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A young woman who seduces men, slaughters them and drinks their blood to feed the demon she lodges in her womb. Yanka, the heroine of BABY BLOOD will not have moved the crowds in 1990. However, Alain Robak’s film deserves to be (re) seen, as it was a precursor and herald of a certain French genre cinema.
When it was released in 1990, BABY BLOOD ofAlain Robak did not make much noise. Finally Yes. With a public of initiates, amateur of genre. The improbable feature film won the jury prize at the Avoriaz International Fantastic Film Festival. And this, while he was presented out of competition – a situation hitherto unprecedented and remained unique. The anecdote behind this award is absolutely crisp. And for good reason. Even though he was disappointed to see his work excluded from the competition, the young Alain Robak cross Wes craven, undisputed master of horror, father of Freddy Krueger and the saga Scream. The latter admits to having been flabbergasted by BABY BLOOD and does not understand that he cannot compete for a prize. Thus, Craven went on a crusade with the jury and won. Unbelievable.
All the more incredible that a proposal such as BABY BLOOD now seems to perfectly fulfill the specifications of the festival film. In a time that crowns Titanium Palme d’Or, it is difficult to understand how the filmAlain Robak could have been excluded from the competition in its time. A French-language genre film. With all that this baggage implies. In particular the ineluctable support of the French niche, previously represented by Avoriaz, nowadays by Gérardmer. However, at the time, even in the place where the horror film should logically be celebrated, BABY BLOOD is judged “Too bloody”. It is therefore easier to understand why the Palme de Ducournau, awarded by a prestigious and pluralist festival – far from these genre niches, is almost a miracle.
Behead Audiard, slaughter Chabat
If he hadn’t been noticed by Wes craven, what would we have kept from BABY BLOOD ? Surely little, apart from the surrealist appearances of certain eminences of the French-speaking audiovisual landscape. Because yes, under the blows of Yanka, a young circus artist condemned to drink blood to feed the demon in her belly, notably fall Alain Chabat and Jacques Audiard. And they die with their throats slit in an iconic rattle for one, beheaded by a car jack for the other. We also meet the late one Jean-Yves Lafesse, despicable as a satyr truck driver, bizarre and disturbing. Everyone came to this shoot to have fun, elated by the prospect of a French gore movie. The evil Dead of Sam raimi are not far away. From now on, amateurs want blood, but also and above all fun.
Now, fun, BABY BLOOD spills liters of it, like so much hemoglobin. The film is teeming with obvious creativity, as well as endearing candor. We indeed notice a very distinct love for the bloody American film. We perceive something of the Maniac of William lustig, in its filthy decorations and its sticky atmosphere. Also, a sense of self-mockery and a creaking humor in this demon, who can be heard speaking directly to Yanka in a thin little voice. The French touch certainly stands out through this character elsewhere. Yanka, this woman who, during the story, really takes possession of her sexuality. A sexuality, of which she was at first sight the passive victim: Emmanuelle Escourrou first plays an ingenuous, then a voracious and captivating predator.
Because yes, BABY BLOOD turns out to be so interesting that he dares to invert the codes. Years before The Devil’s Reject, the camera chooses to follow not the victim, but the aggressor. Also, to make this abuser sympathetic. Ten years ago Buffy the vampire slayer, the one we imagine to be the victim even becomes a dangerous fury, capable of turning a weapon against its oppressor. Precursor, pioneer, BABY BLOOD however suffers from the weight of years and may seem laughable to the uninitiated viewer. Notwithstanding, the enlightened genre lover will marvel at this jewel of French horror, perhaps a little fallen into disuse, to be sure – but certainly not negligible. Because for a TITANIUM webbed, let’s never forget that it took several dozen BABY BLOOD to risk oneself, to risk oneself and to grope in the dark.