I'm a fan of irrational, inexplicable, unresolved things happening in movies - mainstream American filmgoing gets so sedate and predictable that it's nice to have something bizarre happen every so often, and besides, isn't that the way life works? Which is all why I enjoyed the '80s horror movie Blood Beach, which I picked up thanks to the abrupt closing of a Video Hut in my neighborhood.
Blood Beach opens, simply enough, on a Venice beach with a Harbor Patrol officer swimming to work (apparently Venice was scuzzy enough twenty-plus years ago that a working-class guy could live right on the waterfront) and suddenly hearing a neighbor screaming because - well, because she's getting pulled down a sinkhole and disappears.
Now from here, the movie could go into any number of directions, but the filmmakers, probably unintentionally, chose the surrealist route; for the next hour, several other people, plus a dog, are going to be going about their business on the beach and then suddenly sucked under, or decapitated, or (in the case of an unfortunate beach rapist) castrated through mere contact with the sand. The police investigate, they dig up the beach, geologists take a look, and nobody finds anything: a complete blank, as if the mere particles of sand themselves are rebelling against humankind.
Of course, eventually some kind of rational explanation is required and the movie's main characters (the Harbor Patrol guy and his ex-girlfriend) for no particular reason find themselves investigating an old broken-down resort building, where they discover a bunch of rotting body parts and what looks like a nest of some kind, leading to a climax that involves a big, rubbery monster - but thankfully, the movie still resists a tidy explanation. Nowhere do the characters make sense of it all by referring to toxic waste or nuclear power plants or any other reason - it's just a big inexplicable, irrational monster out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, which I appreciated very much.
Of course, the human characters in this one are pretty vacant, with the exception of old pros John Saxon and Burt Young, and the movie is fairly dull in the down moments in between the sand attacks. Still, for creating a strange mood in an otherwise drab, realistic, scuzzy 1981 Venice, I enjoyed this one.
Here's a trailer that manages to give away major plot points, as if anyone cares: