11 More Days ’til Halloween, 2016: BLOOD LINK aka EXTRASENSORIAL aka THE LINK (1982)

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A few years ago I searched high and low for BLOOD LINK on Youtube in order to present it along with my (then) comprehensive list of 80s Italohorror streaming online. This year I’m pleased to announce that it is available again through the website of Horrorfanbaby: a collector of rare horror that has been such an important source for this blog that I previously dedicated an entire post as tribute to his Youtube channel.

Before I talk about the movie, though, I want to give credit to another valuable Youtube channel that I’ve linked to this year and which I urge you to check out.

I’m particularly fond of Italian horror and so I would very likely have posted many examples of it on this year’s blog in any case, but I’ve been surprised and delighted (imagine me throwing my hands together and opening my eyes wide, raising in my seat) to discover a new Youtube channel with streaming copies (some very nice) of many Italian Giallo films that up until recently have been nearly impossible to find.

That channel is EUROSLASH:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtkguJzjcJIuOoblOo3Ef1w

Between EUROSLASH and it’s sister channel RETROTHRILLS, you have enough quality entertainment to last you for months. What makes this site particularly important, apart from the Giallos, is that it makes available one of the largest selections of German Krimi films (kind of a German version of the Giallo…but also an influence on Giallo filmmakers) that I’ve ever seen online in the States. From the moment I started this blog I’ve been wanting to do an entire post dedicated to Krimi films but not one of any quality was available on Youtube. Now there are so many on EUROSLASH that I wouldn’t even know which to choose for sharing. Just go to the site and pick one…you can’t go wrong!

Okay, that business is out of the way…on to the movie.

BLOOD LINK is winter horror at it’s finest…at least for the first half. I have no idea if it was filmed in Canada but it might as well have been. It has that Canadian feel. Perhaps it was filmed in Germany…IMDB doesn’t say. In any case, it makes good use of flat suburban-sprawl landscapes, covered with snow and smud  with 80s office buildings and spatterings of not-yet-developed nature, that makes it all very familiar and cozy to a midwesterner like myself. It’s almost ugly…but then it’s absolutely not. In fact, BLOOD LINK is beautifully filmed. It is a shame that it has not been rereleased and restored because I would love to see it in its original aspect ratio as intended. There is a close attention to visual composition and effect in this film that doesn’t entirely come across in the full screen version. The color white is used in interesting ways that suggests it may be even more effective in widescreen. Instead, the beauty comes through almost subliminally as a sign of what might be. I’ve never seen it “letterboxed” myself. I consider that one of my “holy grails” of horror…which means it will likely happen eventually. If I appreciate it that much someone else has to…someone with the money and discipline to make it happen! Watching this full screen version has the same kind of bittersweet appeal for me as watching Dario Argento’s films back in the 80s when they were only available in full screen. You just KNEW you were missing something great…but you could only DREAM about it. Sometimes dreaming is a good thing…

BLOOD LINK, though directed by an Italian, backs off from the editing and narrative eccentricities one might expect from 1980s Italy. It is much more subdued in its imagery for the most part…often evoking, in my mind, Cronenberg. Perhaps it’s those winter landscapes, as well as an introduction to the main character strangely similar to VIDEODROME, that provokes the association. However, if you explore the psychological subtexts of the film, there are also some blood links with Cronenberg when it comes to the themes as well. I imagine the director had Cronenberg in mind…but I have to admit that David Cronenberg is like Tootsie Rolls to me. He’s everywhere I see…

Michael Moriarty plays a psychologist who has undergone an experimental therapy that seems to have unleashed visions of murder that disturb and fascinate him. What follows is, for the most part, somewhat similar to the EYES OF LAURA MARS mold…but there is the added touch of his actually feeling the emotions of the killer as well as seeing through the killer’s eyes. That certainly adds a twist. As the film becomes an exploration of man struggling with his dark double (see FRANKENSTEIN: A TRUE STORY) it tends to avoid many of the cliches associated with that theme and manages to really develop some empathy for its characters. Of course it also threatens those empathetic characters with murder (and sometimes follows through).

The suspense in BLOOD LINK is remarkably well done. The classic Ennio Morricone score helps, but the stalking and murder scenes are effective in their own right. I don’t just watch BLOOD LINK as a detached aesthete, it definitely gets my blood pumping. There are some scary moments and some of these are very cleverly contrived.

BLOOD LINK is one of my favorite 80s Italo-horror movies for a reason other than what draws me to most of my favorites (like, for example, the previously posted THE PRINCE OF TERROR). I usually enjoy 80s Italo-horror at least partly for its (masterful) utilization of camp and shallow stereotypes. BLOOD LINK is not “camp” …or at least not “low camp.” It is actually a damned good, slickly crafted horror movie.

Let’s hope for a letterboxed version to come out that can finally prove it…

 

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