• Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature (AGFA) Blu-ray Review

    Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature (AGFA) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: AGFA
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: Charles Nizet, Joy N. Houck, Leonard Kirtman
    Cast: Bill Greer, Deedy Peters, Lynne Marta, Micky Dolenz, James Ralston, Michael Anthony, Eaerle Edgerton, Judith Resnick, Martin Barolsky, Burt Young
    Year: 1974/1972/1970
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    Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature – Movie Review:

    The good people at The American Genre Film Archive present a triple feature of early seventies American trash/horror epics, available in high definition for the first time anywhere in the universe. Not only that, but you can watch these movies as individual features or via ‘drive-in mode’ which, when enabled, throws in some fun vintage snack bar commercials and movie trailers into the mix to complete the ‘drive-in at home’ experience!

    Here’s what’s included on this release…

    Help Me… I’m Possessed!:

    Dr. Arthur Blackwood (Bill Greer), with some help from a weird hunchbacked assistant (Pierre Agostino), runs a sanitarium in a castle located out in the middle of desert for 'emotionally distressed' people but secretly has a basement dungeon where some of his patients, the victims of his experiments, wind up dead. When the film begins, a young couple is killed near Blackwood's facility by an unseen force. The next morning, Sheriff Taylor (Jim Dean) arrives at Blackwood's place to ask him about these events and while Blackwood denies his patients could have had anything to do with it, he lets slip that he knows it was 'young people' who were killed before being told anything about the victims. Taylor is then introduced to Blackwood's simple, damaged sister Melanie (Lynne Marta) before leaving.

    The next day, creepy chauffeur Ernest (Tony Reese) arrives with Blackwood's wide, Diane (Deedy Peters), who was away somewhere for reasons never really explained. One of the cops patrolling the area saw a picture of her and feels that 'she looks like she could keep a lot of guys happy.' Anyway, it isn't long before Diane realizes that he husband is up to something weird, and no matter how much he continues to reassure her that everything is fine, she can't help but notice that more people are turning up dead and that he's constantly mistreating those around him.

    Directed by Charles Nizet, the man who gave us The Ravager, this picture from 1974 doesn’t really have anything to do at all with possession but it does feature multiple people being killed off by a ‘thing’ that seems to have literally been made out of linguini dipped in red paint, which more than makes up for it. The torture dungeon sequences offer up a bit of gore and feel like they could have come from a kinder, gentler, Bloodsucking Freaks (though this film doesn’t go nearly as far as that one), highlighted by a hot poker eye gouge and a pretty fun scene with a guillotine and a candle.

    None of it really makes too much sense if you start to think about it too much, but if you can turn your brain off it’s a really fun watch. The acting is all over the place but Greer, who co-wrote the film with co-star Peters and who apparently served as a producer on Charles In Charge, is a lot of fun to watch as the sinister doctor. Peters can’t act to save her life but it’s fun to watch her try, while both Jim Dean and Pierre Agostino earn their paychecks as the doctor’s weirdo assistants. Lynne Marta, who would later appear in Joe Kidd and Footloose, is kind of charming as the simple, childish sister character.

    A good bit of cheap gore and those wacky torture dungeon sequences are the highlights here, but bonus points a completely awesome – and totally random – sequence where a scary guy plays an organ for a quick second!

    Night Of The Strangler:

    Directed by Joy N. Houck, the same Joy N. Houck who made Night Of Bloody Horror, 1972’s Night Of The Strangler likely wouldn’t have ever been as well-known as it is (relatively speaking) were it not for the presence of one Mickey Dolenz. Yep, that Mickey Dolenz, the guy from The Monkees. Set in New Orleans, the movie sees Dolenz play a guy named Vance who, along with his brother Dan (James Ralston), is shocked to learn that his younger sister, Denise (Susan McCullough), has been impregnated by a black guy. Dan in particular is not happy about this, he has no love for black people and is in fact a racist asshole.

