• Blood Harvest

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: February 27th, 2018.
    Director: Bill Rebane
    Cast: Tiny Tim, Itonia Salcheck, Frank Benson, Dean West, Lori Minetti, Peter Krause
    Year: 1987
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    The Movie:

    College girl Jill (Itonia Salcheck) has just returned to her small home town after a stint away at school to find that her father, the town banker responsible for a string of foreclosures lately, and mother are missing. She asks the town sheriff (Frank Benson) about it, but he’s more interested in making it to his softball game on time than in helping her out.

    Without much else to do, Jill reconnects with her childhood friend Gary (Dean West), a seemingly nice enough guy who has always had a crush on her. He and his brother, Merv (Tiny Tim), live alone now that their parents have disappeared. Merv, upset by this and by the fact that some of his animal friends were killed, now spends almost all of his time ‘in character’ as Marvelous Mervo, a strange clown. He’s a friendly guy, if more than a little creepy… and obviously damaged goods. From there, Jill hangs out with her friend Sarah (Lori Minetti) and they talk about Jill’s new boyfriend Scott (Peter Krause). After that little hangout, Sarah disappears, Scott shows up, and tensions between Jill and Gary start to mount. Before you know it, someone is poking about Jill’s family home killing people in increasingly grisly fashion…

    Directed by Bill Rebane (read our interview with him here), Blood Harvest is a reasonably effective low budget slasher shot, like most of the director’s films, in rural Wisconsin. The authentic farm settings lend the production some appreciable atmosphere. The barn where the killings take place, for example, is sufficiently creepy and desolate looking and the fact that Jill’s home is in the middle of nowhere lends believability to the fact that it’s seemingly a magnet for danger. The movie was made on a low budget, that much is obvious in some of the lighting and effects featured in the picture, but to Rebane’s credit he manages to create some gritty, dark atmosphere in the picture. The film also has some amusing eighties details in it – check out the posters on the room in Jill’s bedroom and see if you can find all three Garfields, a Commando one-sheet and a portrait of Robin Williams!

    As far as the performances go, Itonia Salcheck makes for a pretty decent scream queen. She’s got a bit of charisma, she handles the material well and delivers a pretty solid lead. She’s quite attractive as well, which never hurts. Dean West is a little hokey as the ‘old boyfriend’ and Peter Krause reasonably forgettable as the ‘new boyfriend’ but Frank Benson is amusing in his supporting role as the sheriff (essentially a comic relief character).

    Of course, the real reason – in fact, the main reason – you’d want to see this film in the first place is for the presence of Tiny Tim. He delivers most of his lines with at least a hint of his trademark falsetto/vibrato vocal style and contributes some music to the film as well. While seeing Tim cast here might at first seem like a novelty, the fact of the matter is that he’s far and away the best part of the movie. He’s got a naturally creepy screen presence when he’s all made up as ‘Mervo’ and anytime he’s on screen, the movie is strangely mesmerizing.

    Note that the version of the film that was released in North America was Bill Rebane’s preferred ‘director’s cut’ of the film and it was trimmed of some of the stronger nudity and violence. The version contained on this Blu-ray release from 88 Films is the complete uncut version of the film, which means that Salcheck’s nude scenes are intact and that the throat slitting scene that takes place in the barn is presented in its entirety.


    Blood Harvest arrives on region free Blu-ray from 88 Films in a 1.33.1 fullframe transfer presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taken from a new 2k scan of the ‘director’s original 16mm vault materials.’ While there is some occasional element related flicker from time to time, the minor print damage that shows up throughout isn’t particularly distracting. Grain appears naturally throughout but detail is decent here and color reproduction generally pretty strong. Some scenes were under lit, the nature of the beast on low budget productions sometimes, so expect some of the darker scenes to be a bit on the murky side but otherwise Blood Harvest generally looks strong enough in high definition that its fans should be quite pleased with how this transfer has turned out - sometimes it even looks pretty impressive!

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language LPCM 2.0 Mono track. Optional English subtitles are included, though there are a few typos in the track. Otherwise the audio is fine, if limited in range by the original recording. It's a bit flat but for the most part you can understand things easily enough and the dialogue stays pretty clean.

    There are a few extras of interest on this disc, staring with a thirteen-minute piece called Behind The Scenes Of Blood Harvest which begins with some fairly horrifying footage of a pilot that Tiny Tim shot for a kids TV show he had hoped to launch in 1992. He wanders around a field with a small army of children following him while his rendition of Tip Toe Through The Tulips plays in the background and honestly, it’s creepy. From there, we get some vintage interview footage with Tim and then some interview footage with director Bill Rebane wherein he talks about working with Tim on the picture. There’s also some footage shot on the set during the production and some deleted material in here, before it all closes out with a second quick interview with Tiny Tim.

    The best of the extras on the disc, however, is the seventeen-minutes of footage that documents Tiny Tim performing at the Blood Harvest wrap party. Back by two somewhat confused looking older gentlemen onstage at what looks like a neighborhood dive bar, Tim does a killer cover of Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel here, complete with an attempted strip tease and floor rolling antics, before then going on to perform a few other classics like Great Balls Of Fire. This footage is nuts. If that weren’t enough, we also get a full set that runs over an hour where Tiny Tim performs live inside what may or may not be a circus tent from a performance that took place in Niagara Falls, NY on September 3rd, 1987. Again, Tim puts his all into his performance, his vocals are all over the place and it’s just completely bizarre… and kind of wonderful.

    The disc also includes the two-minute alternate opening credits sequence using the alternate Nightmare title, animated menus and chapter selection options.

    As to the packaging, we get a slipcover as well as some cool reversible sleeve art. Additionally, inside the red Blu-ray case there’s a four-page essay from Justin A. Martell entitled ‘Marvelous Mervo, At Your Service…’ in which Tiny Tim’s biographer presents some welcome background information on how Tiny Tim wound up starring in a slasher movie, Rebane’s thoughts on working with the man and quite a bit more – it’s a good read and a nice inclusion on this release.

    The Final Word:

    Blood Harvest is a fairly conventional slasher film made interesting mainly by the presence of Tiny Tim – who thankfully gets quite a bit of screen time here. The movie is also surprisingly sleazy, going harder with the nudity than you’d probably expect given the director’s other, more family-friendly films. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release looks and sounds about as good as we can probably expect it to – which is quite decent – and it contains nice selection of extras, most of which are focused on the film’s most unusual star.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      1962? Really? More like 1987's release