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Saturday, October 14, 2023

Blood Bath (1966)

It has been a while since I’ve watched Blood Bath, but I remember thinking it was okay. This played on my local horror hosted shows in the seventies long before the fact it was co-directed by Jack Hill and produced by Roger Corman would have meant anything to me. Since I’m digging for some stuff to review in this years Halloween marathon it seemed like a good fit. 

The movie opens with a man talking to the painting of a woman. He is clearly not wrapped all that tightly. He begs for her to return to him and then the credits roll. Post opening credits we watch as another man stalks and kills a woman. We see his face and he has fangs so I suppose he must be a vampire. Then we see some annoying beatniks talking about their art. Here I was finally interested when I noticed frequent Corman collaborator Jonathon Haze as well as Sid Haig in small roles. Haig showed up in quite a few Jack Hill flicks so we have that connection as well. The beatniks are upset that their art doesn’t sell but folks are flocking in to buy the work of another artist, Sordi. His stuff is all about death. 

Here is when shit gets a bit weird. Sordi, played by another familiar face William Campbell, is a painter. In a bit of dialogue we find out that he is the ancestor of another painter who was killed, and his art destroyed. That picture from before is one of his paintings and somehow haunts Sordi. He paints and then kills ladies before tossing them into a vat of wax. Why does he do that when he is a painter? Not sure. The vampire is his ancestor who seems to come and go on his own. Initially I thought Sordi transformed into him but that never is explained. All I do know is that in the big finale all his previous victims in covered in wax come back to life and kill him. Wait… what the hell!

I have no idea what I was thinking or why I thought I liked Blood Bath. This movie is an absolute mess, but I guess it sort of makes some sense. Fans always want to act like Jack Hill and Roger Corman could do no wrong or at least they only talk about the good movies that they made. But both men were also not above making “product” for the drive-in market. Not worried so much about the quality and more about getting to that magical hour long runtime the second and third feature on a double/triple bill needed. If you could use footage from an earlier movie and cut some corners, then that was all the better. 

What we have here is a happy coincidence of actor William Campbell being available on the cheap and some footage to cut costs. When Corman was stuck with a movie he made in Yugoslavia named Operation Titian, a crime thriller with no supernatural elements, he reused some of the footage for this movie. That flick also starred William Campbell so they shot a few extra scenes with an American Cast, added in the beatniks and had another actor play a vampire. They stuck all they had together to hit that magical sixty two minute mark and viola you have a movie. 

Sadly, none of the footage works together and it feels like something that was assembled from ill-fitting pieces. I don’t want to act like this is padded out because I thought the stuff from Operation Titian looks cool (I will have to track that flick down someday to watch it) and the additional stuff with the beatniks has a fun Walter Paisley vibe to it. For those not in the know that last bit is referencing A Bucket of Blood from nineteen fifty nine which was another artist as a killer flick made by Corman. Plus, this is where we get to see Sid Haig, who has an actual role with dialogue! I would have loved to see an entire movie about those characters. The vampire stuff was lame though. Really this feels like three movies fighting against each other for my attention. 

Sometimes it was about the bottom line and not making a good movie for Roger Corman. Blood Bath is product meant to recoup some money from a failed project that initially couldn’t get much play. Knowing his ingenuity and reputation for making a profit I’m sure it worked. But as far as a movie this one isn’t worth your time.  

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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