★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
It’s a lot like An Inconvenient Truth (2006), but with more rampaging mutant ibex.
Directed by Marvin Kren.
Every now and then a movie comes along that just strikes the right chord. It might not have the best special effects. It might not have any stars in it. Truth be told, it might be so deep in “B” movie territory that you’re surprised you’re not cleaning honey stains off the TV stand, but you like what you like and ain’t no crappy CG effects gonna convince you otherwise. Blood Glacier is one of those movies for me.
This quirky little gem from Austria has it all! You want body horror? They’ve got horrible, stinging flies hatching out of someone’s face. You want an ecological morality tale? They’ve got all kinds of people talking about climate change. You want a monster movie? Hey, I already mentioned the rampaging mutant ibex and he’s not alone! As director Kren’s sophomore offering in the feature-length picture category, Blood Glacier — or, Blutgletscher, as they say in the old country — pretty much has something for everyone.
Set in the Austrian alps with a four person (and one dog) team manning a remote scientific research outpost, the chilly isolation might start reminding you of another ill-fated research station in less than sunny climes. A resemblance that only gets stronger when the “blood” of the titular Blood Glacier turns out to be some kind of ancient, microscopic life form that’s been woken up from its frozen nap. This time by mean ol’ Mr. Climate Change. Nobody likes glacial shrinkage. I’m just sayin’. However, any similarities between Blood Glacier and The Thing are all in good fun and this movie takes the “infection” idea in a different direction. This is definitely an Us vs. Them movie, not another paranoid Us vs. Us romp.
The lion’s share of the special effects are practical and that includes most of the weird, hybrid critters. This is a very good thing as the majority of the CG effects are, to put it mildly, crap. Fun crap! But still crap. Luckily, all the primary monstrosities are fully done with far more satisfying practical effects. We’re still not talking Rob Bottin or Amalgamated Dynamics-level monster making, but they’re great for the budget they had.
As for the acting… I’m going to preface this by saying I watched Blood Glacier dubbed in English. And the voice acting was often, shall we say, sub-par. Delivered like they were reading the list of ingredients off the back of a cereal box. Fun cereal! But still cereal. After looking up the actors, though, most of them seem to be hard-working people with a number of film and TV credits to their names. 99% of them have been in the German cop-drama TV show Tatort, but when you’ve got a series that runs for nearly 50 years you probably go through a lot of actors. Fans of the show might recognize Gerhard Liebmann and Edita Malovcic who both had multi-year runs on Tatort and play the main characters, Janek and Tanja, in Blood Glacier. Luca the bodyguard was also played by a seasoned Tatort alum, Murathan Muslu. Which is really just a long way of saying, if you can watch the movie in German, the acting is probably much better.
While Blood Glacier does have a strong Climate Change Is Bad message, it never gets too preachy about it. Not that it’s a bad message to preach, it’s just not something you need too much of in a horror movie. Technically, one of the climatologists does get a bit long winded in a speech about damaging the planet, but he gets set on fire later and I think that balances things out pretty well.
The movie has its share of plot holes. This was the second time I’d seen it and I still can’t figure out where the nameless running young woman is supposed to have come from. None of the characters even question what she’s doing in the Austrian alps, miles away from civilization and clearly not dressed for hours of hiking. Of course, they’re all distracted by what she’s running from so I can cut them some slack.
Overall, though, Blood Glacier is just fun. It’s not out to win any academy awards. It’s just trying to have a good time with some beautiful scenery, mediocre writing, and occasionally goofy monsters. Grab yourself a frosty adult beverage, crank up the Netflix machine, and just enjoy a good ol’ fashioned B-movie creature feature.
Blood Glacier is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon.