Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WANTED ON BLU-RAY: BLOOD BEACH (1981)



WANTED ON BLU-RAY: 
BLOOD BEACH (1981)

Rated R | Color | 92 minutes

Greetings Vault Dwellers, and welcome to the inaugural post for the News Vault's newest column! The WANTED ON BLU-RAY series will focus entirely on films that are currently out of print (in North America). It will also focus on films that have only been released on VHS or DVD in the past, but have yet to make the leap to high-definition!

And I could think of no better film to kick things off, than the "lost" 1981 creature feature, BLOOD BEACH!

Synopsis: "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.... you can't get to it!" So says legendary veteran actor John Saxon in BLOOD BEACH!

Something strange is afoot (or rather underfoot) at both Santa Monica and Venice Beach. People disappear, sunbathers are mauled, and one unlucky attempted rapist loses his manhood! What is lurking beneath the popular sandy tourist destination, and can it be stopped?!

Jeffrey Bloom's slow-burn fright flick preceded TREMORS by nearly a full decade, and gave us a subterranean terror that sucks its victims down into the sand. BLOOD BEACH features a solid cast, with Saxon as an overtaxed police captain, and Burt Young (Paulie from the ROCKY films) as a cynical smart-mouthed cop, formerly from Chicago.

The film may not be for all tastes as it has a slow pace and a rather anti-climactic ending, plus you barely get to see the film's resident monster. That being said, the movie does rise above its shortcomings with its creepy atmosphere, eerie soundtrack, and awesome supporting characters!

Burt Young as Sgt. Royko.

Availability: This film is currently out of print! BLOOD BEACH had two brief theatrical releases in 1981 and 1982 before quietly making its way to VHS through a now defunct company called Media Home Entertainment. It was a staple of the Horror section in most video rental shops, but as DVD began to take over, BLOOD BEACH never made the leap to the new format here in North America. It did however get released on DVD in other countries, including Germany (Region 2) and Japan (Region Free). BLOOD BEACH has also found new life (and fans) via the bootleg circuit at various conventions.

Current Rights Holder: Get ready to follow me down the rabbit hole Vault Dwellers! From what I've gathered from several sources, the reason we don't have BLOOD BEACH in any modern format here in The States, is due to the uncertainty of who actually owns the distribution rights. General consensus is that the film is in some sort of legal limbo, though others have theorized that director Jeffrey Bloom has regained the rights to the film and is looking to release it on his own at some point. (Note: This is just hearsay and I do not have any confirmation on that!) And still others say that the real issue is that there aren't any decent prints left to strike a new transfer from. (Anyone think of trying the Library of Congress?)

Tracking its history, BLOOD BEACH was released theatrically in 1981 by the "Jerry Gross Organization," and then in 1982 by Compass International Pictures, who also released John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, TOURIST TRAP, ROLLER BOOGIE, FADE TO BLACK, HELL NIGHT, and other cult favorites. On the home video front, Media Home Entertainment (view logo HERE) gave BLOOD BEACH its VHS release, along with other genre fare, including HALLOWEEN, I COME IN PEACE, several entries in the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, and various Cannon Films titles.

Only Media was ballsy enough to release a movie like this.

Now this is where things get interesting: In 1993, Media Home Entertainment quit operations after years of downsizing, and sold off their film library. Among the companies that snapped up their titles were 20th Century Fox (under their FOX Video label), Image Entertainment (who released various Media titles on Laserdisc), and a little budget label called Video Treasures. (I knew them best as the company that released various Godzilla titles to VHS with some pretty snazzy cover art.)

Now personally, I don't think Fox or Image has the rights to BLOOD BEACH gang, but I do feel very strongly that Video Treasures might. Why's that? Because that little company eventually morphed into Anchor Bay Entertainment, a label many of us Horror fans came to love back in the late 90s. And seeing as how they released a bunch of Compass International titles to DVD, it stands to reason that they may have retained the rights to BLOOD BEACH.

If that is somehow true, that means that the current rights for Jeffrey Bloom's creature feature, currently reside with Lionsgate! Yeah, you read that right: Lionsgate bought out Anchor Bay/Starz in December of 2016! So the purveyors of the popular Vestron Video Collector's Series may actually (unknowingly?) have the distribution rights to BLOOD BEACH! Yes, I know it's a long shot, but dammit, I want to believe!

I need the clarity of Blu-ray to find out WHAT THE HELL THIS IS!

Blu-ray Wishlist
If the rights issues surrounding BLOOD BEACH are finally resolved, and it actually comes to the Blu-ray format, here is what I'd love to see:
  • A 4K (but I'd totally settle for 2K) restoration of the film from the best print available. (A tall order, I know.)
  • Audio commentary with Director Jeffrey Bloom.
  • Interviews with Cast & Crew, including John Saxon, Burt Young, Marianna Hill, et al.
  • Original theatrical trailer.
  • Behind-the-scenes footage, especially of the film's monster!
  • Poster, behind-the-scenes photos, and/or stills galleries!
  • Location visits to where the film was shot in Santa Monica.

For the time being, it looks like we'll have to rely on 35mm screenings of battered prints, bootlegs, and YouTube to enjoy BLOOD BEACH. But if anything changes, you can guarantee that I will let you all know! In the meantime, stay tuned for more WANTED ON BLU-RAY entries, along with your daily dose of genre movie and Blu-ray news!


UPDATE (01/31/2018): Thanks to a tip from a Facebook Vault Dweller (thanks Erwin!) I learned that William Olsen from Code Red DVD was in the process of trying to secure the rights to BLOOD BEACH as recently as March 2017. I have since reached out to Mr. Olsen for more information. Stay tuned for further updates!


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