his sister seems berserk now.
This leads to love play. Boat Girl says that Madeline is into “good drugs” and James Earl has the best price for these good drugs. Uh…huh. Mr. Boat avers how he thinks James Earl is a “crook” unlike Nixon, who was not a crook.
Cut to a very dark shot, with water noises. Hard to see what’s going on, but the music tells us this is Ominous with a capital “O.” Cut back to bed play with the Boatniks. He stops kissing and asks her to listen. We hear nothing, but she guesses it is a boat (maybe the dark boat in the dark scene), but dismisses his simple fears by noting that “no one is going to steal our boat.” Well…no, not if they already have one and it is making boat noises. She wants to get back to kissum-fun, and he acquiesces.
Back in boat-land, we hear James Earl say, “Barbara! Barbara! Flippers!” and we see her hand him a pair of these…uh, can’t read my notes. These things, then. He is already all scuba-geared up and stuff. She tells him she was thinking that she is scared when he (James Earl) keeps going down to “the place down there.”
--what?&nnbsp; Oh good heavens, no, she is talking about some underwater realm! Not what you were thinking! Have I no readers but pervs? Other than my mom and my cats, I mean. Hi mom! Not calling you a perv! Sorry I haven’t called, but you know, work is really busy now--
Uh, hello? Sorry. Well, Babs wants to know why he can’t find cool stuff “up here” and he has to explain that this interesting thing used to be “up there” a long time ago, but then there was an earthquake and, well, things have changed. She reluctantly gives him his flippers and he dives down, but not before he reminds he that there should be “no lights and no sound.”
Well, we find James Earl surfacing in an underground grotto. He turns on the lights that are, um, already there, and he looks around. The he takes off his face mask and laughs. Uh, because he has found a satchel full of coins. Thinking there must be more, he plugs a wire into the system and turns on some more lights. We see a doorway all bricked up. Say, could this be the doorway from the beginning of the film? You know, like continuity?
Who knows? James Earl finds another bag, under water, and he pulls this up, and it has a box labeled “High Explosives.” I guess it is plastic explosives, since he cuts it with a knife and molds it into (no doubt festive) shapes. He then looks at the bricked up doorway and says, “It is the cause.” Before he pops on his mask, he adds, “Let me not leave it up to you, you chase stars.” Those last two words are [sic] of course. Then he says, “His cause,” and sticks the snorkel in his mouth. But he keeps talking. Good luck with finding a translation somewhere, I’ve tried and I can’t make it out.
Anyway, James Earl puts on his scuba mask and pops back into the water, then. Cut to Babs reading something and being bored. Then cut to footage too dark to see, then Madeline looking around at the twilight.
Then we cut back to James Earl, drinking heavily, and saying “Yet she must die, or else, she’ll betray more men.” Well, I agree with that. At least, the drinking heavily part. Who wouldn’t?
Up on the surface, Madeline decides waiting is a bad idea, and back below, James Earl says, “No…you just don’t dare!” He then wishes a “Mr. Jeff Daniels” some good luck, then he detonates the explosives and demolishes the bricked up doorway.
Apparently, both Babs and Mayor Jose feel powerful disturbances in the Force, as (respectively) something crashes into Babs’ boat, and something wakes the Mayor. In the underwater coves, there are monster noises and some fog rolls out from where the bricked up doorway used to be. This goes on for a while, as James Earl shines a light and such, without learning anything about what he has unleashed. “Other day,” he says, then he leaves.
As the monster roars, quietly, we cut to Madeline, having a dream about being a sacrifice (she has the stuff smeared on her forehead, and is standing neck-deep in the water), and also about a symbol (like a ribbon) on (what looks like) an arm, and then some light bars in dark water. Can’t have too much random crap in a dream sequence, otherwise the customers feel cheated. I’ve heard.
She sees more water imagery, someone (not her, I think) plunging below the water line, a smiling nun, fingers on flesh, an erect penis (in a cave painting) and some snarly teeth. Then she wakes up.
