Baby Blood

(The Evil Within, Alain Robak, France, 1989)


Baby Blood represents a species of French film we rarely see in Australia. It is a classically generic, perfectly vulgar horror movie. Not an art-horror hybrid such as Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981) or a knowing parody such as Peter Jackson’s Braindead (1992), but the real thing – full of gory special effects and lascivious sexual images.

And it is a rare treat indeed to read lewd jokes worthy of Benny Hill in pristine subtitles.

Viewers with a particular interest in the representation of women in horror cinema will scream with delight at this one. Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou) is a circus performer who, one troubled night, is impregnated by a ghastly parasite that has travelled all the way to France from the swamps of Africa.

The beast grows within her, inflicting pain and demanding blood. Carrying this monster around in her womb makes Yanka understandably touchy: she immediately murders anyone who tries to convince her of the delights of marriage and motherhood.

Although it starts like yet another Z grade version of King Kong, Baby Blood soon becomes a rivetingly gruesome yarn of Yanka’s struggle to survive the hideous gestation of her mutant child.

Director and co-writer Alain Robak plays many mindboggling variations on the central theme, ranging in mood from the quasi-pornographic to the unexpectedly tender. In a demented echo of the Look Who’s Talking series, Robak even has Baby conversing with Yanka from within the womb, covering every topic from the joy of sex to the terror of patriarchy.

© Adrian Martin October 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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