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I'm not a sports guy in the slightest. I don't regularly play any and can't seem to find a single bit of joy watching athletes on television. Going to large sporting events can be fun, but probably, in my case, that has more to do with beer, hot dogs and people watching than anything. You may also catch me wearing a Boston Red Sox cap, due to my strangely deep belief that baseball caps should have baseball teams on them. Mostly, it's a traditional thing, because part of my lineage has worn "Bo Socks" hats for generations, and my continuing the practice amounts to a sort of goofy cliche male cargo cult. I'm just not with the medium, and I get bored fast. To me, sports as entertainment is a mix of exhausted, unreliable stats and living vicariously through real people. I like my trivia a little more colorful, and if I'm going to pretend I'm anyone else, it's going to be someone fictional. No hate though (don't beat me up). Above all else, I can completely respect the passion behind the fandom, and despite not being into "the sports" myself, I can relate to that aspect. I don't have to understand to find common ground, and there is no denying the impact on the culture. Physical competition and the commercial powerhouse behind it have bled into the essence of the country around me and beyond. This creates a strange dynamic for those of us that just don't get it, as it's continually being used as a standard for socialization. The terms, history, and current events in sporting pop up everywhere. This can be annoying for lack of a better word. On the other hand, however, sometimes that gives us an amalgamation like Blood Games (1990).
Babe & The Ball Girls is an all-female team of baseball players with a good record and a lax uniform policy. They are lead by the captain Babe (Laura Albert) and her gruff but loveable father Midnight (Ross Hagen). For whatever reason, the group travels around on a bus playing against random male hillbillies, while pop makes bets on the side. Their most recent triumph involved beating the dirty Levis off a particularly grabby pack of opponents, which they accomplished despite blatant cheating (and assault) from the men. The Hicks, who happen to be run by a paternal duo themselves, are embarrassed, having been rocked by a bunch of scantily clad women. No one takes this harder than the father Mino Collins (Ken Carpenter), who invited them under the impression it would be an easy win--like some kind of Harlem Globetrotters game but with molestation instead of buckets of confetti. Before leaving the unfriendly town, the girls hit the locker room for a victory shower, though unbeknownst to them, tensions only build as they take their time lathering. Collins is pissed, refuses to make due on his bet with Midnight, and unfortunately employs an army made of every drunken, dusty sex offender in the surrounding area. Quickly things go from a creepy, old peeping-Tom to outright rape and a body count. It's up to the deceptively bubbly champs to exact vengeance on Mino Collins and his mob of good ol' boys with nothing but some baseball bats, their wits, and a minimal amount of clothing.
Despite being sold as a sports-themed slasher of some kind, Blood Games is instead a tour of exploitation tropes in all types with a bus-full of 80s style bombshells who happen to be athletes. At the very core is a plot that comes closest to a backwoods rape-revenge film with a bunch of team spirit and a few random sports references. Along the way, it tries to nail several genre cliches onto the loose, flimsy baseball-theme settling for a mush of trashy concepts and out of place attitudes. There is a little horror mixed in but nothing as prominent as the poster and title implicate. That's not to say the basic concept couldn't be scary, but the tone is never there. It's chronically goofy and riddled with cheesy fan service, all while the narrative is taken as seriously as a mainstream action film, even trying for heartwarming at points. Bad guys are easily found early upon introduction wearing any possible arch on their sleeves, as characters are comprised of surface-level cliches.
Along with the logistics of the backwoods intersex baseball league, there are a handful of unexplained elements that can be chalked up to well-used tropes being borrowed from various distinct sources. From the film's initial groundwork, the story could have gone several places with drastically different tones, as long as it involved rapey-ass dudes. There are underdog sports vibes, slasher seeds, and some action ingredients thrown in, with no meditation on any aspect. In the end, it has the most in common with a family road-adventure movie only minus kids--add boobs and death. In all honesty, it's too cheerful to leave an impact with its tragedy, and it doesn't seem to have a problem with that.  While people are killed, raped, or battered throughout, it's never grounded enough to elicit a proper emotion as most of the tragedy is presented with the gravity of losing a bar fight. Our gang of bosom ballers is a blast to root for no matter how many get killed and even though they haul around the corpse of their trusty coach for a good part of the movie.
