“Baby Blood” AKA “The Evil Within”
Imagine what would happen if Frank Henenlotter (“Basket Case” series), David Cronenberg (“The Brood”), and Larry Cohen (“It’s Alive” series) got together and directed a movie… It would probably look something like 1989 French horrorfest “Baby Blood”! “Baby Blood” was directed by Alain Robak, and written by Robak and Serge Cukier. It was released in the U.S. by A-Pix in an English-language version (with 2 full minutes of gore callously cut) retitled “The Evil Within.”
“Baby Blood” is a very, very strange movie. In its uncut French-language version, this film is a walking contradiction: It can be campy, even a bit silly at times. But, at other times it can be downright brutal, and oddly effective at making your skin crawl. It is a blood-drenched exploitation film filled with a most unsavory plot and characters. But it is also stylish, original, and self-aware in a darkly comedic way. And, perhaps best of all, it’s never, ever boring.
The plot in a nutshell is this: Circus performer Miette (played with a feral sex appeal by French starlet Emmanuelle Escourrou) finds herself an unwilling mother, when a serpent-like creature slithers up her vagina, and takes up residence in her womb. (Yes, you did just read that correctly.) But wait, there’s more! This creature can also communicate with Miette telepathically. What does it want? Human blood- and lots of it. And if it doesn’t get what it wants, it will literally rip out her ovaries! So now Miette must kill men and drink their blood to nourish this unholy thing, as it grows to its next developmental stage inside her- until it’s ready to be born…
“Baby Blood” is just as strange, twisted, and gruesome as the above synopsis would lead you to believe. It’s a headlong plunge into a nightmare world where (even when random people aren’t getting stabbed and vampirized to feed an evil baby), everything and everyone looks filthy, damp, or unpleasant.
The actors do a good job, but (apart from the voluptuous Escourrou) they look strange, or repulsive. However, I think this works to help ground this incredibly bizarre film. I would never buy such a ridiculous story if it were populated only by hunky dudes and supermodels; “Baby Blood” would just feel… fake if it didn’t happen to real people.
The overall atmosphere and locations of this movie are as seedy and grimy as a trap in a “Saw” movie. The gruesome makeup effects (by Benoit Lestang and Jean-Marc Toussant) run the gamut from wincingly nasty-to-watch, to hilariously over-the-top, depending on the scene. I’m fairly sure this was done on purpose. Much like in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, there’s a rich vein of black comedy running through this entire movie. But when “Texas Chainsaw” and “Baby Blood” want to disturb us, they have our full attention. The lighting, camera work, and sound (at least in the uncut French-language version) are also excellent.
The voices used in the English-dubbed version are (naturally) awful compared to original French. A perfect example of this is the voice of the baby: In the French version, the voice is that of an impish, childlike… thing. It’s creepy as hell. But in the English-dubbed version, the baby’s voice sounds somehow mature, suave, and cultured- like an NPR talk show host! (?) Uh, no thanks, “Evil Within.” I’m sticking with “Baby Blood.”
After only having the cut-up, English-dubbed “The Evil Within” available in America for almost two decades, Anchor Bay released the uncut French version “Baby Blood” in 2006. Sadly, this edition is now out of print. But if you do stumble across it (perhaps on YouTube), and you don’t mind subtitles, check out this freakish lovechild of grindhouse grue and high cinematic art. You won’t regret it.
Be sure to check out the trailer here!