Homicide detective Steve Carella is trying to solve the brutal murder of 17-year-old Muriel Stark. Her younger cousin Patricia, who saw the killer and barely escaped with her life, helps him. However, the case soon takes a bizarre turn.
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Montreal: Late at night the teenage Patricia flees into a police department, covered all over with blood. She states together with her cousin she took shelter from rain in an entry way on their way home from a party, when an unknown man threatened them, forced her cousin to perform oral sex and then killed her. Patricia could barely escape. The police starts searching among the known sex criminals - but then Patricia changes her statement and states her brother Andrew, who had an affair with his cousin, was the murderer. Inspector Carella doesn't quite believe both the statements.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
While the original French version of the film is composed by Claude Chabrol's regular composer Pierre Jansen, for the English release a new score was composed by Howard Blake. Blake said: "In March 1978 I had just finished arranging and recording period dance music and acting as Musical Director on the film Agatha (1979) and was waiting for 2 weeks for the final cut to be ready for scoring. I was down at Shepperton and happened to meet Peter Collinson, famous for directing The Italian Job (1969). He asked if I would have time to write 'a few cues' for a film by Claude Chabrol called Blood Relatives (1978). I said I thought that Chabrol always had his own composer to score for him, but Peter explained that he and Michael Klinger had acquired the English-language film rights outright and they thought with a new score the film might succeed in the USA/UK market. I had some qualms about this and whether I had the time, but was talked into it and wrote a score within the 2 weeks, recording it at CTS Wembley on April 5th with Sid Sax's 'National Philharmonic Orchestra' and my favourite engineer John Richards. I used a very dark scoring for the horrifying opening with 4 bass flutes, Bass Clarinet, 2 bassoons, Contra-bassoon, 4 Horns, 3 trombones, harp, celesta, 2 percussion and 2 double basses. Later when Donald Sutherland meets the apparently-innocent young girl out at her parents in the country I introduced a string orchestra. The composed music added up to about 20 minutes in all. I have no idea whether Claude Chabrol ever heard it. If he did I hope he wasn't too upset since I was a great fan of his films from Le Beau Serge (1958) and Les Cousins (1959) onwards." See more »
I honestly can't believe that this film isn't more highly rated. Claude Chabrol could be described as something like a French Alfred Hitchcock, and while this film is only the second one of his that I've seen (the first being Le Boucher), I can already see that this guy is something special just on the strength of these two films. The film is a French and Canadian co-production, and takes place in Canada. The cast is made up of British and Canadian stars and the high quality performances bode well with the rest of the film; most of which is high quality also. The film is a murder mystery and begins when a young girl covered in blood is brought into a police station. After being questioned by Inspector Carella, it emerges that the young girl, Patricia, and her sister Muriel were attacked by a man who killed the sister and only just allowed Patricia to flee. However, as the investigation goes on, Patricia goes back to the station to give new evidence, which reveals a far more shocking identity to the murderer.
The performances in this film are excellent. Donald Sutherland is subdued as usual, but he suits the role he's given here very well and I wouldn't hesitate to name his performance in Blood Relatives as one of his very best. The film also features supporting turns from British stars Donald Pleasance and David Hemmings who both give good turns; Pleasance in particular who shows just how great an actor he can be and highlights what a shame it is that he went on to waste himself in Halloween films. The unknown Aude Landry also gives a great performance in her role as Patricia. The movie is very mysterious for the first hour and really keeps the audience hooked. When Inspector Carella discovers Muriel's diary, the film turns into more of a drama in which the girl's last actions are shown; and while this section of the film is not as good as what went before it, it's still interesting and leads into a great twist at the end! Overall, Blood Relatives is a great film that really deserves to be better seen. Le Boucher is a better known effort from Chabrol, but for my money this is at least as good! Highly recommended viewing.
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