Some of you may have a difficult time understanding this, but there was a time when the Internet and DVDs didn't exist. During those dark ages, it was very challenging for fans of obscure foreign films to see their favorite types of movies. They typically resorted to ordering questionable copies of the movies. But, more often than not, fans were limited to reading about these movies in reference guides. I was one such person and I learned something very quickly: most notorious films sound much better on paper than they actually are. It's very easy for a writer to make a movie sound like the craziest thing ever, for the viewer only to find that details have been greatly exaggerated. Case in point: the French film Baby Blood, which has recently found its way to DVD in Region 1. (The film was released in America as The Evil Within in 1994.)
Bianca (Emmanuelle Escourrou) works in a carnival assisting the lion tamer. (It's implied that it's a traveling carnival, but we never see it move.) She lives with the carnival's manager, Lohman (Christian Sinniger), who is abusive and jealous. One day, a new leopard is brought to the carnival and the other animals become very restless upon its arrival. The leopard promptly explodes, releasing a snake-like creature. This creature crawls into Bianca's trailer, into her bed, and then into her womb. Frightened and in pain, Bianca flees from the carnival. She soon realizes that something is alive and growing inside of her. Her problems grow when she suddenly develops an overwhelming desire for blood and begins killing people to get it. The creature inside of Bianca begins to speak with her. It explains that it is a centuries old being that wants to be born as a human and that it needs Bianca (and blood) to achieve this goal. It threatens to hurt Bianca if she doesn't comply. So, Bianca becomes a nomad, going from city to city, killing men for their blood along the way, as the creature inside of her grows closer to its birth.
Now I've just set the same trap for you that I fell into years ago. I'm sure that upon reading that synopsis many of you thought, "Wow! That sounds like a crazy movie!" Trust me, it's not. Clearly Baby Blood is one of those films which is best seen with no prior knowledge or pre-conceived notions. When hearing what the film is about, and especially when reading things such as "snake-like creature" and "killing men for their blood", many will imagine a movie which is much more frenetic and violent than Baby Blood truly is.
Actually, the movie is quite boring at times. Yes, there are several deaths (more on that in a moment), but for most of the film, we simply watch Bianca talking to her belly. Now, the French are famous for their farces -- could Baby Blood be a farce disguised as a horror movie? Is the movie a huge metaphor exploring how men and women interact when the woman is pregnant? Is the creature a cypher representing the way in which all abused women should fight back? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that this movie is far too campy at times to involve any deep subtext.
Scattered in-between the scenes where Bianca is talking to the creature or contemplating suicide, there are several scenes in which Bianca murders a man for his blood. Are these scenes violent? Well, most people on the street would find them to be violent, but true gorehounds will be disappointed, as we typically only see the blood spraying on Bianca. The finale, which promises to be truly shocking, is only confusing (what the hell was that thing and what was it doing?). There is one sequence involving Bianca's perception of the birth which contains an eye-opening effect but for the most part, Baby Blood is quite tame when compared to the likes of Dead/Alive or Evil Dead 2.
But the most challenging part of Baby Blood is the character of Bianca herself. The film doesn't allow us to get to know Bianca before she's invaded by the creature. Thus, we see her only as this desperate woman who must keep killing. Is she supposed to be a sympathetic character? That's difficult to tell, because she seems fairly insane from the get go. She certainly isn't someone that's easy to like, thus, we don't care if she lives or dies. And I imagine that some would consider Emmanuelle Escourrou attractive, but I just found her to be very odd looking and that didn't help to make her character more engaging.
Baby Blood gestates on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks deceptively good at first, as it's clear, showing only a slight amount of grain and only the most minor defects from the source material. But, after a few minutes of viewing, I noticed a nearly constant shimmering on the image and occasional video noise. The colors are fairly well represented, although they do look slightly washed out at times.
The DVD contains both an English stereo and a French stereo audio tracks. The English track is taken from the dubbed version of the film which was released in the U.S. in the early 90s. As the version of the film contained on this DVD is the full, uncut release, not all of the film was dubbed into English. Thus, even when viewing the film with the English track, there are time when it reverts to French and subtitles are provided. Both tracks sound OK, but it's very clear that the French track is the original soundtrack to the film, as it sounds more authentic -- the sounds that we expect to hear, given what's happening on-screen are there. The English track sounds somewhat hollow at times, as if some of the sound effects were lost in the dubbing process. And, I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that Gary Oldman provides the voice of the baby on the English track.
The only extra on this DVD is a trailer for the film, which is brief enough to be considered a teaser.
Given the amount of discussion concerning movies on the Internet, there are always going to be those films which sound too good to be true, and Baby Blood is one of them. The movie takes a completely wacky premise and does little with it, as the movie seriously drags at times and the gore quotient probably won't satisfy those who want the movie to live up to its title. Do yourself a favor and adopt another movie.