Color, 1987, 87m. / Directed by Bill Rebane / Starring Tiny Tim, Itonia Salchek / Retromedia/Ventura (US R1 NTSC)

Unremarkable as a slasher film but invaluable as a pop culture artifact, Blood Harvest was made to cash in on the direct-to-video gore craze begun by the likes of The Ripper and Boarding House. However, thanks to the presence of star Tiny Tim, the entire enterprise feels like it was shot on another planet and delivers a bizarre, sometimes skin-crawling impact unusual for this kind of fare.

Sweet young Jill (Salchek) returns from school to her country hometown, where her relatives seem to have gone missing. Her only help seems to come in the form of blond, straight-laced Dean West, while his "eccentric" older brother, the Marvelous Mervo (Tiny Tim, of course, who gets to croon his own theme song), has a penchant for walking around all day in clown make-up and making a spectacle of himself at the local church. Meanwhile randy young couples are knocked out, abducted, and tied up in a barn where their throats are bled into metal buckets. What sadistic fiend could be behind such madness? Don't feel too proud if you guess the answer five minutes into the movie...

A highly unusual performer best known for his trendsetting long hair and terrifying falsetto hit song, "Tiptoe through the Tulips," Tiny Tim followed many of his iconoclastic '60s pop peers by attempting a career in movies, resulting in the rarely seen 1968 oddity, You Are What You Eat. It took almost twenty more years before he would land a bona fide leading role, though how he hooked up with schlockmeister director Bill Rebane (The Giant Spider Invasion, The Alpha Incident) is a story best uncovered in the supplements on this DVD. Also released on video as The Marvelous Mervo, this feature looks like your average shot-on-video project for the most part, though at least Rebane's past 35mm experience provides for better filming during night scenes than one might normally expect. He also pulls off the stalk-and-slash finale with a fair amount of panache, as the survivor and killer square off in a variety of barn-related settings. The nudity and gore quotient is fairly high; surprisingly enough, one of the victims is none other than a very young Peter Krause (TV's leading man of Six Feet Under and Sports Night fame), who shows up long enough to fondle his way through a sex scene, hunt for a beer, get clobbered on the head, and have his throat slashed. (Amazingly his presence is mentioned nowhere on the DVD box, though it's hard to give him much credit when his character isn't even given a name.)

This reconstructed "director's cut" of Blood Harvest contains Rebane's preferred title of Nightmare on the actual transfer. Video and audio are both pretty low grade due to the original source material, but it's watchable enough for what it is. Shot in the Ed Gein territory of Wisconsin, Rebane's pet project boasts authentically creepy rural locales and creatively uses its limited sets; students of financially deprived horror efforts might be interested to show how much mileage the down-home king of cornpone creepiness got out of his minimal resources. Tiny Tim fans (and anyone with a fiendish sense of curiosity) will enjoy a supplemental featurette, in which we see him discussing the making of the film (shot just before production commenced) along with footage of him wandering in fields and, well, just being Tiny Tim. It's all accompanied by his trademark crooning on the soundtrack.

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