Cut to a beach, where Babs is telling Mr. Boat that she calls this place “little Malibu” and she loves his boat, and he is struggling with the starter cord the whole time. Boat Girl looks upon this scene with haughty disdain. Babs is in victim-white bikini, while Boat Girl is in sensibly colored survivor’s one piece. James Earl has pants on and a hat and a radio.
Mr. Boat starts his motor, but…it’s just a motor without a boat, so when he sails off behind it…well, I’m sorry, but it looks totally retarded. I am very sorry! It looks like he is being pulled to the sea by some Radio Shack yuppie bait.
James Earl says he wants his loaf of bread. Babs goes to get it, Boat Girl says she doesn’t have to take that kind of guff, Babs says it has its advantages, Boat Girl says like what, and they both compare beaus and realize that neither of their mates are getting into the top ten of sweeties. We see Mr. Boat flobbing around on his self-motor. And we know that males in this film are a sad lot.
Mr. Boat is coming to shore, and Boat Girl goes up to Madeline and tries some small talk. “Hi! You know you don’t have any strap marks at all?” Getting no response, she goes personal. “Right…meditating?” She still gets no response. “TM? Zen? I tried to meditate for a while—“ yes we can tell, by the way you direct chatter beams at those you assume are meditating—“but I kept, you know, thinking about where my khaki pants were, whether they went to the laundry or the cleaners…something.”
James Earl looks amused at this exchange. Babs shows up with a loaf and a watermelon. He chastises her for bringing a knife, “You don’t cut watermelon with a knife.” And he smashes it with his fist. So, this film is like, educational. Babs is slightly grossed out.
Cut back to Boat Girl, chatting up a storm with Madeline, noting how Mr. Boat has missed her (Madeline’s) last two birthdays and he thought that was kind of a bum trip and such. Boat Girl remains so clueless it’s like she switched scripts with Babs.
Boat Girl hands Madeline a “birthday present” which is a little wrapped box. “We didn’t know what you wanted, so we just got the most expensive one we could find.” Madeline lets the wrapper float away—don’t litter, Madeline!—and Boat Girl deftly catches the trash. Madeline rubs the thing all over her face.
Apparently, it’s a bottle of perfume, and she’s soon pouring it all over herself, and Boat Girl takes alarm at this, noting that “it’s not toilet water” and generally looking distressed as the pouring goes on. Madeline ignores Boat Girl’s queries of “Are you okay?” as she goes into the water, drops her top (where we can’t see) and totally grooves with the waves. James Earl laughs, Boat Girl looks bemused, and when we see Madeline again, she is fully clothed.
Cut to a boat driving along. On board are the Boatniks, Babs and Madeline. Boat Girl, trying her best to ignore Mr. Boat’s shoulder nuzzlings, thinks it odd that Madeline would drench herself in expensive perfume just to further the plot along. Boat Girl is worried. Just then, there is a musical sting which says Trouble. The boat stops so the women can do the work of finding out what is bad. Sorry, sorry. Other people wrote this, not me. I guess there is boat trouble.
You know, this movie is pretty damned dull. I want some Blood Tide, damn it, not a lot of folks being evasive and stuff! I’m starting to hate this.
James Earl jumps overboard so as to ascertain the source of the trouble. It looks like the engine has stopped working. He fools with the blades. This has “extraordinarily bad idea” written all over it, but his name is above the title, so he’s probably okay. We’re barely 30 minutes in, after all. But if the engine starts up, he would get shredded, and we’d have a blood tide then. Just sayin.’
Having seen whatever, he surfaces and says that one of the props (propellers) is cracked, and Mr. Boat says they have “the finest [stuff] money can buy” so they had to have hit something major to crack such a swell prop. But no information comes from this conversation. As everyone leaves, James Earl looks at his hand, which has slime on it and also a musical sting.
