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Bad Blood (1981)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 1982 (New Zealand)
During World War 2, a farmer in New Zealand murders seven people, and the police, along with local Maori trackers, hunt him in the bush country.


Mike Newell


Andrew Brown (screenplay), Howard Willis (based on 'Manhunt'-the Story of Stanley Graham)


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Thompson ... Stanley Graham
Carol Burns Carol Burns ... Dorothy Graham
Denis Lill Denis Lill ... Ted Best
Donna Akersten Donna Akersten ... Doreen Bond
Martyn Sanderson Martyn Sanderson ... Les North
Marshall Napier ... Trev Bond
Cliff Wood Cliff Wood ... Henry Growcott
David Copeland David Copeland ... George Lindsay
Ken Blackburn Ken Blackburn ... Tommo Robson
John Bach ... Bert Cropp
John Banas John Banas ... Macko Hager
John Black John Black ... Greg Hutchison
Karl Bradley Karl Bradley ... Maxi Coulson
Greg Naughton Greg Naughton ... Anker Madsen
Alan Jervis Wilks ... Ralph Frederic (as Alan Jervis)
Learn more

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During World War 2, a farmer in New Zealand murders seven people, and the police, along with local Maori trackers, hunt him in the bush country.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They could try to take his guns ... from his cold dead hands! See more »


Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The film was shot in the Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi Valley, where Stanley Graham and his family did actually live and where all the events occurred (shootings, manhunt). There is a memorial to the victims of Stan Graham at the location of his house. The house has been demolished. See more »


Featured in Jack Thompson Discusses 'Bad Blood' (2005) See more »

User Reviews

Won't Be Endorsed by the National Rifle Association
17 July 2005 | by Sturgeon54See all my reviews

Don't let the badly chosen B-movie-ish title fool you, this film is better than that. Set in rural New Zealand during the early stages of WWII in the 1940s, this film portrays the true story of Stanley Graham, a poor farmer with a wife and two kids. Unable to connect with the more well-bred surrounding community, and treated as outcasts (part of that being their own fault), he and his wife become increasingly paranoid about the bank and mortgage companies foreclosing on their small plot of land because of their ever-increasing debts. Making matters worse, the local police chief confiscates Graham's best firearm for use in the war, further enraging him and convincing him that the whole town is out to get him and his family. When the police finally do come to confiscate his land, he cracks up - killing the officers, fleeing, and becoming a fugitive in what became the biggest manhunt in New Zealand history.

The best thing about this film is its topicality, which extends far beyond the specific time and place portrayed here. There are parallels here to the cases of David Koresh and Randy Weaver here in the U.S. - two other crazed rural isolationists obsessed with firearms and perpetuators of violence when confronted by government officials. In fact, director Newell does a fine job of setting up in the beginning just how central a role firearms play in the daily life of this isolated community - they seem to be everywhere in the first few scenes, and even children play with toy guns intensely. A film like this pokes holes in the rhetoric of the NRA which says defiantly, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Well, yes, Graham is slightly nuts from the beginning, but how likely would the massacre he creates have been had he not had such easy access to the rifles, which play such a central part in his psychology? Also, it is interesting to note that Graham seems to be the kind of competent professional with a firearm that the NRA so often endorses as its core consituency, yet we don't seem him using it for any legitimate hunting purposes at all - only to kill other human beings.

Australian veteran actor Jack Thompson, as always, turns in a fine performance as Graham - totally immersing himself in the role of a cloistered-up nutcase with the us-versus-them mentality which would lead to an inevitable standoff with the outside world. Not surprisingly, he is much more adept at using his rifles than his pursuers, killing and wounding just about everyone he fires at, and creating an intense hatred in the posse organized to catch him.

Newell has done an excellent job of creating the small period details of the setting, from showing the organized women's war production to the local dance and rationing for the war in this community. Additionally, Gary Hansen's cinematography and camera-work has an exquisite feel for the New Zealand Landscape.

The major flaw is that here is a film which has traces of further ambitions beyond itself, but unfortunately did not capitalize upon them. The build-up of Graham and his wife's paranoia following real and imagined humiliations from the community in the first half is riveting. Unfortunately, the second half loses steam, as the organization of the posse and manhunt seems rather inconsequential and pedestrian. Graham supposedly became something of a folk hero to the country, but this is only hinted at by one or two lines from peripheral characters. Newell would have been wiser to expand this theme further: the pathology of Graham is definitely universal, and there are likely traces of it in any isolated rural community. That is much more interesting than an obligatory chase. However, these flaws owe more to the script than Newell's direction, which is very accomplished. Throughout the entire film, Newell's direction retains the conviction that we are witnessing important historical events unfolding. It is too bad that the script does not delve much deeper than the superficial storyline of a nutcase who kills several people and get chased by the police. Still worthwhile, though.

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New Zealand | UK



Release Date:

1982 (New Zealand) See more »

Also Known As:

Böses Blut See more »

Filming Locations:

New Zealand

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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