Sunday, August 14, 2011

Take Me Out to the Blood Games

You must understand something before reading my thoughts on 1990’s girl-powered revenge film centered on a female baseball team: I love A League of Their Own. It’s watched every year without fail and quoted just about any time the subject of crying, swing dancing, Jon Lovitz, charm school, or penis in hats comes up. Had Labyrinth not started with the letter L, it easily would have made my cinematic alphabet. Part of this comes from the fact that it's an absolutely wonderful movie, a rare successful studio comedy containing an entire team's worth of worthy performances and sharp writing. The other part is that I love baseball.
Hence, when Netflix told me that queuing up the forgettable Steve Austin actionfest Hunt to Kill implied I Might Also Like 1990's Blood Games, I took the following description:

A team of sexy female baseball players whips the local rednecks -- and things turn violent when the men refuse to pay up for losing in this campy thriller. While team manager Midnight (Ross Hagen) tries to collect the cash, the locals attack some of the babes. Soon it's an all-out war, with the hometown hicks hunting down the women, who start fighting back after a few of their teammates wind up dead.

and imagined--quite correctly--that I had finally found the movie to complete my grand slam of baseball cinema (for the record, the other two runners are Field of Dreams and Major League).

Quick Plot: Meet the Ball Girls, a sassy team of female baseball players who cruise through small towns to challenge the locals to friendly games while Coach Midnight earns some dough betting on their victory. The money, sadly, does not go towards uniform expenses as the girls play in roomy cotton hotpants, presumably to distract their male opponents or because they're all masochists who love nothing more than a good sliding bruise.

After a whopping 17-2 win over a team of crass and grope-happy hillbillies, Midnight is stiffed by the Sam Elliot-like opposing coach but the badass Ball Girl boss takes matters into his own hands in the men’s room of a Double Deuce-like roadhouse. Too bad a few infielders get nearly raped in the process, leading to a chaotic brawl that somehow ends up with Not Sam Elliot’s son car-crushed and Midnight stabbed in the belly.
What’s a frazzled coach-less team to do? Certainly not drive their bus to a hospital or call the police. It’s far better to flee the scene of the crime with a dying man until a few intense car chases lead to a breakdown and backwoods Rambo-esque escape. See, that passing line about how Not Sam Elliot is a cheap mercenary actually has some merit: although he wouldn’t pony up a grand to pay Coach Midnight, he’s more than willing to drop $1000 for each pretty hair tie-less head his other goons can bring him after the death of his son. 

The battle rages.
At a certain point, half the girls vow to take vengeance while the pitcher and team captain Babe preaches that they must stay together. That actually means that the brunettes will continue on towards safety while the blonds are left on their own to serve up some seductive payback.
Oh, and get gang raped. Just because this is directed by a woman (maybe) doesn’t mean we’re going to skimp on the misogyny! It’s not just that there’s violence committed against women; it’s HOW it’s filmed. Take, for example, the early attempted rapes which find reason to cut to closeups of the almost-victim’s bare breasts. Sure, we’d just spent a good ten minutes ogling the same women as they lounged around the locker room, but the shots are deliberately sleazy in a meaner manner than is necessary for an exploitation film.

That doesn’t mean that Blood Games isn’t the greatest thing of all time. This is primarily evident in the final scene, where

The last redneck standing has Babe’s little sister (and team catcher) in a sleeper hold. Using her pitch calling skills, Kit--I mean Dottie--I mean, Little Sister In Blood Games gives Babe a sign for a fast ball up and inside...of the redneck’s FACE.
Eff. Yeah.
High Points
An early bathroom brawl scene has Not Sam Elliot fist-fighting with his pants around his ankles. For whatever reason, this made me happy
Low Points
There’s a reason All the Way May and Doris didn’t want to wear those skorts when playing ball: because no self-respecting ballplayer would EVER slide with that much exposed skin. I know, I know: the audience of Blood Games has higher priorities than sporting accuracy, but still. Have a little respect and if nothing else, LET THEM TIE THEIR ENORMOUS HAIR BACK