Apparently the boat is okay enough to return to the dock, where Mayor Jose is waiting. He says that the boat is damaged, and a young girl went swimming and hasn’t returned. James Earl wonders if they are being accused of hitting this young girl. Mayor Jose says that “no boats will sail on our seas.” The Boatniks are all bummed by this, but James Earl says that these Greeks are crazy, “in twenty-four hours they’ll have a barbecue for you.”
No one cares to decipher this, including us, so we go underwater to a fast-moving POV shot.
I guess we don’t care about that, either, since we go to a church with harsh lighting where a nun is praying. It is like she is surrounded by crucifix shaped spotlights. She seems troubled.
But we don’t care about that either, since we cut to Madeline walking around, being stopped by either the same nun or a different nun. The nun says there is trouble in the village, and Madeline responds that a young girl is missing. The nun tells Madeline that “Sister Anna wishes to see you” so Madeline goes off to comply. All during this scene there is the loud sound of buzzing flies. Symbolism or sloppiness? Reader’s call!
We get a long, long POV as Madeline goes through some tunnels and stuff and finally goes to the nun who was praying in the crosslights earlier. Actually, that was the editor having fun with us. She doesn’t go there, she goes to her own room and fondles a knife. Some nun comes into her room and notes that she went to the village. Madeline says that her brother came to visit her.
She mentions the missing girl, and how everyone is blaming Mr. Boat. Nun says that the villagers blame stuff on things like the sun and moon, so no worries. They talk about the religious icons they’ve discovered, and Madeline notes one that seems to be directed at her, personally. “The original was covered by centuries of candle-fumes,” she says, “the image’s disappearance was considered a miracle, but of course it remained intact under the soot.”
Nun looks uncomfortable as Madeline goes on. “When I began to expose the colors, I found another layer beneath. And by using the stripping process I told you of, I removed the first icon, remounted it, and beneath…” We get a musical sting and a brief image of a dragon-like thing confronting some guy.
”What is it, Sister?” Madeline asks.
”I’m not sure,” Nun answers, though she looks like she’s hiding something. “I think I like the other one more—good triumphs over evil. This one,” and we get another shot of the painting, “is almost as if evil were about to triumph over good.”
”Perhaps it’s just a question of style,” Madeline says.
”Oh, please, Madeline,” Nun says. “Sometimes you forget I’m just a simple woman. All I know [is] that I’m glad St. Michael kills the dragon.” Wasn’t that St. George? “There is something you haven’t told me.”
“Sister Anna, I’ve discovered that there’s a third layer
beneath this one. [Which] would
seem very, very old.”
”Madeline, it disturbs me that you have stopped taking the Holy Communion.”
Man, talk about a conversation killer. Madeline doesn’t answer, but takes down a small wooden box. When she opens it, music starts (on the soundtrack). “It’s the wood from your panel,” Madeline says. “It’s very, very old. It would date the layer of the third icon.”
”This icon is work under Jesus Christ,” Nun says. “It could not possibly be older than him.”
Madeline looks exasperated. “The men in the village knew it,” she says. “They told me it was made extinct by a blight in 1521 BC. Before Christ. The men in the village told me.” Not sure how they would know that…unless they had very long arms. Lookout of the Yard, ha ha ha!
”Take the bread of the Eucharist, the chalice,” Nun says. “And be one with the body of Christ.” Church bells ring at this point.
Cut to a beach scene where some blonde is talking to someone offscreen. Oh, it’s Babs. She goes to a radio and turns it on, and we get disco music as she works out.
Cut to the Boat couple. They are looking at their boat, being guarded, and being all mad about this. Mr. Boat takes several motor-drive shots of this. He also shoots the village. Boat Girl says that if there is no telephone here, there must be a two-way radio.
We see more of Babs exercising, and then some local guys watching her. She pulls off her top (we don’t get to see anything) and dashes into the surf. The local guys look at each other as if they’ve been similarly cheated out of thrills. I can certainly see their point. They were given some money to be extras in a movie. We, on the other hand, paid money to watch this very movie. We’re smoldering a bit about this.
