Butcher Block is a weekly series celebrating horror’s most extreme films and the minds behind them. Dedicated to graphic gore and splatter, each week will explore the dark, the disturbed, and the depraved in horror, and the blood and guts involved. For the films that use special effects of gore as an art form, and the fans that revel in the carnage, this series is for you.

If you thought Frank Henenlotter cornered the market on pitch black horror comedies that centered around bossy worm-like parasites and their chosen hosts, you’d be wrong. A year or so after the release of Brain Damage came the Alain Robak-directed Baby Blood, a bizarre splatter filled movie that feels similar in many ways but pushes the boundaries of gore and taste even further. Baby Blood also toggles between many different moods, too, favoring subtle humor and contemplation above all.

Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou) works for a traveling circus with her abusive husband. When a new cheetah is brought in from Africa and suddenly dies in violent fashion, the parasitic worm that inhabited it crawls up into Yanka’s uterus and turns her into a serial killer on the run so it can feed and grow off blood. Yes. You read that correctly. It’s as weird as it sounds.

Despite that setup, though, Baby Blood bides its time as more of a character piece. Yanka and the monster in her womb have an understandably volatile relationship, though it insists it’s not a monster. Like Aylmer in Brain Damage, this creature talks to Yanka. He makes demands that she kill and feed him blood, and she attempts to rail against him with death and suicide threats. Eventually, the parasitic relationship grows to become more symbiotic, turning the weird sleaziness of it into an exploitation comedy. In other words, the blood and gore are fairly tame in the middle act as she goes on awkward dates or takes up taxi driving in her pursuit of victims, all while her belly is expanding with each passing month.

The third act brings that extremity we’ve come to associate with French horror. Exploded bodies, decapitations, guts and viscera everywhere, and the arrival of the gestated parasite. The special effects, gore, and makeup were handled by Jean-Marc Toussaint and Benoit Lestang. Lestang had also happened to work on the makeup effects for Brain Damage, making him well versed in comedically pushy parasites. Post Baby Blood, Lestang handled special makeup effects for notable films like The City of Lost Children, The Wax Mask, Brotherhood of the Wolf, and the mother of all French extreme horror – Martyrs. Meaning that if you want visceral, well-done gore, Lestang was your guy. Sadly, Lestang committed suicide in 2008, before Martyrs had made its way out fully into the world and knocked it off its feet. Still, the legacy he left behind is impressive- Baby Blood included.

The eccentricities of Baby Blood won’t be for everyone, of course. You can probably gauge interest based on the premise alone. It’s goofy, it’s introspective, and its supremely bloody- just not the entire way through. When it was released stateside in 1990, it was under the title The Evil Within with a couple minutes of the splattery stuff trimmed. It wasn’t until around 2006, when Anchor Bay released it on DVD under its original title that the viscera was restored. When we think of extreme French horror, we think of the wave of horror that emerged in the early aughts. But there’s decades worth of brutal titles worth discussing, and Baby Blood is one of them.





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Author : Meagan Navarro

Publish date : 2019-09-06 22:00:17