Blood Harvest (1985)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

Tiny Tim is kneeling at an altar, weeping, and covered in clown make-up. He’s sweaty. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this scene.

The late Tiny Tim was in Wisconsin for a beer tent carnival appearance during the summer of ’85. He probably performed a version of “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” with a drum machine and saxophones. Bill Rebane was in the audience. A deal was made. Then, elastic pants were purchased and grease paint was applied. In a few short months, Blood Harvest was shot in Lincoln County, Wisconsin. When watching it, please make sure that you have an extra pair of pants. Because you will be shitting the ones you have on now.

Jill is home from college. After foreclosing the mortgages on several properties, her parents have disappeared. The family’s home is the victim of graffiti and obscene phone calls. It’s not clear why. Gary, Jill’s childhood friend, is in love with her. He also has a brother named “Merv,” “Mervo,” or my favorite, “The Magnificent Mervo.” As interpreted by Tiny Tim, Mervo is a bloated man-child in a stretch-satin suit and flannel shirt. He spews disquieting songs (“I wanna make the whole world laugh, even if the laugh’s on me”) and recites Hail Marys. A pessimist sheriff wears a softball uniform. A killer who wears pantyhose over his head has a Polaroid fetish. Gary makes love to Jill while she’s unconscious. At this point, you can probably just think up anything and pretend that it happens.

Joining A Night To Dismember and Boarding House as go-to examples for cinematic madness, Blood Harvest will knock you flat. It’s not enough that Bill Rebane called an about-face on his typical PG-themed endurance tests (The Game, Invasion From Inner Earth). Atypical for him, this film is filled with sex and brutal violence. These are welcome additions because they guarantee consciousness. But Rebane pushed the film even further, throwing in the hideous Tiny Tim, pointless religious motifs, and an overall sense of charmlessness. No one is likable. Homes are so unkempt that they look as if they were abandoned six months ago. Sex happens on filthy shag carpeting when it shouldn’t be happening at all. All of this is presented with thick Wisconsin accents and a random application of jump cuts — a benchmark of Rebane’s particular brand of flair. It’s depressing, confusing, and exhausting. It also receives my highest recommendation.

From the Archives