Secrets & Lies – Rediscovering ‘Blood Relatives’ / ‘Les Liens De Sang’ (Canada/France – 1978 100 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - November 15, 2013
Secrets & Lies – Rediscovering ‘Blood Relatives’ / ‘Les Liens De Sang’ (Canada/France – 1978 100 mins)

The Most Intimate Act of all Is ……Murder!

Rediscovering ‘Blood Relatives’ / ‘Les Liens De Sang’ (Canada/France – 1978 – 100mins)

This French Canadian co-production is one of those movies that grabs you right from the off. As the opening titles roll, we see a bloodied teenage girl running through the rain soaked streets of Montreal late at night. After reaching a police station, she bursts through the entrance doors, leaving her bloodied hand prints on the glass. All the while, a creepily unnerving musical score plays over the credits.

Once inside, and after medical attention, the girl, Patricia Lowery (Aude Landry), tells the police that on their way home from a party, both she and her cousin Muriel (Lisa Langlois) were attacked by a stranger, who then forced Muriel at knifepoint to perform oral sex on him, after which he viciously stabbed her to death. Police inspector Steve Carella (Donald Sutherland) begins searching for suspects, interviewing various low-life’s and known sex criminals. After a while Patricia suddenly changes her account, saying that it was in fact her brother Andrew who is the murderer. Andrew was having a relationship with their cousin, and according to Patricia, he killed her when she tried to end it. However, Inspector Carella doesn’t believe this version, and continues with his investigation, using Muriel’s diary to reveal key information. To disclose anything more would be giving far too much away.

‘Blood Relatives’ was famed French director Claude Chabrol’s first English language movie. The often controversial director’s previous psychological thrillers include the acclaimed 1970 film ‘Le Boucher’ (The Butcher) and the provocative 1973 political thriller ‘Les Noches Rouge’ (Wedding in Blood). Chabrol later teamed with French star Isabelle Huppert for three successful movies including the sumptuous ‘Madame Bovary’ in 1991. He died aged 80 on September 12th 2010.

Canadian actor Donald Sutherland is excellent as the sympathetic inspector, while a pre-‘Halloween’ Donald Pleasence is unforgettable in his cameo as a fidgety sex offender. David Hemmings, Laurent Malet and Chabrol’s then wife (and frequent star) Stephane Audran, also appear in supporting roles.

With only a few credits to her name, talented 16 year old Aude Landry gives a strong performance in the difficult role of Patricia. Other than ‘Blood Relatives’, Landry’s only other prominent role, was that of Catriona in the 1978 TV series ‘Kidnapped’, starring David McCallum. Pretty Lisa Langlois made her movie debut here as the ill-fated Muriel Stark. Langlois would go on to appear in a string of 80’s genre fare, including John Huston’s ‘Phobia’ (1980), J. Lee Thompson’s ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ (1981), and the exploitation fan’s favourite, ‘Class of 1984’ (1982).

Not released in America until 1981, ‘Blood Relatives’ is a terrific, under-rated thriller, filled with an unsettling atmosphere, excellent performances and a memorable ending.

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