Lessons Learned
Maybe your team wouldn’t be losing 17-2 against an all-female squad if every player didn’t swig a beer before stepping up to the plate
If a team is named “Ball Girls,” you should have no reason whatsoever to think that they might have some skills at throwing balls at your own
After being stabbed in the gut, the best course of action is to drink water and dab the wound with a fluffy towel
The Winning Insults:
Redneck 1: You drink beer the way you piss.
Redneck 2: You piss the way you drink beer.
I’m not sure who got the better zap!, but I’m totally cool with using both.
Missed Marketing Opportunity
The final scene of Blood Games features a slow motioned montage highlighting all the women that died in the last 90 minutes. TELL ME someone didn’t take these screenshots and turn them into tradeable baseball cards?
Now streaming on Instant Watch, Blood Games is fairly wonderful dose of late ‘80s sleaze that offers something for everyone: bare breasts of tough chicks for the gents and girl powered vengeance for the ladies. Yes, it’s a dreadfully sexist movie that might prove offensive to some viewers, but those who love the stench of Cheese Wiz will find it to be a homerun. 


  1. I watched Blood Games on demand a few years back after being instantly sold by the premise, and it was actually one of my early Paracinema reviews! It's odd how the first half is this somewhat cheesy and fun '80s bleeding into the '90s film, but when they get into the woods, it's a whole different ball game. I enjoyed how it became a woods/survival film, and then even a rap/revenge film, which was unexpected with how the movie starts off.

    From what I remember, the director only has one credit to her name, and I am of the belief that Tanya Rosenberg was a made up name by a male director who didn't want to receive any backlash for the films more misogynistic aspects. I could be wrong, but one credit is sort of suspicious.

    Also, I've had a review of Hunt to Kill waiting in the wings forever!

  2. I've read it Matt! Even commented on there and yes, it's an oldie!

    Excited to read your Hunt to Kill review. It bored me, save for the incredibly hard-working Gil Bellows who seemed thrilled to play a bad guy.

    And yes, I would not in the least be surprised to learn Tanya Rosenberg is actually Tom.

  3. Field of Dreams? Ugh!
    *I* took those screenshots and put them onto baseball cards, mwuhahahaha! Actually I just made them into a Guile them goes with everything video, haha! Joking aside, Blood Games looks like a lot of fun...unlike Field of Dreams!

  4. I can understand someone not liking Field of Dreams, but I just buy it. I love the odd poetry of it, and as a lifelong baseball fan who still treasures those days of playing catch with dad, I tear up every time.

    I'm also a pansy.

  5. how sad am i that this is not on Netflix in Canada? Very Sad.

  6. I think i was one of those guys, who was balling at the end of Field of Dreams, haven't seen that since original release though.

    Blood Games sounds like a lot of fun, but alas as Vish notes, is not available in Canada..

    who the fuck runs netfux canada anyhow?! :(

  7. If only it were about hockey! It'd be your nation's Wizard of Oz!

  8. Just watched this last night after seeing your, those girls still had that awesome 80's hair and shorts, even though it was the 90's...LOVE that. Pretty entertaining revenge flick.

  9. Well, I think the release date is 1990 so you have to figure those ladies scrambled to finish filming in '89. Flat ironing those manes would've been IMPOSSIBLE if reshoots were required!

  10. Substitute rednecks for - New York Yankees.. i'd like to see a team of babes put a whuppin on some slimy NY Yankee players..

  11. You and me both TD, you and me both...

  12. Sorry TD9, your comment got lost in the moderation page for some reason. I sob at Field of Dreams every time, although for me, it starts when Moonlight Graham finds that hot dog and heads back home, continues through James Earle Jones' speech I like to call "People Will Come," and ends with that catch with pops. I can understand why some folks despise the film--particularly if you don't have any emotion tied to baseball--but it just works magic for me.