Babs is swimming out to sea. She notices the guys watching her and calls them perverts, dirty old men and hurls the accusation that “I thought you Greeks only liked little boys!” Without waiting for an answer, she plunges into the water and swims.
Of course, an underwater POV camera comes alive at this (it has the sound effects of a jet aircraft) and follows after her. It zooms in on her and pulls her down. The guys on shore point, like, “Whoah, looks like a monster attack!” “Sure does!” They don’t actually say this, though, being silent.
The water turns red (hey, maybe it will make a Blood Tide). And that’s the end of Babs. Never even got to see her topless. This movie stinks.
Cut to James Earl and that bartender from way back, as James Earl drinks and talks fancy and the barkeep giggles. He laughs way more sycophantly than William B ever did. But then there’s a call (in Greek) from outside, and everyone looks worried here. They all run out of their various hovels to assemble. Mayor Jose tries to impose order (by shouting, “Anus, anus!”), but it is still a hard job to do.
The Boat couple shows up too, wondering what is up. Mayor Jose says there was a shark attack that, um, attacked someone, and Mr. Boat says, “The woman who was missing?” but he is told “No, no,” by Mayor Jose.
James Earl then walks into the scene, looking sad as if he’d felt a powerful disturbance in the Force. (Yeah, I know I said that before.) Mayor Jose shows him the radio and (I guess) Bab’s top.
”She disappeared into the sea,” Mayor Jose says. “She never came back.”
”There aren’t any G*d D****d sharks in these waters,” James Earl says angrily.
Cut to a row-boat on the open ocean. On shore, everyone who’s anyone (except Madeline) is watching. Oh, all RIGHT. “Everyone” consists of Mayor Jose, the Boat Couple, and James Earl.
The boat folks are searching for bodies, and they find one, and show everyone the water-logged corpse. But it isn’t Babs, it’s the woman mentioned previously as missing. You remember…don’t you? Next, we see James Earl take a big drink, then he goes running along the very picturesque scenery, yelling “Barbara!” and stuff. He spots a bunch of kids, all staring at something. He goes down, and it looks like it might be Babs. Dead in seaweed and stuff. Her foot, which managed to accompany her to the shore, is loose and rolls in the tide waters. We then get a shot of her dead face, and a-yup, it’s Babs all right.
Now the thing is, these women were killed by a monster. Usually in these kinds of films, the monster eats the victims. Apparently this one doesn’t. One for the books. I suppose it isn’t a hungry animal, but an intelligent thing that is mean. Just mean.
Cut to a landscape shot of the village next to the ocean, and wow does it look like a miniature. There are a bunch of Nuns chanting and carrying coffins along the thoroughfare. Mr. And Mrs. Boat decide to attend along. I guess these two coffins are Babs and Missing Swimming Gal. Mayor Jose shows up as well and starts opening up the coffins. This alarms the nuns (“Stamata, stamata!” they shout), but he waves that this is okay.
He opens the one coffin, finds a coin and we call get a good look. Yes, nice coin, with a profile of someone on it. Great. Great! He starts chanting something, the villagers answer (much to the surprise of the nuns) and he puts the coin back…or maybe he puts it there in the first place. It’s too boring to figure out!
The Boat Couple look at each other like, Whoah this is significant. I don’t have the same optimism. Mayor Jose closes the coffin and goes to the next one, and James Earl has to be restrained. “You do your voodoo on your own people!” he shouts.
But Mayor Jose was paid to film these scenes…I mean, he was determined…so he opens up the other coffin and puts another coin in there. Or finds a coin in there to show us. I don’t care. I don’t care!
He holds the coin up for the camera, and gets a musical sting. “Fare for Charon, Mr. Fry. In order that that he may ferry these poor spirits beyond the river Styx.” He then starts talking Greek, stuffs the coin in Bab’s dead mouth, and also shoves flowers up on her face. And you say airline fares to Greek islands are very affordable? Gosh, how can I avoid going there?
