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BABY BLOOD

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 Package
     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 Story
     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 brain-sucking spree.

The Direction
     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.


Vital Statistics

BABY BLOOD (a.k.a. THE EVIL WITHIN)
Partner's Productions

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, F
rancois Frazier, Gary Oldman(?)


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