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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Baby Blood aka The Evil Within (Blu-ray)
Baby Blood aka The Evil Within (Blu-ray)
Kl Studio Classics // R // October 8, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 19, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Early on in Alain Robak's film, Lohman (Christian Sinniger), a twisted and sadistic traveling circus owner abuses his pregnant wife, Yanka (played by the unusual looking but not unattractive gap-toothed Emmanuelle Escourrou). She is, we learn, quite put upon. When the circus takes possession of a leopard that has just been imported from somewhere in Africa, her life gets much stranger.

When the animal dies in a freak incident, a parasitic creature that was dwelling inside of it pops out ‘Alien style' from the corpse and finds its way into Yanka's body. One of the animal trainers notes that the animal just exploded, and there's slimy goop all over the cage where it was kept. Soon Yanka realizes what has happened to her and that a creature has taken over her unborn child. Yanka soon heads out of the circus to get away from her abusive husband, but she has a new and even worse problem now. The creature, her ‘baby', craves fresh blood and is able to make Yanka kill to keep it alive. As she becomes accustomed to killing for her baby, she winds up going on a bit of a murder spree while the thing inside of her grows at an alarmingly fast rate. As she's able to communicate with it, they develop a strange relationship. She knows that when she smokes or drinks it has an effect on the creature because it tells her as much. As their relationship becomes less hostile, she eventually learns that she needs to get it to the sea and sets out to do just that, ensuring that it has enough sustenance along the way.

When this picture was released in North America as The Evil Within, missing quite a bit of gore footage and with certain scenes rearranged, the film didn't really work so well. That said, seeing it uncut, with the extreme scenes of bodily violence reinstated, the film has a lot more impact and just plays a lot better. There are some pretty disturbing and gory moments in this movie that really make the almost Cronenbergian body horror quite effective and, well, just plain gross. The film is also peppered with a nice sense of black humor throughout, which helps to lighten the load a little bit in a few scenes, the conversations between Yanka and the thing inside her providing most of this.

A big part of what makes Baby Blood work is Emmanuelle Escourrou. She doesn't talk a lot in this film, her character is on the quiet side, but she does a great job with the material. She's also quite bold and clearly has no problem running about buck naked covered in blood when the script calls for it. She uses her facial expressions to communicate really well and, without wanting to spoil things, really throws her whole body into a key scene later in the film to make the events convincing enough to succeed. The supporting characters, mostly men that want to take advantage of her or simply use her for a lay, are also all well-played but Escourrou is a few rungs higher on the ladder here than everyone else in the film. It's hard to imagine the picture working as well as it does with anyone else cast in that part.

Director Robak, credited as Roger Placenta, does the voice of the fetus and he's pretty entertaining here. You might expect an unborn baby to have a ‘sweet' or ‘impish' sounding voice, but that's not the case here. Robak plays it as a hissing, snarky and rather angry character, delivering his lines with an almost sniveling style that proves to be quite effective.

At just under ninety-minutes, the film is paced strongly. It makes quickly and keeps the audience engaged throughout. The exploitation factor is pretty high here, with enough nudity, gore and solid practical effects work to please those interested in cheap thrills. At the same time, the movie is quite clever, doing a fine job of establishing the strange relationship between mother and child that makes it such a unique and wonderfully weird horror picture. In 2008, Robak co-wrote a sequel with Serge Cukier entitled Lady Blood which was directed by Jean-Marc Vincent in which Emmanuelle Escourrou reprised her role from this picture.

The Video:

Kino Lorber brings Baby Blood to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and taken from a new 2k restoration and the film looks excellent. The transfer is pretty much immaculate, showing no print damage at all, and color reproduction looks fantastic. The reds of the blood seen throughout the film pop nicely without looking oversaturated and black levels are nice and deep. Skin tones look nice and natural and detail is much, much stronger than it has been on past DVD editions of the film. There's better depth and texture here as well. The image shows no noticeable compression artifacts and appears free of noise reduction and edge enhancement issues. Really, Baby Blood looks excellent on Blu-ray.

The Audio:

A DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo tracks is provided in French with optional subtitles provided that translate the French track. No problems to note here at all. Dialogue comes through very clearly and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion at all. The score sounds quite good and the sound effects used in the different murder set pieces come through clearly with an appropriate amount of ‘squishiness' to them. The track is nicely balanced and provides solid depth and range.

Additionally, the disc includes the English language dubbed version of the movie in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. The quality of the dubbing isn't great and the French version plays far better but it's nice to see this included here for those who prefer it even if it isn't a lossless track. Gary Oldman is credited with doing the voice work for the fetus on the English track, so it's interesting for that reason alone.

The Extras:

The main extra on this disc is an audio commentary Film Historian Lee Gambin and Film Critic Jarret Gahan. It's a pretty engaging track as the pair converse quite enthusiastically about the film and its merits. This isn't one of those tracks that does a deep dive into the film's making or that rambles off a lot of information about who did what, though the pair does do that from time to time, but rather a broader conversation about where the movie falls alongside other horror and gore pictures of the era like Re-Animator and Evil Dead II. They also detail the use of black comedy in the film, how the picture compares to other killer kid/evil baby movies, make some apt comparisons to the films of David Cronenberg, discuss the themes that the picture explores (including some interesting thoughts on how certain aspects of the film serve as an allegory for prejudice), the quality of Emmanuelle Escourrou's performance and more.

Aside from that, we get a trailer for the feature, a few bonus trailers (Nightmare Beach, Rawhead Rex, Night Angel and Link), menus and chapter selection.

Overall:

Baby Blood works well as a twisted horror film with comedic elements. Highlighted by a great lead performance from Emmanuelle Escourrou, it's a wonderfully weird picture that hits all the right notes. Kino's Blu-ray debut looks and sounds very good and if it's a bit light on extra features, the commentary is enjoyable and adds some value to this release. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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