Retro Review: ‘Blood Harvest’

It has been said many times that clowns are kind of the worst. For children they are terrifying and for adults they are annoying and off putting. There is something unnerving about their painted and grinning faces which horror storytellers have turned to for centuries. In 1987 B-movie director Bill Rebane took a stab (no pun intended) at bringing a creepy clown to cinemas with a movie called Blood Harvest.

Returning to the family farm from college Jill finds her house empty with her parents nowhere to be found. The hilariously useless local sheriff is not helpful in any way, so Jill tries to move on and hope they turn up. A creepy local clown named the Marvelous Mervo begins to make himself present in Jill’s life. It is not long before the people close to her begin to meet bloody fates in an old barn as someone dangerous stalks the young woman. The only stable person she seems to have in her life is her childhood friend, Mervo’s brother Gary. But he sees her distress as something he can take advantage of and hopefully move out of the “friendzone” he believes himself to be in.

First off, in what community can a clearly troubled man in a clown suit roam around with impunity and it is treated normally? Frequently he just waltzes into Jill’s house and it’s just treated as something that happens. That being said, famed musician Tiny Tim takes every opportunity he can to chew up the scenery of Blood Harvest playing the lunatic Mervo. He goes a long way in elevating this film above the standard 80’s horror slasher ilk. Make no mistake, director Bill Rebane built a career on cheap hastily made horror flicks and he brings that style to this movie as well. Everything is rather by the numbers Given the type of movie this is it would have been nice to at least get a fun gory kill scene. Instead he can not even be bothered to make sure the actors playing dead people do not move while in the shot. One thing Blood Harvest does get right that so many other horror films fail at is giving us a protagonist we can actually get behind. Jill has this low key charm and likability that endears her to the viewer. Adding to this is the fact that when the ultimate killer is revealed he is such a smarmy creep that you want to see her kick his ass. It is a shame this is the only time actress Itonia Salcheck dipped her toe into the acting pool.

While Blood Harvest may not be a good movie, and has a twist ending you can see from a mile away, it is entertaining. Thanks to a Blu Ray release from the awesome people at Vinegar Syndrome it has found a recent cult following. Naturally the ukulele-playing icon Tiny Tim steals every scene he is in as the demented clown Mervo who has become the icon of the flick. For years the movie was found only in a heavily edited form, but now that Blood Harvest is now available in its bloody uncut glory it is worth checking out.