We revisit British director Mike Newell’s 1982 dramatisation of the 12-day manhunt for mass-murderer Stanley Graham on New Zealand's remote West Coast.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
A co-production with the UK, Bad Blood made news at the time of its release but was virtually lost to New Zealand – until it was traced to a film laboratory in England. Bad Blood dramatises the 12-day manhunt for mass-murderer Stanley Graham that began when he shot several constables in the small West Coast town of Koiterangi in October 1941. The film positions Graham and his wife, played by Australians Jack Thompson and Carol Burns, as increasingly paranoid outsiders in an otherwise easy-going small community (Howard Willis’ book is less sparing than the film in analysing the locals’ mishandling of the manhunt). The scale of period recreation on display here may astound 21st-century audiences – and the wealth of Kiwi acting talent is almost painful to behold: how few movie opportunities were to follow for these actors. Opportunities were not so rare for the director Mike Newell whose Four Weddings and a Funeral was to change the course of entertaining fluff forever. — BG