• Blood Bath


    Released by: MGM Limited Edition Collection
    Released on: 5/16/2011
    Director: Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman
    Cast: William Campbell, Sig Haig, Lori Saunders
    Year: 1966
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    The Movie:

    1966’s Blood Bath, co-directed by Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman, tells the horrifying tale of an artist named Antonio Sordi (William Campbell) who we learn very early on in the film is quite insane. How do we know this? Well, he claims to be an old ancestor of his, reincarnated many years after being sentenced to death and burned at the stake for nefarious activity.

    Antonio spends most of his time squirreled away in his gloomy, dank studio but finds time to break away from his painting from time to time in order to head out into the streets clothed in a dark cloak in order to pick up chicks. For such a weird dude, he actually does pretty well in this department and once he’s got a foxy lady’s attention, seems to have all the luck he needs in order to convince them to go back to his place. This routine of his doesn’t stop there though, nor does it stop with a romp in the sack – nope, once Antonio gets his chosen hottie back to his pad he paints them! This seems innocent enough until he finishes his painting and then kills the women, before covering their bodies in wax!

    Antonio’s bizarre hobby is going swimmingly until, while out on the prowl one night, he meets a gorgeous young woman named Dorean (Lori Saunders) who he suspects is the reincarnated form of his reincarnated self’s former lover.

    Also released with roughly ten minutes worth of extra footage under the alternate title of Track Of The Vampire, this shorter Blood Bath cut of the film represents the theatrical version of the movie. It’s a choppy picture to be sure, and a large part of why that is stems from the fact that it was basically cut together from three different sources. Corman originally backed a Yugoslavian horror film called Operation: Titan but wasn’t happy with the way it turned out – you’ll spot this footage very easily as it has a very surrealist tone to it. He recycled some of that footage and so he threw some money at the ever reliable Jack Hill to come up with some new material to use in conjunction with the Yugoslavian footage. Hill used a few of his regulars, and so that’s why you wind up seeing Sid Haig and a few other familiar faces in the movie. Corman wasn’t happy with Hill’s work and so he kicked him off the project and got Stephanie Rothman to take over where he left off. So basically the film is a bit of a mess.

    In addition to the main plot there are subplots about missing siblings, random scenes of surrealism that feel like they were lifted out of a Fernando Arrabal movie, and wacky dubbing and synch issues galore. The whole thing has a really strange vibe to it in that none of the performances are particularly good, and yet somehow there’s this really bizarre, morbid atmosphere to the whole production that will certainly appeal to fans of black and white gothic horror. At just over sixty minutes in length the film doesn’t overstay its welcome and it goes by before you realize it’s even really started. It’s choppy, erratic, periodically nonsensical but it’s also rather fascinating and definitely worth seeing for Corman/Hill fans.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    MGM’s 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks pretty good. The black and white image does show some wear and tear and some scenes show a good bit more print damage than others making it easy to tell what scene came from where, but overall the image is pretty stable and it looks good in widescreen. Contrast is decent, black levels reasonably solid though never quite reference quality, and detail good as well.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital Mono track, there are no alternate language tracks or subtitles provided. The clarity is generally fine, though there are bits that sound a little flat, which likely stems back to the source. Minor hiss is present once or twice but if you’re not listening for it you probably won’t be bothered by it.

    The disc includes a static menu, chapter selection and that’s it.

    The Final Word:

    Blood Bath doesn’t always make the most sense and it’s not the most plot intensive horror film you’re likely to see but you’ve got to appreciate its wacky sense of atmosphere and the fact that, as disjointed as it is, it builds to a pretty impressive conclusion. This is one that really should have had a commentary and included the alternate scenes – that didn’t happen, we didn’t even get a trailer – but at least it looks pretty good in widescreen.











    Comments 2 Comments
    1. George Barry's Avatar
      George Barry -
      Good review, Ian. I think, Blood Bath is a good deal more enjoyable than the padded Track of the Vampire, which in turn, is somewhat more enjoyable than Portrait in Terror/Operation Titan.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Thanks George! It's a screwy film to be sure but a fun one!