As the coffin lid is re-closed, James Earl says, “Stupid old bastard!” We cut to some local kids running along and finding another local kid, a girl, maybe thirteen or so. But Mom appears and tells the kids to scram, which they do. (The whole thing took place in Greek so who knows?)
Back on the Boatnik’s boat, there are troubles as they sail along so they both call out for James Earl, figuring if he shows up, trouble will end. This is something I can relate to. All I have to do is pretend to want cheese, and all cats inside appear. You can call this “magic” if you want to.
But James Earl doesn’t appear. This entails snapping sunglasses off. They wonder what James Earl is up to, and we see him emerge into the same underwater cavern we saw him in previously. Only this time, he is not a happy person. He hears a monster noise, and gets ready to go back in the water. He does.
Back up top, these dubbed actors are wondering if they should take the other airtanks and go down underwater, just because.
Back with James Earl, he surfaces in a different place, but the music still says he is in trouble. And I’m not sure what he sees next. He looks at a bit of cave wall, and pokes it, and it…seems to gather itself together, like the alien in Alien (1979).
Back up top, the Boatniks are arguing. Mr. Boat says there are no sharks in these waters. Boat Girl counters, “Okay, how do you explain the two women they buried this morning, and besides, we shouldn’t even be out here, we’re almost out of diesel fuel.” Yes, that all requires one explanation.
”You’re not going in the water!” she says, and we cut to someone jumping in the water, because she is not the boss of him. Mr. Boat goes through many oceanic wonders. Finally, he surfaces in the underground pool. He shines his flashlight around, then suddenly…there’s a speargun at his throat! Wielded by James Earl! Wow!
”Yeah, it just had to be you, Mad Maddie’s little brother! You know, you’re quite a family. A screwed up virgin, and a spoiled nosy kid. What are you anyway, just another poor little rich kid? Looking for kicks? What’s your particular bag, huh? Ecology? Huh? Global politics?”
”I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Mr. Boat says, “and take this damn thing out of my face.”
”What I’m talking about is you’re getting on my back,” James Earl says. “Sneaking down here out of school hours...screwing up—for reasons best known to yourself—“
”I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Fry. What is it you think I’ve done? So, you’re a goddamn broken down diver, trying to pick up a few bucks. I don’t give a sh*t! “
There is more talk but it amounts to nothing more than, neither one of them is involved in the conspiracy that is trying to cover up killings or monsters or entertainment. James Earl starts gathering stuff he thinks might be valuable, and he says he is going to scram and Mr. Boat should do the same. Mr. Boat asks about his sister, and James Earl says that it was her who brought him (James Earl) here. And “being here” is all bad and whatever. (Being here is bad from this side of the screen, too.) And he is also very sad that Babs is gone but things are going to get a lot worse (said in a cryptic way) so bad stuff is on hand. Got that?
Cut to the island, as Mr. Boat is walking along a corridor and Boat Girl is saying that Mr. Boat is going to be too aggressive and will alienate “her” which I guess is Madeline. They run up anyway to the nunnery. They find Madeline’s room but no one is there. Boat Girl goes to the current easel and proclaims that it is “the icon she was talking about.”
Nun appears and tells them “you must leave at once,” because something interesting might happen and we can’t have that. Blah blah blah. Mr. Boat says he has come to take his sister home, but Nun says Mr. Boat has brought nothing but death with his “boats and machines.” And she yells at them to get out so loudly that they do.
They go to where the island is sunny and yell for Madeline. Boat Girl thinks this is futile but Mr. Boat keeps yelling…and we pan to where Madeline is, listening.
Who cares? Not us, as we cut to more landscape, and Greek kids climbing mountains, and then James Earl doing some heavy drinking. On the shore, the kids make a mark on the one older girl, marking her with stuff on her forehead like that sacrifice girl, way in the beginning of this movie.
Someone’s mom (one imagines it is Marked Girl) starts yelling for her to come home, but she jumps into the water anyway, and Mom follows after (into the water). Just, coincidentally, as James Earl is passing by on his ship. I think he jumps into the water to attempt a rescue. A very stupid-looking amphibian type hand grabs Mom (I think) and drags her under. James Earl swims up and helps Marked Girl into his boat, and he looks around sternly as blood erupts from the depths.
