The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Blood Games (1990)
This is another in our Netflix Dump 8, and I chose this one for two reasons: one, it has the late great Ross Hagen; and two, it looked like the kind of late-night schlock thriller I remember being on cable TV on the early 90s. Of course, it could just fall flat and I'll have wasted my time and end up writing a review no one reads about a movie they have no intention ever of seeing. But still, Ross Hagen.
Blood Games is about a team of barnstorming women baseball players who make money by betting locals in games. In a small Southern town, the local town boss won't pay Hagen after the ladies win, so Hagen has to get his money by attacking the boss in the bathroom of the town's one bar. The problem is, one of his daughters and another girl get worried (why would you worry about Ross Hagen taking care of business?) and are assaulted by a couple locals, including the son of the town boss. Hagen has to save them, and he's fatally stabbed in the process; but as the girls escape, they kill the town boss's son. Now all the redneck males in the area have been mobilized to stop and kill the girls. Can they get out of town before they're caught? And what happens when some of them decide to fight back instead of run.
So this is that early 90s cable schlockfest. This is like 3AM on TNT pre-New Classics, and if that kind of thing were still as prevalent on cable TV, it's a definite rabbit hole thing that you could find yourself in if you were up that late battling insomnia or procrastinating on a term paper. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's got bad dialog, and most of the actors and actresses have only this film on their imdb bio, but the tension is real and it drew me in all the way. It does have some mean-spirited elements, like a woman who is gang raped, then rescued, only to be killed right after. But I think even as a guy, it's really entertaining to watch a group of women take out a bunch of ignorant rednecks, probably the same way it was entertaining to see Jamie Foxx do it in Django Unchained.
Ross Hagen, as I mentioned above, isn't in this much, which is disappointing, because he's great early on. When is Hagen not great though? I imagine the film makers only had enough to pay him for one day of filming, which is why he's not in it as much. The other name in this is Gregory Scott Cummins, and he plays the town boss's son, meaning he's done early on too, so it's probably the same deal with him. Ross Hagen passed away in May of 2011, just shy of his 73rd birthday. Even though I've just scratched the surface of his DTV output-- which was very prodigious-- I loved him in his great biker flicks from the 60s and 70s. Here's to you Ross Hagen, you were one of the great ones, and you will be missed.
With Wild Girl Waltz and Venom on here recently, we've had a lot of talk about the Bechdel Test, and surprisingly, I don't think this movie passes it, despite how many women are in the film. I guess in the moments when they're talking about their wounds or a play one made, but really, all of the conversations are centered on the threat posed by the guys. On a female empowerment level it might work better, because the women refuse to simply be victims. It's an odd interplay though, because we're still left with the overarching idea that these women wouldn't be in this mess if the two girls had listened to Ross Hagen in the first place, though perhaps the better point is that they were in the mess because they trusted Hagen who brought them to that shady town, and it wasn't until they took agency over their own affairs that they got shit done. All things to consider in unpacking the film industry's default setting of patriarchy.
Let's get back to that then, this idea of being a barnstorming women's baseball team. This was an outdated idea for 1990, at least in the form we saw here. Maybe they could play against independent leagues, but how would you organize something like this otherwise? Get the town together for a baseball game? Really? I could see maybe as a novelty at a local fair. But that's how movies like this often start, with an unbelievable premise, and it's what happens after that counts, which is where this film made its money. We can all sympathize with being chased by rednecks in a small Southern town and how scary that would be.
That brings up another greater point about Major League Baseball in America between the time this was made and the time I'm writing this review. In 1990 MLB was it in the sports world, bigger than anything else. Now it's the NFL, and even in the summer when MLB technically has no competition, the NFL is tops, for instance with ESPN having more shows dedicated to the NFL than MLB. So as out of date the idea of a barnstorming women's baseball team would have been in 1990, the idea of centering a movie like this on baseball instead of football or basketball today would be equally out of date. Maybe a barnstorming women's basketball team playing pick-up games would be the perfect film in 2013.
Now that Netflix has dumped this, used VHS is the only way to go, and it can be pricey, like $20 or $30. That's why I say this should be for VHS collectors only, and really hardcore ones at that. It's a perfect "post the covers pics on my Tumblr/showcase it on the shelf" kind of gem. As an aside, for our Australian readers, including our friend Simon at Explosive Action (who we know is a big VHS collector), imdb says that the Australian title is "Baseball Bimbos in Hillbilly Hell".
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099151/