• Bloodlust (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: November 13th, 2018.
    Director: Marijan Vajda
    Cast: Werner Pochath, Ellen Umlauf, Birgit Zamulo, Gerhard Ruhnke
    Year: 1977
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    Bloodlust – Movie Review:

    Marijan Vajda’s 1977 art-horror picture (alternatively known as Bloodlust: The Vampire Of Nuremberg, Mosquito The Rapist or, as the title card on the elements used for this Blu-ray reads, simply Bloodlust) opens with a scene where a deaf-mute man (Werner Pocath of Argento’s Cat o’ Nine Tails and Margheriti’s Vengeance) is beaten, abused and berated. A kindly woman (Ellen Umlauf) and her strange daughter (Birgit Zamulo, who showed up in Joe Sarno’s Bibi as well as the 1976 Patricia Rhomberg film Sensational Janine) interfere as the man flashes back to his childhood. Here we witness how he was frequently beaten by his drunken father and how his father raped his younger sister right in front of him, smashing her doll when he’s finished. This is shown in surprisingly graphic detail.

    From there, we follow the man around a bit. He goes to work as an accountant where he’s the target of many of his coworkers’ jokes. He visits a prostitute who belittles him when he just wants to lay with her and not have intercourse. We see the inside of his apartment, a cross on the wall, creepy dolls littering the shelves. We see how strange his obsession with ketchup and red ink is, how he tends to smear it on his hands and face when no one is looking. As his obsession with the young woman next door grows, he starts to withdraw even more, eventually breaking into a funeral home and mutilating the corpse of a recently deceased young woman. Once he gets away with this the first time it starts to become a more frequent occurrence and eventually he writes ‘Mosquito’ on the wall in blood, giving the cops and the local press a name to address him by. Once he buys a two-printed glass straw, he starts to drink the blood of his victims…

    Based on the true story of Kuno Hofmann, the "Vampire of Nuremberg,” who was arrested in 1972 for crimes similar to those depicted in the movie, Bloodlust omits the Satanism aspect of the real case and replaces that with a backstory painting our unnamed central character as a victim of his environment. The movie doesn’t attempt to excuse his actions at all, but it certainly posits the fact that he is the way he is because of the way he was treated by his father and what he witnessed as his hand, as well as the way he’s treated by most of those around him in society. A shrink could probably have a field day with all of this but if nothing else, it makes for an interesting premise for a horror movie and Vajda exploits the content nicely: we get gouged eyeballs, slit throats, cadaver mutilation, a murder or two and some reasonably graphic and unusually voyeuristic lesbian sex in our ninety-one-minute film.

    The performances are pretty solid here. Pocath has the right look to play a young man ostracized by society. He has a sadness to his facial features that the film accentuates rather well, and for this reason he’s often sadder than he is frightening, even if the actions we see him take in the picture are completely reprehensible. Ellen Umlauf is plenty decent in her part as well, while pretty Birgit Zamulo brings an effective childlike naivety to her part that adds a strange element of fantasy and dark fairy tale style to the proceedings.

    The pacing of the picture is pretty deliberate and you can’t help but wish, towards the end, that there wasn’t a bit more of a character arc to follow, but Bloodlust works pretty well for the most part. Aside from the sex and violence quotient, the film has an effective score from David Llewellyn, who also scored Mädchen, Mädchen, and some seriously impressive camerawork. Much of the film is shot like a painting, very nicely framed with an almost elegant look to it. If the movie is a little on the slow side and a little repetitive in spots, the look of the picture makes up for that, it’s quite striking at times. All of this makes this strangely artsy precursor to the far more shocking Nekromantik one worth seeking out for fans of sleazy, artsy Eurocult pictures.

    Bloodlust – Blu-ray Review:

    Mondo Macabo brings this one to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and taken from a ‘brand new 2k transfer from film negative.’ There are a few shots here and there that look like they could have been shot with a filter over the lens, resulting in a checkered pattern showing up in spots, kind of like what we saw in the transfer for Film Movement’s release of The Great Silence. This is likely inherent in the negative, not an issue with the transfer flaw, but it’s worth noting. Otherwise, no complains here. Colors look excellent and we get nice black levels too. There’s a lot of detail here, not only in closeup shots but in medium and long-distance shots as well. Skin tones look perfect, and there’s a nice amount of visible natural film grain here. Some tiny specks show up now and then but there’s no serious print damage to note, certainly nothing distracting. This is a pretty massive upgrade over what we’ve seen in the past (that being a mediocre German DVD release from the early 2000s and/or grey market/bootleg releases of varying, but mostly horrible, quality).

    Audio options are provided in English or German language options in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles (not dubtitles) provided in English only. Despite the fact that this is lossy, never ideal for a Blu-ray release, the audio quality is fine. The film plays much better in German than in English as the dubbing is pretty ropey here, but both mixes provide clean, clear dialogue and properly balanced levels. The score also sounds quite good.

    Outside of a British theatrical trailer for the feature and the Mondo Macabro promo reel, we get two interviews. The first one is with assistant director Marijan David Vajd that runs eleven-minutes. Marijan, who just so happens to be the son of the director, talks about his experiences on set as well as his thoughts on the movie and its content in addition to providing some insight into the details of his father’s career in the film industry. He also provides some backstory to the film and offers some history on the censorship issues that it ran into. As second interview gets actress Birgit Zamulo in front of the camera for twenty-minutes to share some stories about how she got into acting, work she did on stage, getting into the film business, her thoughts on the film and some of the people that she worked with on it and, yes, what was involved in creating her character’s scene that takes place on the roof of the apartment complex. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Bloodlust – The Final Word:

    Bloodlust is a strange film to be sure, but not without some strong merits. Aside from the sex and gore, which are pretty strong, we get some solid acting and some genuinely beautiful camerawork. Throw in a great score and some memorable set pieces and the film turns out to be quite worthwhile. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release is, aside from the lossy audio, a very strong presentation and the extras add some welcome insight into the film’s history. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Bloodlust Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Killer Meteor's Avatar
      Killer Meteor -
      Why has someone stuck a 1988 copyright on a 1977 film?
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      The copyright date would be the date of release under that particular title, to avoid accidentally putting it into the public domain, like what happened with Night of the Living Dead.