Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blades (1989)

How did this little Troma movie pass under my radar for so many years? I mean, killer lawnmowers tend to attract attention but I don’t recall ever hearing about Blades, which, while it sounds like an ice skating movie is actually about a killer machine mowing down golfers at the Tall Grass Country Club.

When I stumbled upon this movie in my Netflix “watch instantly” queue, I just couldn’t pass it up! How could I resist a movie whose tagline is: “Golf – A Game of Hooks, Slices and … Slaughter”? Well, I couldn’t resist and settled in to watch this wacky and entertaining B-movie.

A series of gruesome murders is taking place at the prestigious Tall Grass Country Club. Golfers are being dismembered left and right, but with a live televised golf tournament coming up the owner refuses to shut the place down. Resident golf pros Roy (Robert North) and Kelly (Victoria Scott) set out to stop the murders, but are shocked to find that the culprit is an evil lawnmower out for blood. Can the pair of golf pros stop the killer machine before it mows down anymore unsuspecting golfers?

Blades is certainly not the perfect B-movie; for a Troma film it feels pretty restrained and lacks the outrageousness of most of their films. It also tends to drag in some places and the finale feels a bit stretched out. For a satire/parody it doesn’t quite go far enough and the laughs are far and in between (though I really liked the special ops caddies). However, I found myself enjoying the zany film, with its crazy ‘80s country club attire (think Lacoste polos, pastel- or neon-colored visors and high-waisted jeans…oh wait, I guess golf fashion really hasn’t changed!), random humor and its flesh-hungry killer machine (that looked more of like a combine rather than a lawnmower).

Even the two leads didn’t bug me (though they were a little bland) and Robert North and Victoria Scott did a good job in their roles as the resident golf pros Roy and Kelly. The rest of the cast was pretty hammy (intentionally, as this is supposed to be a parody of slasher flicks) and served their roles well (I especially liked William Towner as the country club owner Norman Osgood – “It’s on TV!!”).

Blades even has a sort of Caddyshack-like feel to some of their humorous scenes, and I half expected Bill Murray to pop up to defend his golf course against the ravages of a rogue lawnmower. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it Caddyshack for horror lovers”, as I’m sure some reviewers have, but with the golf course setting and its zany humor it’s hard not to make the comparison. In reality, director Thomas R. Rondinella intended it to be a Jaws spoof, replacing the ocean with a golf course and the shark with a lawnmower. Yes, it’s pretty silly but it is also pretty entertaining as well! I especially liked the POV shots of the lawnmower stalking its victims through the grass and the fact that the leads got trapped on a broken-down van down by the river in the middle of the course by the lawnmower just like the people were trapped on a sinking boat at the end of Jaws.

Still, I felt the comedy in Blades was a little too restrained. With that you’d think they’d amp up the splatter, but besides a few shredded legs and various bloody body parts strewn about the golf course there’s hardly any gore in the film. Even a scene where a young caddy gets “eaten” and large sprays of blood arc out of the woods doesn’t satisfy because the blood looks so fake.

Sometimes you just have to take a chance on a film, and while Blades certainly isn’t a Tromasterpiece it still managed to entertain me. If you like your films a little bit silly and can appreciate the humor in a bunch of golfers running for their lives from a killer lawnmower, do yourself a favor and check out Blades.

Available (only on VHS) from Amazon!

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