“Some men want you for your body . . . some your brain.”
— from the Sony VHS
Andreas Wells, a brilliant, neurosurgeon patriarch (a very good Jan Rubes; you know him from D2: The Mighty Ducks), gathers his dysfunctional family at a remote, snowy estate for an erotic battle over the fortunes of Charles MacLoed, his own, eccentric, dying father (by an ever better Ray Walston* who works the “dirty old man” angle with aplomb; yes, he was “Mr. Hand” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High).
The greed brings Thomas Wells (a good Kevin Hicks in his second film; you might remember him as “Sir D” in Cool as Ice), the two-years estranged son, to the estate with his fiance Marie (Gulp! Eye-popping redhead of crystal-blue eyes, Lydie Denier, of Paramedics; she was Nicole Bernard in the U.S.-imported series, Acapulco H.E.A.T). The soon-to-wed couple plan, once grandpa dies, to kill his father for the family’s estate. However, the tables turn as Marie finds herself the unwilling victim of the elder Wells’s sex kinks as well as their immortality experiments (in a basement lab, natch) to reanimate their cryogenically suspended wife/daughter-in-law — and Marie’s doped up along the way to bring on the hallucinations, and even screwier dreams, to muck up reality.
Blood Relations is one of the better Canuxploitation splatter joints. What begins as a 19th century-influenced, Lovecraftian erotic thriller (but set in the present day), soon delves into a Gialloeque mystery, only to become a sickly twisted, bizarre-gore set piece: a Gialloesque-cum-film noir with a brain-prodding serial doctor.
Writer Stephen Saylor (who never wrote another film?) and director Graeme Campbell (still at it, with five Hallmark Channel holidays flicks) start it off purposeful and slow, but be patient: this Amicus-styled film with Full Moon ’80s overtones has a wicked payoff that ranks alongside the twisted ’80s rentals The Brain and Severed Ties. The set design is attractive and expertly captured in the lens, while the red herring support actors of Lynee Adams, as Dr. Wells’s mistress Sharon, and Sam Malkin, as the ubiquitous, odd-ball groundskeeper Yuri, in the sexy-horror shenanigans, are excellent.
When it comes to brain transplant movies — with gratuitous nudity and capped brains poked with needles — this is the prefect watch for a month of October Halloween watching. Do it! Do it as a stream on the Internet Archive.org and enjoy this off-the-radar gem (the upload isn’t great, but the flipping and tracking static adds to the rental nostalgia).