Bill Rebane, one of the worst horror filmmakers of his time, directed his masterpiece with Blood Harvest; aka, Nightmare (1987). Well, masterpiece in comparison to his other films at least. In reality it's pretty awful.
But it's hugely upraised by the wonderfully nutty performance of novelty crooner Tiny Tim as the brain-damaged clown Marvelous Mervo.
Rebane filmed Blood Harvest in Wisconsin at the Shooting Ranch Studios in Lincoln County, where Rebane's The Demons of Ludlow (1983) & many other of his films were made.
He got to know Tiny Tim when in 1986 Rebane hosted a fundraising concert for the ranch featuring Bill Halley & the Comets, Forrest Tucker, & the ukelele novelty singer Tiny "Tiptoe through the Tulips" Tim. He & Rebane remained friends until Tim's death in 1996.
The ranch itself didn't last as long as that friendship. Within a year of filming Blood Harvest, Rebane had a stroke, & as he could never afford medical insurance, illness bankrupted him & that was it for the Shooting Ranch. He did otherwise recover.
Tim was no great shakes as an actor, but he throws his heart & soul into the performance, & even though it's a slasher film, there's something purely sweet about his desire to play his role well.
And it kind of reveals he had a legitimate charisma, having been a beloved entertainer for many years for more reasons than being a freak. He had an eccentric talent which is the true reason he had success as an entertainer.
Apart from Tim, the film's not much. We're supposed to be led to believe the mentally ill clown is the serial killer in the region, but there's really no point that the killer, with a nylon stocking pulled over his head, even slightly resembles Tim, so never a time we think it could've been him. And so no suprise when he becomes the hero, with one of the most tragic lines imaginable when he saves Jill.
There's a mildly political subtext in that the killings seem to be happening because of the injustice of farm foreclosures.
As I write this review, home foreclosures have become so commonplace in America that the earlier theme of lost family farms seems again all too current. Merv's parents were victims of just such loss, & the key victims are the family of the banker.
The 1980s was a feral time for gore films so the scenes of victims strung up by their heals & their throats slit to bleed like pigs is fairly graphic.
There's sexploitation & torture that would've been grindhouse seedy for its day. But such films have gone so much further in the present decade, today's gorehounds will likely find it mild.
So really the only saving grace among the bad writing, bad acting, & mediocre cinematography, is Tiny Tim himself, who provides us with one last bonus. Behind the closing credits, Tim sings a delightful song written by Tom Zang. The lyric runs in part, "Marvelous Mervo at your service/ Marvelous Mervo is my name/ And I'll do my best to entertain you/ My magic is laughter, laughter's my game..." Thanks, Tim. You were a cool old weirdo.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl