Blood Glacier 2013

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Well this is a lovely surprise. Despite the bizarrely non-threatening title, Blood Glacier is actually a very solid and enjoyable creature feature. The creatures are a bit on the wobbly side but the acting and directing certainly are not.

A team of scientists are at an isolated research lab in the German Alps. When a glacier begins to melt, a blood-red goo pours out, mutating the wildlife and humans alike. So you can tell from the remote frozen location and mutant monsters this is going to be a The Thing inspired affair and you’d be right. The film makers are fully aware of this too, but if you are going to homage and/or rip-off a horror movie, make sure its one of the best, and John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the very best.

There have been a lot of Thing inspired movies but what this one nails, that so many didn’t (including the recent remake/prequel thing) is having interesting characters that you want to see how they react to the hell they will go through if they want to survive. We are first introduced to a bearded socially awkward chap called Janek who has spent far too much time up the mountain. He is arrogant, seemingly a bit mad and would rather head butt someone than settle an argument rationally. His only friend seems to like the big dopey hound he owns. The three scientists with him are all handsome and smarter and for a time we are lead to believe Janek will be the first one to be killed or at least be like the Husky keeper in The Thing.

But this is a sleight of hand, because when push comes to shove you are better off with that nutter on your side rather than the other three who are only interested in serving their own ambitions of grandeur. Are scientists really this stupid in real life? If so, how have they become scientists in the first place? The moment anything that is against nature with massive teeth shows up in the movies, the chaps in lab coats start talking about the greatest discovery in a thousand years and their place in history. At which point they are promptly munched into pieces.

Fortunately there are a bunch of other characters on their way to visit the base, including a government minister (played with enthusiasm by Brigette Kren) on a rather odd inspection of the camp. She is blatantly meant to be an  Angela Merkel type: dumpy, middle aged, blonde and grumpy. But they don’t leave her as a one note character. When a victim she has never even met before lies in front of her bleeding to death, she throws her all into saving this girl, she can’t bare to let anyone die, not because she’s macho tough, but because she cares about young lives and the abhors the thought of them being cut short.

Its best not to care to much about the mutant life up here though, the monsters are fairly well designed, with weird mixtures of goats and cockroaches and giant flying hornets, however they are also a little bit rubbery and lifeless. When one of them tries to break through the door of the lab they’re hiding in you can clearly imagine the crew ramming the beast prop into the door. At least you don’t see them as well. On the positive side the monsters make up for their lack of moving parts with lots of goo and gore, and know how to munch down on their victims, like all good monsters should.

However, in amongst all the giant bugs and bedevilled goats the best creature is a real life one.  Tinni the dog as Janek’s best friend is one of the greatest canine performances ever committed to film.  He’s a big lolloping hound of an animal,  all big sad eyes and howling at lost loves. Most times a dog pops up in a horror movie it’s so he can bark at an empty space before being found hung up by his own intestines a bit later on.  In Blood Glacier Tinni is the heart and soul of the movie, not only does he outwardly express the feelings the emotionally remote Janek cannot but he’s also intricate to the resolution of two of the main characters. In amongst all the mutations and splatter it’s really rather moving.

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I’d say, as a dog lover, its worth watching Blood Glacier for Tinni alone but actually as a dog lover the poor thing is put through the ringers and looks profoundly sad about it at all times (god I hope that’s just acting). But then if you like a good creature feature then climb up the Blood Glacier and have a look anyway: come for the monsters, stay for that sweet, sad dog.

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