A pretty incredible 1990 French horrorfest, BABY BLOOD was for years available to horror fans only via fourth generation un-subtitled bootlegs--and even worse, on domestic video in a dubbed version entitled THE EVIL WITHIN. A highly respectable gore quotient, stylish direction and a strong lead performance by then-newcomer Emmanuelle Escourrou propel this perverse item far beyond the usual, run-of-the-mill chunkblower.
The acting honors go to Emmanuelle Escourrou as the
put-upon heroine. An unknown who hasn’t been heard from
since (at least, not on these shores), she proves appropriately
menacing as she commits murder after murder, yet still engages
our sympathy. Loving mother, sex kitten and lethal
murderess: Escourrou plays all of the many facets of her role
convincingly. The only other performance of note here is
that of the baby’s voice. In the original French version
it was Robak himself who voiced the creature’s words. In
the EVIL WITHIN version, somebody else did the honors,
uncredited; rumor has it that actor Gary Oldman may have been
the culprit. At any rate, the intonations there aren’t
nearly as menacing, or as bizarre, as Robak’s, which sound like
Eddie Munster on laughing gas.
So where can you see this sickie? Well, it’s now
out on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment, under its
original title and subtitled to boot. Really, what more
could any serious horror fan want?
The opening scenes are clumsy, but stay with it.
A fiendish something-or-other is shipped from the jungles of
Africa, via a corrupt white hunter, to a carnival in France,
where it impregnates Circus hand Yanka. It’s here that the
story really picks up, turning into a perverse variant on LOOK
WHO'S TALKING. For Yanka’s unborn child, communicating
with her from the womb, turns out to be quite a chatterbox,
asking Mom inappropriate questions about everything from sex to
breast feeding. In addition, this fast-growing fetus needs
blood to stay alive, compelling Mom on one of the nastiest
murder sprees ever.
The violence here is fast, relentless, and plenty gory.
There’s also not one but two ultra-grotesque, Alien-style mutant
birth scenes. Unfortunately, the story looses its
relentless drive toward the end, when the newborn creature–it
looks like an octopus–goes on a FIEND WITHOUT A FACE-esque
As far as I know, this is the first and only picture
from director Alain Robak, who also co-authored the screenplay.
The opening scenes of the creature being transported from
Africa, a poorly edited mess of shifting POV’s and pedestrian
set-ups, are clumsy, revealing the director’s amateur status.
But Robak’s confidence appears to grow once the heroine is
impregnated; the resulting killing-spree is done with much style
and black humor. He doesn’t skimp on the gore, either…call
it arthouse splatter. It’s been done before (most notably
in another French horror film, 1989’s
BAXTER), but rarely with
such ghoulish finesse.
BABY BLOOD (a.k.a. THE EVIL WITHIN)
Director: Alain Robak
Producers: Ariel Zeitoun, Joelle Malberg, Irene Sohm
Screenplay: Alain Robak, Serge Cukier
Cinematographer: Bernard Dechet
Editor: Elisabeth Mouunier
Cast: Emmanuelle Escourrou, Jean-Francois Gallotte, Christian Sinniger, Francois Frazier, Gary Oldman(?)