OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Bleeders aka Hemoglobin (1997)

Ah... H.P. Lovecraft.

I admit it, I am easy to please in some regards. Movies based on stories by HPL are one such thing. No matter how abysmally bad it is, I will see it and to some degree enjoy it. Bleeders aka Hemoglobin is based on the story "The Lurking Fear"... and indeed, it's not entirely off the mark.

The movie explains to us that there was a Dutch countess, Eva van Dam, who was of such a narcissistic nature that she only wished to make love to herself. Failing to be able to do that, she settled for the closest other thing: Her twin brother. And so, a love-story, fairy-tale and horrific dystopia began, lasting for hundreds of years...

Hemoglobin wants us to say hello to our main protagonist: John Strauss (as played by Roy Dupuis). He is pale, has lips that are a little bit too red, his eyes are of two different colours, he can't stand the sun for too long, he can't eat most foods, is always tired during the day, suffers from spontaneous nosebleeds and seizures as well as cramps, spasms and blackouts. It's clear from the beginning that he's not a healthy man.

Thing is, John Strauss is suffering from something that appears to be an incredibly rare genetic disease. John and his wife are traveling to an island from which John's ancestors possibly came from. There, they find some Dr. Marlowe (Rutger Hauer!)... and Dr. Marlowe doesn't come as the bearer of good news. Whilst he is examining the strange young man, the inhabitants of the island are exhuming coffins in the local burial ground - something there seems to be wrong with the ground, and they want to preserve the dead.

John and his wife (can't bother to look up the name right now) get a room at the local hotel. John has it bad - he can't stomach food, and even the mild light of dusk is too bright for his eyes. Walking around, they (well, mostly she) ask about the Strauss family - but to no avail. The people in this village aren't really willing to talk to people from outside the island.

[Insert sub-plot about necklace and burial and grave-robbery here]

Whilst John is falling asleep, his wife is visiting Dr. Marlowe, asking him if he thinks that what John has is hereditary. Dr. Marlowe mentions the Van Dams and their inbreeding habits - and shows her one of the Van Dam children.

Yes, that's formaldehyde.

Meanwhile, John is having flashbacks to... something. Somewhen. Disturbing images.

And he's hungry...

...it's night outside. And the gravedigger's daughter is out. Out in the graveyard...

It's a bit hard to type with that buzzing rhythm pulsing uncomfortably in my right side, so please bear with me. They travel to the Van Dam estate - it is empty now, as the last Van Dams died in a fire 75 years ago. An old woman is supposed to live up there, a nurse who might know more about John's disease.

Meanwhile, Dr. Marlowe is trying to make sense of John's test results, as he gets interrupted - by someone carrying the mauled body of a ...humanoid creature with him. Examining it further, the good Doctor ascertains that it appears to be human, but a hermaphrodite - a fully functional hermaphrodite, capable of replicating with itself.

Cut to John Strauss. He and his wife are surprised by an old woman who seems to recognise John. Further identification ensues, and the old woman tells him that he was the only surviving member of the Van Dam family, saved from the fire. When the talk turns to the desires and Cravings he feels, and he admit that he suffers from them but does not know what they are about, the old woman retreats fearfully, threatening both him and his wife and driving them away. Reluctantly, they leave.

In the meantime, we get one (1) child dragged into the ground through a hole.

Returning in fury, John demands of the old woman to know the truth - she couldn't have saved him from the fire because he wasn't 75 years old. It was his right to know the truth.

...and she shows him...

And the truth is... not all of the Van Dams are dead.

As a storm approaches mercilessly, the small island slowly descends into terror. John is sick and hardly able to move on his own; dark rain is cutting into the people's faces, thunder deafens human ears... and somewhere, something is crawling. Eating. Breeding. Feeding.

Dr. Marlowe discovers a group of... humanoids. Things. Mutated monstrosities of centuries of inbreeding... deformities feeding on corpses. It's the remaining family members of the Van Dams... apparently, they had been tunnelling underneath the cemetery for centuries since they disappeared from the eye of the public, feeding on corpses for generations - necrophagia and anthropophagia in general (but mostly necrophagia). Them lucky ghouls*.

Formulating an answer to John's problem in his mind, Marlowe talks to him and his wife, leaving a jar. With a Van Dam embryo in it. For John to feed on it.

After devouring the fetus, John is filled with vigour, life and power.

Then some other stuff happens. It involves a lot of screaming, hysterical people, deformed monstrosities, light, darkness, psychological terror, ...

...and then my favourite scene EVER.


And no, I won't tell you about it (actually, it's two scenes, but what the heck).

Bleeders aka Hemoglobin is a very atmospheric movie; a friend of mine called it "dreamy", and I think that's a word that can be employed with a good conscience when talking about this movie. It has a dream-like quality - much more so than the short story "The Lurking Fear" upon which this movie was loosely based.

If you like Lovecraftian inbreeding stories, then you should enjoy Bleeders a lot. And if you like slightly weird, character-centered movies, you should give it a go as well. I would recommend it to the vampires-crowd, but Hemoglobin isn't pretty and shiny enough for that. And I'm perfectly fine with that. Ghouls have rights, too**.

Rutger Hauer's performance is not as great as it could have been, but then again, I compare each of his performances with The Hitcher... so he naturally pales in comparison to his old self. Roy Dupuis has some really fine moments in the second act of the movie - when the film starts, I sometimes wanted to bitchslap him for being artificial, but during the second act, everything he did became fluent and natural. I now wonder if I haven't been a bit too harsh, for maybe the artificiality of the character of John Strauss is not just an accident of bad acting but an intended characterisation of the persona being incorporated.

9/10 whole new sets of senses...

*You might be wondering why I classify this as a ghoul movie, but considering my personal definition of a ghoul, it fits.

**If I ever should find myself leader of a political party, that will be my motto.


  1. Phae here. When you run, can I be your running mate?
    Ghouls indeed have rights and should be recognized by law!

  2. Hehehehehehehe As an Islander from Grand Manan (The island it was filmed on) I must say the pictures of the north head light house are lovely ^-^ lol And yes we are as strange as this summery portrays us to be MUWAHAHHA lol JK