Blu-ray Review: Blades

Back when people had to go to the office to work, I dropped by an corporate headquarters for a meeting. While walking up the sidewalk, I noticed a little roving box going back and forth on the lawn. It took me a moment to realize that this science project was in fact a robotic mower. All day long this little mower used GPS satellites and ground breaking technology to keep the grass at the perfect height. As I watched the machine, I thought that this would be the great premise for a horror film. The robot mower going amuck and cutting down people like Kentucky Fescue seemed like an instant hit. Like so many great ideas for a film, I didn’t rush home and crank out a script. I just forgot about it. And I’m happy I didn’t spend hours toiling at the laptop since it turns out a movie about a robotic killer lawnmower had already been made. Blades was released by Troma Films in 1989 and has arrived on Blu-ray to make you afraid to go back on the golf course.

Tall Grass golf course is preparing to be turned into the next Pinehurst and Augusta. There’s going to be television coverage of their upcoming Pro-Am Charity Event. While the tourney won’t be airing on CBS, Suburban Vision Sports is a start. To become even more impressive, Tall Grass hires respected golfer Roy Kent (Robert North) to be the new pro. This does not come as good news for Kelly Lange (Kingpin‘s Victoria Scott). She was promised the job and now has to be Roy’s assistant. But their work feud comes to an end with discovery of mutilated bodies found around the course. They find a butchered couple in a sandtrap. Later major member is found chunked up in the rough. Who could be doing this? The owner of the golf course really n care since Norman Osgood (William Towner) is using his connection with the local police to cover up the mayhem and act like nothing is wrong. He doesn’t want to ruin the ratings for the golf tournament on TV. Roy has to find out what sort of killing machine is lurking on the fringes of his golf course.

Blades is a complete spoof of Jaws with the action relocated to a golf course. The comic tone varies from camp to deadpan. I appreciate how much the crew and cast were committed to a full out spoof of the shark film. Even with a running time of 98 minutes, it’s compelling viewing and not just a joke that overstays its welcome like a Saturday Night Live sketch. There’s a scene where the mower attacks the van that plays off Quint’s death is just brilliant. They figure out a way to mimic so many elements including the van “sinking” on the green. They even blow up a lot of stuff on the golf course. Probably more than Caddyshack. I don’t get why the Golf Channel doesn’t rerun Blades constantly.

Blades was given a limited release from Troma back in ’89 before HBO ran it for a while. After a VHS release, it appears to have only been put on DVD as part of a triple feature disc. Now you can fully appreciate this duffers delight on Blu-ray. Starring at the robot lawnmower a while ago, I couldn’t comes up with a better movie than Blades.

Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer is taken from a 2K from the original camera negative. This looks as smooth as the putting green. The audio is DTS-HD MA Stereo. You’ll hear the lawnmower creeping up on the greens. The movie is subtitled.

Commentary Track with Director Thomas R. Rondinella and Writer William R. Pace. The duo talk about getting to make the film over the course of 50 days. They have plenty of tales about the lawnmower.

Fore Warning (21:32) has them admit that they did go for a scene by scene spoof of Jaws. Producer John P. Finnegan grew up on golf course and wanted to make this film before he started Girl School Screamers. He went over the NYU to find a crew and met Thomas R. Rondinella and William R. Pace. They worked on Girl School and then after a bit of time, Finnegan brought the two back to write the script and let Rondinella direct. They actual shot at a 9 hole golf course called Beerworld. He had to negotiate with the course owner as he was in jail on tax charges. They also talk about how they hooked up with Troma.

Still Gallery (2:11) includes Behind the Scenes Photos from the golf course and the world premiere.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Blades. Directed by Thomas R. Rondinella. Screenplay by Thomas R. Rondinella and William R. Pace. Starring Robert North, Victoria Scott, Jeremy Whelan, Larry Stromberg, Kara Callahan, David Aldrich & James P. Mann. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 98 minutes. Release Date: October 5, 2021.

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