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No offense to any duplicates out there, but I'm glad I don't have a twin. That shit gives me the creeps--I mean if I personally had one. Twins themselves are fine unless they wear matching clothes, then it's a little unsettling for some reason. I'm sure there are benefits to having a doppelganger. In fact, I can think of several perks, although most involve the phrase "gotcha --there are actually two of us" or faking my own death, and so, it's just not worth it. I get uncomfortable when people say I resemble someone else they know and instantly start plotting my impostor's demise. Maybe it means something, but the thought of a second guy like me existing, especially one made from precisely the same human goo, runs me wrong. I like being one of a kind--I don't care how that sounds. If I'm being honest, I couldn't deal with another character like myself, and I don't think that shit would be good for anyone else either. I'm just going to say it. Cliches be damned; there is only room for one of my specific stock in the world.
The single way I would accept the situation is, if he was the exact opposite of me, like an evil RevTerry. He can look like me but should always have to wear white and enjoy mayonnaise. I also assume there would be an eye patch or scar. That would be doable, and if I get an action figure line, the same mold can be used. I think I could handle that, although it could still go bad, like in Blood Link (1982).
Doctor Craig Mannings (Michael Moriarty) has been having some fucked up dreams since trying a new procedure on himself in an act of Hippocratic selflessness. Before waking in a sweat, Craig continuously sees himself murdering women he has never met before, in unfamiliar places, with striking realistic detail. This is bumming him out, and nightmares soon turn to waking visions, so the doc embarks on a depressing quest for answers from his past. After a trip to the convalescent home to yell at his senile aunt, the doctor concludes that the man in his visions was not him but his twin brother Keith (also Moriarty) who was thought deceased. In full detective mode, he catches some dream clues and books a flight to Germany against the protests of his loving gal (Penelope Milford). All suspicions are confirmed, as once he arrives, he is arrested for the same crimes he saw with his twin-powers back in the states. When he is correctly identified as the good twin, the doctor resolves to get to his homicidal bro ahead of the police in to hug it out (or something). On the phone, his sweetheart doesn't seem down with the whole ordeal, but Craig has some doctor business to do in Germany anyway and is stuck on this whole not-dead sibling thing. Plus, he finds a new lady-friend (Geraldine Fitzgerald) after his twin beats her dad (Cameron Mitchell) to death. Romance, murder, and uncomfortable humping follow as Dr.Mannings matches wits with German law enforcement while trying to stop a homicidal duplicate with only the power of brotherly love.
Blood Link (aka Extrasensorial or The Link) is a mean spirited, supernatural thriller with a low-key Hitchcockian vibe and the bouncy lurch of a St. Elsewhere episode. At the core is a solid plot that has been padded by fluffy off-kilter storytelling and overall disconnection. It takes a while to take swing, but often the odd presentation plays to its unique benefit. It's a melting pot of tropes from the writing outward, all connected with a mask of soft, timid melodrama. Starting slowly with an air of unknown, as the story moves along, the mystery disperses with quick reveals, leading to a grim back and forth. The elements of horror are tucked behind the light fantasy infused drama, and on the first watch, it's hard to know what you're in for. It has a familiar or classic presentation, which heightens the brutality that it inches into nonchalantly. In the face of its depictions and concept, the movie moves at a float without touching down. This mood never matches the content, and instead holds steady through each event, no matter how brutal, and creates a kind of quirky deceptive attitude. With the usual building blocks, it does things it's own way. There is a slasher in there somewhere, but the dreamlike atmosphere puts an argyle sweater on the unsavory deeds. There are many Giallo elements as well, only they never hit home and come off more as tributes. It's as if a straight crime drama and an Italian proto-slasher met in an early 80s Central Park, made awkward love, and gave birth to a psychic baby. More like theatre than reality, the world presented is calm and sternly collected as it is supposedly crumbling into paranormal drama. Every character involved is either simple or lays their motivations out in dialog; however, this is well-matched to the odd surroundings and executed effectively. The setting (s) feels borrowed from forgotten television shows, having been transformed by emotional stress and nihilism in equal parts. It's never gripping but always uneasy, and the impact has a way of creeping up on you. Grim things just happen, and while they come along fully formed, the logic from any angle doesn't quite line up. The pay-off comes in indescribable waves with enough trashy flavor and unease to work. I can describe it best as a lovely Sunday afternoon slasher with quietly fucked up concepts held together with great performances and topped off with a demented ending that will ruin the rest of your day.
