Blood Hook (1987) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Blood Hook (1987) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on April 18th, 2021 | Movie Review | Killer, Campy, 80's Horror

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During an annual fishing contest in Wisconsin, a killer is fishing for human tourists.

Blood Hook was directed by Jim Mallon and stars Mark Jacobs, Lisa Jane Todd, Patrick Danz, Sara Hauser and Christopher Whiting.

Live bait ... but not for long!

Blood Hook Review

Overcomplication is a problem in film. I like movies that have multiple layers, metaphorical scenes and are representative of the problems society faces. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about making a movie that is trying so hard that everything gets convoluted. You may think that a movie about a murderer catching people with a giant fish hook is pretty one-dimensional, but allow me to introduce you to the low-budget 1987 film Blood Hook.

In the opening scene, a man in rural Wisconsin is seen listening to a record player on his dock when suddenly he falls in the water and dies as his grandson looks on in horror. Fast forward seventeen years, and that grandson, Peter van Clease (Mark Jacobs, best known for his asshole role in Goodfellas), returns to his family’s property during an annual fishing event that draws lots of tourists. (There are no other people ever on this lake for this “big” contest, but that’s neither here nor there.) He brings along a group of annoying friends to vacation together, and once they arrive, they are faced with an aggressive father and son duo of weirdos, with battles of their own, who have been taking care of the family property. (I can only assume the father was a young man in old man makeup, but there’s no confirmation or explanation for this.) You have to put many of the pieces together yourself, such as why there’s a nutty conspiracy theorist with a rifle sitting in a recliner on the front yard that is later somehow invited in to stay and party with the group, but also he’s the father of a baby to a girl who lives nearby that everybody has a crush on even though she’s the world’s most negligent mother. There's also some sort of love triangle between Peter, his girlfriend, and their friend who has a crush on him. He’s pretty emo about the whole grandfather dying thing, and his self-actualized girlfriend wants him to get help, but he’d rather just whine and not do anything about seeing a woman drop into the water the same way his grandfather died. Throw in an unrelated sub-story of a family of four on vacation that gets torn apart, and don’t forget about the guy cheating in the fishing contest! Are you confused yet? We haven’t gotten to the killing!

An unknown assailant, who seems to be spurred on by music and cicadas, starts picking off the tourists using an exceptionally large fish hook. It’s silly, and it’s different, but once the killer and their motive is revealed, it’s sorta like….okay…? The elaborate explanation, which was unrelated to the rest of the film, was very reminiscent of another 80s dud called Scream.

One major problem throughout the entire movie: the murders are something that only the viewer is privy to. Peter is never told that anyone has been murdered, but he and his friends’ panic grows with each kill, and Peter brings up specifics several times. Jacobs is acting his little heart out, but there’s no way he could know the details of what’s happened. It’s not like he’s the killer and that’s how he knows. That’s just how sloppy the writing was. There were SIX writers for this movie, and between them all, they couldn’t figure that out. Too many cooks.

The setting and some scenes had a very Friday the 13th feel, but director Jim Mallon never took advantage of the backwoods angle for any suspense. This was one of few horror films that would have been better off with less story and more tension building. Parts of the movie, especially the mentions of rock music, were meant to be campy and funny, but most of it was played as straight horror, and it just never got anywhere close. There were a couple of noteworthy scenes that were bloody and sometimes gross, but for the most part, it was just a long story where the only plot point I cared about was getting to the end. 

Worth Watching?

If you’re a fan of Parks & Recreation, this is the movie they screen that they call Death Canoe. And that is the only reason anyone should care to watch. Amateur actors are the least of this movie’s issues. Terrible cinematography, incoherent writing, and boring as they come. Mallon is lucky his abysmal entry into directing didn’t affect his future work on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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