The first job I ever held, at the tender age of 14, was “Golfball Relocation Engineer” at a local golf course — i.e., I went out in the rough to find lost golf balls, washed them, and put them in the bin marked “Experienced Golf Balls. $0.50. Only Driven on Sundays” in the club house. My grandfather was the manager, and I was paid under the table. I worked maybe 4 hours a week (realistically), and spent the rest of my time reading the comics section of the local newspaper and drawing cartoons of my own. Sweet gig.
On a seemingly-unrelated note, in the 35+ years since the release of Steven Spielberg’s epic JAWS, an endless horde of imitators has slithered, swam, scampered, gallops, and clawed across movie and television screens. Some of them have been quite good, some of them pretty bad, and a handful genuinely surreal.
Why do I tell you these two seemingly-unrelated stories? Because tonight I’m looking at a JAWS-clone set on a golf course. What stalks a golf course (Besides, in my experience, overly self-important senior league’rs)? Read on and find out.
Welcome to the Tall Grass Golf Course and Country Club. Meet Roy (Robert North), the new pro. On Roy’s first day, a horrifying discovery is made on the 8th Hole sand trap — a pair of mangled bodies, half-buried, hands locked in a proper club grip. The chief of police (an avid golfer) assures the public that the situation is under control, while the proprietor of the country club just wants the upcoming big tournament to go off without a hitch.
Soon more golfers are turning up dead and mangled. A meeting is called to ensure the golfing populace that there is no reason to panic, and Roy begins to suspect that a lawnmower is being used to commit these grisly murders. A manhunt is organized, which turns up Deke (Jeremy Whelan), the groundskeeper, lurking in the tall grass with an old push-mower. But there’s no way that old push mower’s blades are sharp enough to cut through human flesh — nor are they wide enough to create the gruesome wounds on the bodies…
BLADES is a fun little film. Sometimes it shears (haha) too closely to its source material in JAWS, however it is wildly inventive in adapting that source material for setting on a manicured golf course. The scene where the lawn-mower Deke had been found lurking with is inspected is an excellent case in point. It stands in for the first shark caught on Amity Island, which lulls the inhabitants into a false sense of “the threat is over.” Until Brody is convinced to cut open the shark’s belly, revealing a notable absence of human limbs. Here, a comment from Deke about the “bite radius” of the mower leads Roy to cut open the mower’s bag, and only grass-clippings spill out.
My only major complaint with this film was the audio mixing. Much of the dialogue is somewhat muted, while screaming and engine sounds are mixed much louder, forcing me to scramble for the “Volume Down” button. Kind of a pain in the ass.
All in all, BLADES is a fun, quirky little film, and a great way to spend an afternoon. Don’t expect Oscar-worthy acting or even particularly good special effects — this is a Troma-distributed film, after all. The budget is small, but the entertainment is big. I give it four chewed-through golfers out of a possible five.