Even though I have only watched really shitty transfers of the film to date, I'm almost positive the camera work is a step above its b movie whole, if not a little generic. Though used sparingly, the layover for the psychic visions is boilerplate and silly, but nothing too distracting. While the first half primarily takes place during the day and is brightly lit, the second goes for it in the shadow department. Along with the classic tricks like the dramatic spotlight, the later scenes come equipped with some worthwhile contrast and utilize the darkness in interesting ways (also probably helped and/or hindered by only seeing the VHS version). It's not subtle, however, so if there are some boobs to be seen, they will be visible and illuminated. This happens frequently, although it is tame compared to it's Giallo cousins, amounting to background-nudity during long conversations in most cases. Similarly, the gore is as confined to some stylized blood splatter, and the violence is often just implied. There is an ever-present viciousness in the film, but without the tits, it could have been on cable. Honestly, one of the most brutal kills in the film is almost bloodless and involves punching an old man until he has a heart attack. A haunting soundtrack is supplied by Ennio Morricone, and next to watching Michael Moriarty talk to himself, it makes the film for me. Underneath a beautiful, perfectly dated score, he hides unnerving ringing that comes forward into the more drastic moments. Other than that, the film has an almost uncharacteristic lack of flair, but it takes on the soft edges as a calling card. With different handling, the feature could have been another monster entirely, and it doesn't quite fit in with any genre counterparts. Altogether, it holds steady with minimal fan service and without flashy effects by putting stock in disturbing vibes. As a side note, the poster borrows the arm and knife from the poster for Fulci's The New York Ripper (1982), though instead of a dead lady, it's Moriarty's face looking bummed (see top photo).
An especially international slasher, the film was Filmed in English with an American starring cast, funded by the German production company (Zadar Filmgesellschaft) and staffed by a dominantly Italian crew. The Director Alberto De Martino is probably best known (around these parts) for The Pumaman (1980) and The Antichrist (1974), depending on who you ask. The latter being a damn good moody Exorcist rip-off in my opinion, and the other being my homie's favorite episode of Mystery Science Theater. As odd as Blood Link is, De Martino's filmography is heavily stocked with cash-ins ranging several genres, and so far, each one I’ve seen has had a different style. On my first watch, I had no clue this was one of his, although things made a little more sense once I learned the details of its global crew. There was, however, a good chance I initially popped this film a few years ago due to its star Michael Moriarty. Like a lot of people, I became a fan through his collaborations with Larry Cohen, and the bleak project is notably different from anything he and Cohen made. Once you’re past the surprise, it's far from disappointing, as Moriarty's offbeat warmth and chronic calm are utilized in its full, strangely lovable glory. He is essentially playing two opposite personalities, and there is an observable change in his delivery and stature to each. It's not as exaggerated as Q (1982) or The Stuff (1985), but his style is a natural fit into the abstruse world. I'm pretty sure Michael Moriarty is the James Stewart of b movies. Legendary Cameron Mitchell plays a doomed, aging prizefighter Bud, and while technically it counts as one of his random b movie cameos, the role is quite involved. The boxing scene hits hard enough due to his performance, which he pulls off with mostly just grunts and a pitiful look. Sarah Langenfeld plays Bud's daughter and the good twin's new flame Julie in one of her four career roles. Although she is probably the corniest of the key players, based partly on the material, she does have the final line that really sticks with you and not just because they echo it for a few minutes after the movie ends.
Blood Link is a sleepy mix of uncompromising strangeness that thrives at a mumble. It's a brutal tale, cleaned up for no reason, and topped with unrealistic cliches, which is a lot easier to swallow than it should be. Those looking for a complete array of Giallo/slasher tropes will likely be disappointed. Still, I can easily enjoy the spooky vibes, its unsavory events, and watching Moriarty pretend to be two people. Poor Craig--it would fuck me up to learn someone wearing my face was out there, bumping people off in a sadistic, disturbing way. I mean, If I did have a twin, I would hope he was a career criminal of some kind, so it was clear I was the good one, but that's a little extreme.
1h 38min | 1982
Director: Alberto De Martino (as Martin Herbert) Writers: Theodore Apstein, Alberto De Martino, Massimo De Rita


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