Can I consider myself a fan of a filmmaker after hating one of his films, liking another one, and kind-of enjoying a third which he only produced? What if I watched a bunch of trailers for movies he made and that I haven’t seen but got rather excited just thinking about them? If so, then consider me a fan of Nico Mastorakis, the Greek filmmaker who directed and/or produced a handful of goofy, low budget flicks in the 1980s.
I wasn’t at all fond of The Zero Boys, his action/horror hybrid that didn’t exactly thrill (though I was impressed with its production values even on what must have been a very low budget). I quite liked The Wind, a straight-up thriller set on a Greek island whose main villain is, well, you’ve already read the title. It was Arrow Video’s recent release of The Wind that featured several trailers from Mastorakis that really got me interested in him as a filmmaker. These were films like Blind Date in which a man goes blind remembering his girlfriend and then gets an experimental procedure where a computer is connected to his brain giving him sight like he was transported to Tron. Or Darkroom where a killer takes likes to take photos of his victims posed in the most gruesome manner possible. These are films I gotta see.
The thing I like about Nico Mastorakis’ and 1980s low-budget films, in general, is that despite the low budgets they still look good. It seems like there was a period of time in the ’80s in which you get really good tradespeople in the movies for a decent price. Or at least some people could. Everything I’ve seen from Nico Mastorakis has really high production values.
Sometimes he even got good actors. Such as Blood Tide with James Earl Jones and José Ferrer. Though this is far from either’s best roles, they made the film during prolific periods in their respective careers (James Earl Jones was at the height of his Darth Vader powers and José Ferrer made films for Woody Allen and Mel Brooks within a couple of years of this). So there had to be some stock in what Mastorakis could do. Not that he ever lived up to it.
Neil (Martin Cove) and Sherry Grice (Mary Louise Weller) decide to spend their honeymoon searching for his missing sister Madeline (Deborah Shelton). Lucky for them, she was last seen on an exotic island in Greece. When they first land, the place seems completely deserted but then some kids throw some junk at them and out pops Nereus, the mayor (Ferrer). He tells them he hasn’t seen the sister and they should go on their way. Before they do, they spy the sister and chase after her.
She acts strangely and introduces them to Frye and Barbara (Lydia Cornell) a couple of archeologists/treasure hunters. He quotes Shakespeare, drinks too much, and is rude to her. She looks good in a swimsuit. The natives practice ancient rituals and give the two newcomers the stink eye. Think of it as a very low budget The Wicker Man without that magnificent Christopher Lee performance. Ferrar and Jones try to bring some of that kooky magic. Ferrar isn’t given enough screen time to really shine. Jones does his darndest and pulls out a really interesting performance, but they’re just isn’t enough in the script for him to pull anything quite so wonderful off.
Eventually, Frye unleashes an ancient sea monster. That’s why the natives were busy doing rituals and talking about the newcomers in hushed tones. They used to sacrifice virgins to it, but good luck finding those in a low budget movie from the ’80s. And you know just how low the budget is when you realize that you only see the monster a couple of times in low light, underwater. Even Doctor Who at its lowest ebb gave us more than that.
There’s hardly a monster, he hardly kills anyone and there’s very little gore, so what’s a horror movie to do? Talk, mostly. Blood Tide goes for mood over action, but it can’t really deliver on that front either. It does look really good. The island helps with that but the cinematography is nicely done too. Reading other reviews, this film has been brutally panned by just about everyone.
So maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I fell asleep while watching this film and dreamed up a better movie. Or maybe I just spent the weekend watching the entire Halloween franchise and my standards have sunk real low, but I rather dug this film. It has this low key vibe where people are just hanging out. The locals are whispering mysteriously about the newcomers. The missing sister is hanging out with nuns and deciding she’s the sacrifice the monster really needs. It is all kinds of dumb, but I dig it.
I’m still on board with whatever Nico Mastorakis wants to give me. Here’s hoping Arrow Video gives me plenty more.
They present Blood Tide with a new 4K scan of the original negative and an uncompressed mono audio track. Extras include a new audio commentary with director Richard Jefferies, a new interview with Mastorakis, and the usual full-color booklet with an essay on the film.
Blood Tide certainly isn’t for everybody. By the reviews, it’s not even for folks who usually dig this sort of thing. But I liked it. Lower your expectations and come along for a groovy ride on a tropical island.