• Bloody Judge, The

    Released by: Mediumrare Entertainment
    Released on: January 21, 2013.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Christopher Lee, Maria Rohm, Dennis Price
    Year: 1970

    The Movie:

    Directed by Jess Franco, The Bloody Judge isn’t quite the salacious exercise in Eurotrash you might expect it to be, and while it has some moments of effective horror, it often feels like more of a historical drama than a horror picture. With that said, it’s also quite well made and well worth seeing, even if it was obviously intended to ride on the coattails of Michael Reeves’ popular Vincent Price vehicle, Witchfinder General.

    Set in the England of 1865, we meet Judge Jeffries (Christopher Lee), a stern administrator quick to hand out horrible punishment to those he deems guilty and who is only too happy to hand out the death sentence as he sees fit, with some help from his esteemed executioner (Howard Vernon). When a young woman named Alicia Gray (Margaret Lee) is brought before him on charges of witchcraft, he declares her guilty and has her punished in the dungeon before being burned alive at the stake, much to the disgust and utter sadness of her sister, Mary (Maria Rohm).

    Mary eventually winds up falling for a man named Harry Selton (Hans Hass) who is just as upset with Jeffries’ rule of terror as she is. He decides to do something about it and sets about to remove him from his seat of power. Though this does not sit well with Selton’s father, the Earl of Wessex (Leo Genn), as he is quite friendly with Jeffries, but Harry is determined and Mary willing to help him in any way that she can.

    Based on actual events that did indeed take place centuries ago, The Bloody Judge was distributed domestically by AIP who chopped out most of the gore and nudity and released it in a fairly sanitized PG version to play in American theaters. The version included on the DVD release by Mediumrare Entertainment is the same full strength cut that was put out on DVD domestically by Blue Underground some years ago, and it includes all of the stronger material. Even in its uncut form, however, Franco shows some restraint here, comparatively speaking at least, and though the torture scenes do pack a bit of a punch, the pale in comparison to some of his more explicit work.

    The film, however, is quite good – good enough at least that it doesn’t need to rely on the more salacious material to work. In terms of location photography the movie is very nicely shot and makes great use of some old castles to give it a very authentic feel. The cinematography is inspired and even slick in spots, and Franco’s trademark overuse of the zoom lens is never really an issue in this movie. Additionally, he’s really working with a great cast here. Lee is obviously into the part and enjoying his role while Rohm is as beautiful as she’s ever been. Howard Vernon is a bit underused but good in his supporting role while Hans Hass does fine in the role of the film’s hero. Maria Schell and Diana Lorys also appear here in small parts. Toss in a very effective score courtesy of famed Italian composer Bruno Nicolai and this one stands out as one of the better movies that Franco made for producer Harry Alan Towers, even if it’s a little slow in spots.


    The 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this DVD won’t blow you away but it looks pretty decent. Some minor ghosting can be spotted in a couple of scenes where fast movement occurs and the image can be a bit soft in spots but print damage is never more than a minor problem and the elements used here appear to have been in reasonably good shape.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono track on the disc shows its age but does the trick. The dialogue is easy enough to understand and follow though some scenes are a bit flat. The levels are generally balanced well and there’s only minor hiss and distortion present. In short, the audio is fine.

    The twenty-five minute Bloody Jess featurette that was included on the Blue Underground NTSC release from a few years back is ported over to this disc. In the piece, Lee and Franco, recorded separately, discuss making the movie, the history behind the film and more. A five minute deleted scene sourced from a worn out tape source is here too, as are four interesting alternate scenes that are worth checking out. The US trailer under the Night Of The Blood Monster alternate title and a decent still gallery round out the extras. Animated menus and chapter stops are also included.

    The Final Word:

    While this isn’t likely to rank at the top of either Lee’s filmography or Franco’s it is a fairly well made movie that moves at a good pace and which features some effective moments of horror and great performances from Lee and Rohm. Mediumrare’s DVD offers up the film uncut and in decent shape and with a few choice extras as well.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Horace Cordier's Avatar
      Horace Cordier -
      I really like this one - is there any reason to pick this up over the BU disc, though?
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Not really, nope.