He takes a breath and goes under some more…and sees a very silly looking monster with a bloody haunch in his jaws. The silly monster waves the haunch for us, in case we don’t know what this is. So I guess the monster IS eating people. Unless it was some water-logged dog toy (which it rather resembles). James Earl surfaces quickly, his expression all, Well, damn.
Cut to some other boat on the placid surface. It is chugging along nicely, and comes to dock at the dock. James Earl is on board, and he is met by Mayor Jose. James Earl gives the Marked Girl to Mayor Jose.
”Her mother is…I searched…” James Earl says.
”And what did you find, Mr. Fry?” Mayor Jose asks. He hands James Earl back his jacket, which James Earl was using to warm the Marked Girl. “You have seen your death, Mr. Fry,” Mayor Jose says. He then leads Marked Girl off while James Earl looks bummed out. As would, one suspects, many of us upon being given this news.
Cut to a sunset over the ocean. Then cut to some noisy Greek music and scenes of Greek merry-making. The Boatniks walk along the beach. Then they go back to be served by Creepy Bartender (I’ve forgotten his name. Dionisi?). James Earl shows up, too, and sits next to the Boatniks.
He talks, very elliptically, about what he saw with the Marked Girl, her Mom, and all. Boat Girl presses him for info, and he says, “You know me…oldest lifeguard on the beach.” He talks more about how, when he saw Marked Girl in trouble, he leapt into the water to try and save her, but then, something happened to the Mom…he’s too drunk to respond to the Boatniks’ queries, so, having imparted no useful information at all, he collapses. Just as the church bells ring.
Meanwhile, back at the nunnery, it looks like Madeline is getting a good print from the thing she was telling nun (and us, earlier) might have some earlier images beneath it. “Oh look, there’s a lame image of a lame sea creature!” she might have said, if she was honest. Instead, she just looks at it.
A creepy hand appears, and touches Madeline, and it belongs to Nun, who tells her “not tonight” because she has this feeling there is evil going around tonight. And evil going around, well, that just sounds bad in totality. Especially if you are an hour into this thing and it is still dull. Like, the evil might be that there is still an hour to go! Luckily we are spared this amount of evil.
Nun wants her to come and pray, but Madeline says, “I can’t. What I’ve started, I must finish.” Cut to an underwater scene, where the POV is swimming along, then it surfaces and walks along the beach, sounding like a whole bunch of chainsaws. Is it trying to sneak up on people? Good luck if you’re carrying all that noise with you.
Cut to some Greek dancing. The audience appreciates this more than I. Suddenly, the musicians start humming and thumping drums, and bringing torches. It’s like the scene from the very beginning of the film, except these folks all have suits and ties and stuff.
”Neil, I’m scared do something,” Boat Girl says all flat and monotone. Mayor Jose shows up and asks her what she’d like done. He says they shouldn’t interfere with their beliefs, because “at best it would be ill-mannered, at worst it would be sacrilege.” He walks right into the shadows so his face can’t be seen during this whole scene. Cameraman asleep at the switch I see. “You come here as tourists we offer you a little local color, a young girl going to Communion.”
The young girl from previous (when her mother got killed) stands up in front of the bonfire. Suddenly (very suddenly, so as to hide the shoddiness) the silly monster attacks her from behind. In order to do this it leaps through the fire. It grabs the girl and lifts her up, and she seems okay with this (her expression—a sort of dull mask—never changes, so perhaps she was drugged or something).
Then the monster puts her down and steps forward, and we see it is just a costume, as the mask is taken off and put aside. Bouzouki music starts up, and also dancing. James Earl starts up from his drunken stupor and looks around like he can’t believe the movie he is in.
”You crazy old devil,” he says to Mayor Jose, “what new evil are you trying to conjure up now?”
