Blades is a beloved 1989 comedy/horror spoof involving a killer lawnmower terrorizing a country club filled with oddball characters. Starring Robert North and Jeremy Whelan, this Troma Team distributed film is a goofy watch that delivers on its promises with plenty of jabs at golfing combined with a JAWS homage tying it all together. Vinegar Syndrome brings this oddity to Blu-ray with a pleasing A/V package but slim on the special features. Recommended.
The new owner of Tall Grass Country Club hires once-promising pro golfer Roy (Robert North) to be the new pro at the club, passing over Kelly (Victoria Scott) who has worked her way up from caddy. Pressure due to the upcoming televised tournament doesn’t faze the new owner even when the bloodied remains of two teenagers show up in the sand trap. Roy has seen better days as a pro but Kelly becomes suspicious when he’s seen cavorting with the owner’s wife. While new owner Noman schmoozes the chief of police, Roy and Kelly are off chasing suspects and thwarting an unseen diabolical killer. Though when militant ex-greenskeeper Deke (Jeremy Whelan, Hot Splash) is arrested, Norman pushes forward with the televised tournament but Roy and Kelly aren't certain the real killer has been brought to justice.
Blades gets the ball rolling slowly allowing plenty of time for golf jokes and developing the tension between disgraced pro Roy and ambitious Kelly. 40 minutes go by before we’re on the trail of the killer and seeing some real bloody action. For a spoof you’ll see more gore than expected but nothing crazy. Playing like JAWS on land, the film lifts as much as possible from Spielberg down to the silly autopsy of a mower bag for body parts. Funnily enough, the low-budget aspect of the film offers a similar viewing experience to the celebrated shark movie in that the “monster” is rarely seen and was a frustrating aspect of the production.
Performances offer plenty to chew on though I can never tell if Robert North and Victoria are in on the fun or not. It feels like those two actors were told to play everything straight through to the end while the hijinks play out around them. Director Thomas R. Rondinella seems to approach most scenes with an eye for a National Lampoon effect allowing the comedic hijinks to boil over with stereotypes and corny dialogue. Sadly most of the cast of Blades never acted again save for a few bit parts here and there.
Where Blades doesn’t work is in sticking with a singular tone. The first two acts of the film behave like the Caddyshack sequel we’ve always wanted. Sure some of the jokes don’t land well but it's all in good fun, right? By the third act when the hunt is on for the killer lawnmower we’re given a deeply dramatic tone filled with heavy emotional elements. I caught myself wondering when the next joke would crash through Deke’s battle van, but surprisingly this one takes the hunt to heart. This uneven tone makes the proceedings awkward and seems cobbled together. I can see why it has an audience as a curiously fun ride. When you add in the excellent blood and practical effects work you've got me hooked till the explosive finale.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Blades tees off on Blu-ray thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. The Region A BD-50 disc is housed in a standard keepcase with reversible artwork. Loading the disc presents us with the VS logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with typical navigation options. When you hear the stirring music ripped off from that John Williams shark movie you’ve made it.
The 1080p AVC encoded presentation for Blades is sourced from a new 2K scan of the original camera negative in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While we get a good HD presentation, flickering, lines, and specks are evident throughout the spoof. Film-like grain is tight and adds plenty of atmosphere. Primaries are bright and vivid from Norman’s red sweater vest to the lush greens surrounding the killing fields of the golf course.
Inky black levels are present throughout the feature even when pressed during nighttime scenes on the deadly course. Fine detail is evident from the stitching on Roy’s yellow polo to the labels on the booze bottles in the country club bar. Skin tones are even though appear bit reddish during brighter outdoor scenes on the course. Nighttime scenes retain plenty of detail in shadow, especially when the boat, i mean van, is attacked by the menacing mower. Previously available on home video through a Troma triple feature DVD, this release of Blades is worth the upgrade.
Blades calls FORE! with a solid 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix. Dialogue is clear and clean without instances of hiss or pop detected. Levels are well balanced allowing for dialogue, effects, and the cheezy scoring to share the fairway nicely. Deke’s interrogation scene runs a bit hot causing the levels to top out losing quality. Overall a respectable track for the feature that's par for the course.
Vinegar Syndrome may not load this release with features but between the interview and the commentary, there’s enough for fans of the film to enjoy.
Blades is a fun JAWS spoof that fully commits to the premise while harboring aspirations to be the next Caddyshack sequel. Comedy beats land easily offering plenty of good times on the course with the killer lawnmower. Grab some friends and enjoy the hijinks on the links! Vinegar Syndrome brings the cult comedy to Blu-Ray with a pleasing A/V package and enough special features for curious audiences. Recommended.