In 1978, moviegoers went back to the beach with Jaws 2 – the sequel to the seminal 1975 blockbuster that rewrote the rules of audience expectations. Jaws 2’s tagline was “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” Capitalizing on this, the producers of this far inferior rip-off (one of whom being Sir Run Run Shaw, one half of the legendary Shaw Brothers) gave Blood Beach the ludicrous tagline “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…you can’t get to it.”
Blood Beach begins with Harbor Patrol head Harry getting chastised by his elderly neighbor for having the unmitigated gall to sleep in on his day off. The cad! Thankfully, the annoying crone doesn’t stick around to make anyone else feel shitty for trying to get a little R&R, as the sandy ground gives way beneath her and she’s swallowed up by the beach as her annoyingly yappy dog watches.
Harry, who witnessed the disappearance, consults the LAPD who send two detectives. One, Sergeant Royko, is played by the magnificent Burt Young, a Chicago transplant who won’t let anyone forget it. He’s basically Paulie with a badge, and he’s utterly hilarious. He’s gruff and tactless, and as such, poor Royko is constantly being chastised and reprimanded by his peers and superiors. His partner tells him to wait in the car and his Superior Officer, played by John Saxon, threatens numerous times to send him back to the land of the Cubs and deep dish pizza.
The biddy from the beginning’s little dog sneaks out at night to look for his missing mistress and gets his little doggie-head bitten off. A bikinied beauty who’s being buried in the sand by her friends feels something gnawing on her legs and is extricated just before they’re masticated. “Never would’ve happened in Chicago!” says Royko.
Soon, a media frenzy descends on the beach as the Harbor Patrol and the LAPD work furiously to find the “Creature from Blood Beach.” As more and more tourists and residents get sucked into the sand, never to be seen from again, the beach empties, leaving poor Royko to bemoan the fiduciary predicament of the proprietor of the beachside greasy spoon stand, the aptly-named, “handsome” female, Moose.
Eventually, the remains of 16 bodies are found in the basement of a demolished building. With less than 10 minutes of run time, we finally get a glimpse of the monster which resembles a giant paper mache rosebud. Less than two minutes later, it’s destroyed. Talk about anti-climactic. True, Jaws built suspense through its economical use of the shark, but this is just miserly.
In the end, Blood Beach delivers little in the way of grue or scares unless you fall for the hoary cat scare which Blood Beach indeed has (Why is it always a cat? Just for the sake of variety, how about a different critter…say a chipmunk?) The concept of a subterranean creature devouring surface dwellers is a good one, but was used to much greater effect in the delightful Tremors.
Definitely mediocre stuff, but an extra half star awarded for Burt Young.
** (out of five)