Mayor Jose says, that “there is no such thing as new evil” and says that the ritual was designed to ward off evil, “the same evil that you, Mr. Fry, have disturbed, and aroused from its ancient sleep.”
Cut to some very dark footage with more creature POV, just as noisy as before, then suddenly silent as he sees the nunnery (I guess it’s the nunnery, it is very dark).
Inside, nuns are lighting candles and praying. Madeline is still peeling the layers off the old icon. She looks at her work and looks vacantly concerned.
Back at the bar, Mr. Boat says he’s finding it hard to believe that there’s some creature out in the sea that’s going to keep killing until it gets a virgin. Mayor Jose points out that the creature can also walk around on land. He also says this isn’t any old virgin. “The woman in question will know; she will realize her destiny, and give herself freely.” During this, we see Madeline peeling off the icon covering and uncovering a picture of…a werewolf. I think. “She will find fulfillment,” Mayor Jose goes on, as Madeline looks alarmed, “and we…peace.” Pan down the drawing to see the werewolf’s erection, and Madeline doesn’t like this at all. She gets up in alarm.
We see the woman in the icon, and, well, she’s got dark hair but doesn’t really look like Madeline (near as I can tell). Nonetheless, Madeline screams in terror and runs from the room. She runs to where the nuns are, holding her hands over her ears. The very quiet monster POV comes up behind the lead nun, who turns, sees some really bad teeth, and screams.
Of course, we cut to a pig’s head being roasted. More dancing, singing and preparation of foodstuff. The young girl turns and sees a dark form staggering toward the party. It’s a bloody nun. She goes right up the happenin’ table, with our cast, and is helped into a chair. Mayor Jose orders some stuff in Greek. Creepy Bartender says something, too.
”Monsters!” Mr. Boat says, “Madmen!” He grabs (I think) his keys off the table and he and the Missus leave. There’s a shot of James Earl just so we remember he’s in the movie. He then gets up and follows the Boatniks. They are already at the monastery and are looking around with a flashlight. James Earl is looking around too. They find some dead nun bodies.
James Earl picks up a fallen candle, and sees the icon picture. “So, little virgin is finally going to give up herself,” he says.
Cut to Madeline, backlit in a flimsy gown. I think she’s in a boat. Then, she’s drifting underwater. Then, she’s inside the monster’s cave. (This is very like the opening scene of this film.) She lies down on the cave floor and lets stuff drip on her. Up on the surface, Mr. Boat is waving a searchlight around and yelling “Madeline!” over and over and over again. They spot the abandoned boat.
”It’s down there all right, I saw it,” James Earl says (I think for the first time), while Mr. Boat goes on with “Madeline!” James Earl appears to be wiring a bomb, and he orders Mr. Boat to “get to the anchor!”
In the cave, Madeline has a coin and puts it in her mouth. I assume she’s in the grip of some power, because she was screaming about this very same fate before, and now she seems okay. She’s also writhing and moaning, as if, well, as if she’s in the process of losing her virginity (I assume she’s a virgin).
James Earl is now in the water in…a raging rainstorm. Okay. Mr. Boat is in there too, and they are in the cave with…a raging rainstorm. A rainstorm in a cave? Yes, that happens a lot. A long shot shows that Madeline is still by herself, so I’m at a loss as to what she’s doing.
Mr. Boat goes up to her and touches her face, and this breaks the spell. She takes the coin out of her mouth and screams. James Earl yells to “get her out of here!” and Mr. Boat does so. As they leave, James Earl sets up a bomb in the cave. He quotes some Shakespeare. He then swims into the cave.
Mr. Boat is having a completely annoying conversation with Madeline in which he tells her, over and over, to take the regulator he has and breathe; she keeps shaking her head. Finally he smacks her or something and she obeys, and they leave.
James Earl, still swimming underwater, meets the monster (in a series of dark, rapid shots). There’s blood in the water, but James Earl grins and gets out his knife and stabs the monster a time or two, then the bomb goes off. From the way the explosion looks, it seems that the monster ate the bomb, because it starts right in his center. We see it a couple of times in case we might be frightened that it was still alive.