The film's most bizarre aspect is its critical self-awareness. While Blood Games ultimately puts stock into the trashier entertainment value of its subject matter, it also consistently critiques female objectification. The most fulfilled ideas in the feature make solid points about real-life patriarchy, but they can be followed by things like a twenty-minute shower scene for no reason. It sounds confusing but works to an extent. It is a strange contrast with neither aspect tripping over the other nor connecting to make one point. 
The technical quality of the film is relatively solid, but this plays into the overall parody feel of the would-be gritty revenge tale. Rustic backroads and slasher-esque woodland areas make up the background, with the action leaving the sparse, small town in the first half. The setting plays to its Swiss Army knife approach to the subgenres involved, especially between its hixploitation slasher and The Most Dangerous Game nods. The direction, while a little cartoony, fills out the tale with a rambunctious busy style. It's movements keep it lively and never dull, but the form doesn't do the drama weight any favors (for better or worse). There are visual tributes in the cinematography that evolve with the film tropes. It gets lazier as time goes on, but puts on a sturdy budget-Bad News Bears meets Roadhouse look for the overlong introduction. Later moments seem to want to play to Spit on Your Grave but come off more like a late 90s Sidaris flick like Day of the Warrior (1996). Shamelessly, anytime a boob pops out, the camera pans to it. It's not subtle or blended; it just happens as though, at any moment, a horrible "boiiing" sound effect is going to follow. Some scenes can stick around for too long at points (again, especially if breasts are involved), however, there are no real dips in pace. Outside of that, the editing is functional, verging on generic, with its most vigorous moments put together like a teen sex comedy. The dubbing is adequate, aside from some overused lingering fades, initiating a disembodied whimsical ambiance for no reason. Some other film’s soundtrack shows up about halfway through, but before that, I can't even remember any music at all. For being a mishmash of concepts from a range of trashy favorites, it holds together legitimately, at least in the playing field it marches out on.
Blood Games, also known as Baseball Bimbos in Hillbilly Hell, was the only film by director Tanya Rosenberg. The screenplay was co-written by Craig Clyde, who had helped pen China O'Brien II released the same year. Clyde has a pretty hefty filmography encompassing several roles, though sometime in the 90s, his work starts to get a little cultish after moving to Utah and joining the LDS church. His latest was Shoelaces for Christmas (2018), which premiered as a BYU TV original. I think he even made something with Kevin Sorbo, so at this point, he is in the realm of bad movies that even I wouldn't watch. Jim Makichuk, the man behind Ghostkeeper (1982) and The Tower (1985), came up with the original concept. Aside from him, the film's final credits list four writers including George Saunders, whose credits include a small part in The Hunt for Red October, which came out in 1990 with Blood Games. 
Don Dowe plays unloved lackey Holt. The name may not jump out at you, but you have probably seen him play a similar role before. He pops up in a few Fred Olen Ray films and a slew of television stuff. Most memorable for me are his role(s) in the Trancers movies, probably because he is in the series twice --that's almost as many times as Helen Hunt. Cult legend and master of the five o'clock shadow Ross Hagen plays "Midnight" with a naturally trustworthy 90s grit. Another familiar face, George 'Buck' Flower puts on his dirty old man routine. Flower did nine films in the same year including Puppet Master II and Spontaneous Combustion (his voice anyway). At the time of his death in 2004, he had over 150 credits in his career. He and Ken Carpenter (Mino Collins in the film) would reunite for Tammy and the T-Rex four years later. Mino's son is realized by Gregory Scott Cummins, who I can now only see as Mac's dad in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia despite his respectable and varied filmography. Following her part as Bambi in Mirage (1989) the year before, Laura Albert plays Babe, the lead protagonist and star player. As a stunt woman, she has appeared in more than one hundred sixty works, and counting, including both Speeds (1994, 1997), Strange Days (1995) and Escape from L.A. (1996). She's a good pick for the team because the usual joke here is that they don't look much like baseball players, but she could probably beat me up all the same in real life.
Blood Games is a derivative, self-deprecating hiking trip of satire, sleazy vengeance, and baseball. I can't tell if the movie is a fully committed parody of trashy cinema or very confused rape-revenge film taped over somebody's little league game. Either way, it makes for an enjoyable corny b-movie trip into the woods. Also, despite not usually giving a shit about sports, I have quite a few questions about how the backwoods-supermodels versus hill-people baseball league works.
1h 30min | 1990
Director: Tanya Rosenberg
Writers: Jim Makichuk, Craig Clyde, James Hennessy, George Saunders and Robert Pfeffer.


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