Did you like The Thing? Are you getting a little jaded with the glut of vampire romances? The endless regurgitation of the zombie genre? The snore-worthiness of watching teenagers get slashed up for their sins? Well, just in case you assumed Austrian cinema is defined by Michael Haneke’s morbid dourness, here comes Marvin Kren who is going to rock your world with Blood Glacier. Those of you who like a smattering of wit and intelligence with your gore in movies like Let the Right One In, Troll, Frontiers, Trollhunter, Dead Snow and Mr. Kren’s own low-budget masterpiece Rammbock: Berlin Undead, this movie should definitely be on your Summer must-see list.
Mr. Kren’s blood-splattery bit of gory fun features vindictive flying insects, mad and slightly-less-so scientists and mutant beasties at an isolated Alpine weather station after the discovery of a sprawling, rust-colored hunk of ice. Quicker than you can say “donner und Blitzen” crossbreeding mayhem occurs. We don’t always get a good look at these mutants, but it’s still low-budget fun, fun, fun.
What a great group of characters Kren gives us. The grumpy technician, Janek (Gerhard Liebmann), his dog Tinni, Janek’s ex-girlfriend Tanja (Edita Malovcic), the grinning government minister on a propaganda tour (Mr. Kren’s mother, Brigitte Kren) making a publicity visit with a crew of media and PR staff. Kren soon unleashes the monsters. Poor Janek is unsure whether the monsters are real at first. He thinks it might just be the DTs and a vivid imagination, until he starts to see the bites.
Janek and Tinni come across a cave surrounded by a strange red substance covering a glacier. Inside, Tinni is attacked and wounded, and Janek fights off a strange fox-like creature. Janek brings in the scientists and they discover that the red substance is a biological entity formed from microbes that take the DNA of one infected host and mix it with the DNA contained in their own stomach, leading to the gestation of a brand-new hybrid with the physical form of the host creature and its very last meal. With a government minister visiting, the situation leads to an internal conflict between those who wish to seek help and those who wish to keep the discovery a secret until the visit is complete, with a view toward making some kind of “profit.” Overnight, however, there are so many of the vicious mutants around, the visiting minister is bound to see them.
That’s enough plot. The coolest thing about Blood Glacier is the locations, sweeping Austrian vistas and frozen mountain terrain. The cast are superb, especially Liebmann as the surly, cantankerous but conscientious Janek. Living in self-enforced exile due to an irreconcilable history with Tanja, it becomes obvious that he is still very much in love her. Thankfully, Malovcic plays equally well against his ‘type’ and they make a sort of trio that, as in a Disney movie, you can cheer for against the Mutants. And then there’s the surprise character of the movie, Minister Bodicek, as the director gives all the fun stuff to his mom as she transforms from a baby kisser to ass-kicker.
Not all the special affects work great. Some of the puppetry and violence is not 100% convincing, but I think I have now been spoiled too much by so much exposure to CGI work that I’ve become spoiled. Nevertheless, the physical design of the creatures is very impressive and actually rather frightening. A wonderful, good time flick!