Up on the surface, it’s now bright day as people react to the sound of the explosion. Boat Girl comes to Mayor Jose et al, and he says, “It’s over.” She looks sad.
On the boat, Mr. Boat is telling Madeline that everything will be all right. She gives him a kiss that doesn’t seem appropriate between siblings. A shot of the boat tells us night has fallen again. Damn that was quick.
Finally, it’s day again, and the bells in the monastery are ringing. Not sure who’s left to ring those bells, but never mind. A boat is pulling up to the dock. Then it decides the heck with that, and sails out to sea. Mayor Jose and the young girl watch sadly.
On board, Madeline is huddled in a corner. Mr. Boat empties a bag of coins into the sea. And the boat motors away. And it’s the end. We get our credits and a lousy pop song, which I imagine is called “Coming Back to the Good Times.” And I was wrong about Italians. These are all Greeks who did this. Sorry Italians.
Vince Jeffords created the monster. Probably no relation to Richard Jeffries, the director, since the name is spelled differently and all. The end song was written and sung by star Deborah Shelton (she played Madeline) and the music is by Shuki Levy! He wrote the X-Men cartoon theme. This is not as good. The voice is fine, though.
Well, that wasn’t very good. Slow-moving, stupid, underlit and (at best) indifferently acted with a number of plot-holes. Like, how come no one ever thought of blowing up the monster before? That seemed to work pretty well. There was this underlying idea that Mayor Jose and the island were somehow in on the whole thing, that they wanted the monster around, but I failed to see how they benefited from its presence.
For the most part, the main aspect of this film was dullness. It livened up occasionally when someone was killed, but what kind of comment is that on our society?
Also, what’s with this stupid inability to be straightforward that’s on view in so many of these monster movies? Why couldn’t James Earl say, “Hey, there’s a monster! Look out”? Instead, he couched his knowledge—knowledge that could have saved people—in all this drunken, elliptical recitation. If there’s a monster around, I personally would be grateful if you could just skip all the obtuse mutterings and mention, “Hey, look out, monsters!” After you tell me that, you can yammer away all you want about whatever you want. I won’t be listening anyway, as I’ll be trying to escape the monster. (Maybe I would ask, “Which way is the monster?” so I could go the opposite way.)
The acting, as mentioned, was mostly forgettable. James Earl has that great voice, and he was obviously indulged and allowed to do whatever he wished on set, as his performance is all over the place. He was, in the end, pretty mediocre. Jose Ferrer was actually pretty good; you might, might be able to overlook some of the shortcomings of his machinations simply because he had such a quiet, commanding presence. It’s unlikely, though. The rest of the cast made no impression at all.
The monster was never shown long enough to judge its effectiveness. Usually, this means the film-makers looked at the suit and said, “This isn’t effective. We’d better hide it.” Good plan. The cinematography was frequently so dark and murky that it was well-nigh impossible to tell what was going on.
Probably the most discouraging thing about this film was that it was made in 1982. If it was made in 1967, I might have a more charitable view of it, since monster movies were made very cheaply then, with no eye other than the drive-in market. You could slack off on the monster, and monster action, because that stuff cost money and you were unlikely to make it back in profits. Besides, most people who went to drive-ins did so because they had nothing better to do with their lives.
In 1982, though, monster films could be profitable. Alien was only three years before, and that was a huge success. Putting some money into your monster (and monster action) could pay off, if you were willing to give it a try.
The folks who made Blood Tide didn’t think it was worth it, I guess. I guess I have to agree. If you’re a Jose Ferrer completist, then you should seek this out because he’s pretty good. Otherwise, I would suspect that any entertainment to be wrung from this thing will be, like the monster itself, only fleetingly glimpsed and not very effective. You’d be better off watching Alien. Well, honestly, you’d be better off watching almost anything else. Or even going outside. You know, take a walk, get some fresh air, watch out for the monsters, though.