Ever since seeing Rammbock: Berlin Undead – a romantic zombie flick with ten times more heart than Warm Bodies – I’ve been excitedly awaiting Marvin Kren’s creature feature follow-up Blood Glacier. Promoting itself as Austria’s answer to The Thing, Kren’s ability to scare and entertain seemed perfectly suited for silly practical effects and grotesque monster work, but before I could even enjoy an onslaught of vicious, hybrid animals, one simple decision turned what could have been a fun B-Movie into a schlocky, dismissible dud. What decision might that be? English. Language. Dubbing. Some people may complain about “multitasking,” reading subtitles and watching cinema at the time, but I must beg international markets to stop taking the “easy” way out for viewers. Would you rather have to read something, or suffer through flat, monotone voices that don’t even match moving lips? When a dog has the most genuine dialogue through a film, you KNOW something is amiss.
Living in a research facility located amongst the Austrian Alps, a team of scientists discover a strange red liquid leaking out of a glacial formation. Approaching the situation with an exploratory mentality, Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) remains skeptical while the scientists around him only think of discovering something extraordinaire. Knowledge is power, but it’s also dangerous when dealing with the unknown – a warning our group takes seriously when hybrid creatures start rummaging through their garbage with extreme prejudice. Could this unknown substance be transforming anything that comes in contact with it, starting with the Alps’ wildlife? And, more importantly, is the research facility safe anymore?
Before discussing Blood Glacier, let’s address the billion ton elephant in the research facility – horrendous, atmosphere-crushing voice dubbing. I don’t get it – honestly. When you eliminate an actor’s real voice and simply record over it, every bit of the actor’s emotionality is wiped away like notes on a chalkboard. Characters could be having a physical fist fight, yet when yelling and taunting throughout, the voice actors don’t pant and breathe heavily from the strenuous activity. Hell, Janek talks while his tongue flops out, yet the voice actor speaks clearly as nothing is impeding his air passage – ‘effing seriously?! A tremendous disconnect is created while voice artists in a studio attempt to recreate natural situational responses, but without actually being attacked by nasty creatures, we’re subjected to numerous characters who emote as colorfully as Ben Stein.
Perhaps the biggest offender of this crime is Tanja (Edita Malovicic), as some poor actress can only sit by as some horrid dubbing turns her character into a unwatchable laughingstock. Voices never match, mouths move with no audio, momentum and energy are desecrated, and most of all, such a pitiful excuse for dubbing does nothing but distract – turning this horror movie into an unintentional comedy perfectly suited for the next relaunch of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
With a title like Blood Glacier, certain expectations are created – which Kren delivers on a SyFy budget. Originality breaks through as our scientists discover the “blood” colored glacier is filled with microorganisms who mutate lifeforms, creating some gnarly hybrid puppetry like spiked eagles and ferocious killer goats, but their presentation lacks a lively spark. The little (and bigger) buggers can’t entertain beyond initial shock values, as rigged puppeteering and violently shaky camera tactics distract from creatures with extremely limited ranges of motion. Illusions of reality struggle to remain true as our actors wrestle with mauled toys, despite undead details and snarling faces. The Thing‘s production design team were years ahead of their time – but Blood Glacier unfortunately feels like a dull step backwards.
While laughable dubbing ruined mostly everything for me, lackluster moments showed that Kren’s film still had numerous struggles beyond Global Warming. While characters were being voiced by “professionals” who sounded like working was a form of punishment, Benjamin Hessler’s script didn’t exactly paint a poetic picture through language. Maybe our voice talent found themselves lulled into a state of boredom by such vibrant lines as “..the greatest scientific discovery, possibly ever!” Forever, ever?! The English dubbing may have just been half the battle, as even by low-budget monster movie standards, Blood Glacier sports some atrocious character dialogue – only worsened by lazy voiceovers.
Diving deeper down the rabbit hole, random characters (a raver, specifically) are introduced without any warning or reasoning, gigantic wounds are completely ignored on sickly people, blood ISN’T spilled while slicing open a highly muscular thigh region, and a random banana joke is attempted without a single rational explanation on any front. Yes, Kren goes full “random banana joke” – something I’ve never seen attempted in any movie. Ever. Blood Glacier is full of mixed messages, exemplified by numerous characters showing more emotional trauma after watching an unknown person die versus TWO of their very own hiking group members, making me wonder if horror was actually the intended genre of Kren’s wintery graveyard.
Part of me wants to recommend Blood Glacier to audiences looking to do nothing but heckle a failed B-Movie, but not even that scenario sounds mildly appealing. Moments of English dubbing are downright painful, destroying entire scenes that might have been exciting and action-packed otherwise. If you love monster movies where every character sounds exactly the same, motionless creations are manipulated by camera tricks, and medical logic is thrown out into the cold, you’ll still have trouble stomaching this throwback wannabe – unless you can find a subtitled version elsewhere.
Blood Glacier is exactly why English dubbing should be abolished for foreign movies. It destroys what could have been a fun creature flick with emotionless, bland voice work that does nothing but distract.