    Things get even tenser when Denise tells her kin that she’s going to marry the father. Now, Dan and Vance aren’t the best of friends either. See, Dan swiped Carol (Ann Barrett) away from Vance while he was off serving God and country in Vietnam, and he’s not exactly been forgiven for it. So yeah, tensions run high in this family and they run higher still when Dan tells Denise he’ll kill her and her man if she doesn’t go to a clinic for ladies. Denise says to Hell with all of this and takes off to New York City to reunite with her beau but he is murdered by a hitman before that can happen. Back in New Orleans, Father Jesse (Chuck Patterson) has his work cut out for him when he’s asked to try and mend the broken relationship between the two brothers before Dan marries Carol. When they all learn that Denise committed ‘suicide’ it comes out that Vance blames Dan for it and while he’s moved on and is now involved with Ann (Katie Tilley), this won’t end well, not when Carol is killed by a venomous snake!

    Completely devoid of any actual strangling, this one is a sleazy potboiler with a weird cast and a fairly twisted storyline. There’s a lot of southern drama worked in here along with the different murders that take place and it makes for an interesting watch. Sure, seeing Dolenz in a prominent role in a movie like this carries with it a certain novelty factor, that’s definitely part of the appeal, but even if you take that out of the equation if you dig low budget drive-in ‘thrillers’ you’ll probably appreciate this one. The acting is a bit uneven, it’s all over the place really, but the story is well paced and it offer up enough cattiness and double-crossing to keep you intrigued.

    The look of the film isn’t really all that original and some of the cinematography is a bit on the flat side but there’s a gritty, grainy look to the film that works in its favor. Some of the murders are interesting and memorable simply because of the devices used to make them happen. There’s the aforementioned ‘death by snake’ sequence and as you can tell from the caps below a bloody bathtub demise but there are a few other scenes we won’t spoil here that are fairly surprising. It all builds to a finale that’s predictable in terms of where the story takes you but which still manages to pack a bit of a punch simply because it ‘goes there.’

    Carnival Of Blood:

    Last but certainly not least is this 1970 film, a rare non-XXX effort from prolific pornographer Leonard Kirtman (a.k.a. Leon Gucci!), Carnival Of Blood takes place in and around Brooklyn’s own Coney Island amusement area and, as such, is probably more important as a time capsule of what that area was like than it is as a horror movie. But a horror movie it is!

    Two guys, a weirdo named Tom (Earle Edgerton) and disfigured hunchback named Gimpy (Burt Young - yes, the Burt Young from Rocky), run a dart game stand at the aforementioned amusement area. A lot of people who win the stuffed animals that are handed out at the booth as prizes start turning up dead, which results in a guy named Dan (Martin Barolsky) and his gal pal Laura (Judith Resnick) investigating to try and figure out who is behind the killings and why.

    This movie is made up of a lot of footage people wandering around not doing much, which would spell sudden death in most films, but most of these people are wandering around 1970-era Coney Island, it actually winds up being to the movie’s benefit. Additionally, the film features a lot of people in haphazard conversations just sort of complaining about a lot of things. Again, this would spell sudden death in most films, but again, since a lot of these people would seem to be just random locals rather than actual professional actors, it gives the movie a certain screwy charm.

    There are pacing problems galore here and plot-wise, this is nothing to write home about, but the time capsule factor really is a big deal and completely makes this picture worth checking out. You want footage of weird old spook-show rides, bumper cars, the landmarked Wonder Wheel and carny games? It’s all here, and it’s all plentiful. We get a few okay murder set pieces thrown into the mix, a really cool score and a scene where a killer stuffs a teddy bear with human guts. On top of that, Burt Young in his first feature film appearance. So yeah, it’s slow and clunky and periodically kind of dumb, but that doesn’t wind up mattering simply because it’s got such a seriously cool atmosphere thanks to the perfect locations and bizarre casting choices.

    Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature – Blu-ray Review:

    Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature comes to region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition with each of the three films taken from 2K preservations of the only known 35mm prints in existence. There’s a disclaimer on the back of the case that reads…

    “NOTICE! These preservations were made from the only known film elements in existence. Please approach the technical quality of the source materials with empathy.”

    …so you know you’re not going to get pristine presentations here but the AVC encoded 1080p presentations, each framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, look as good as they probably can, given what AGFA had to work with here. Expect print damage, color fading and frame jumps here and there and, in the case of Carnival Of Blood, some weird blue and green blobs on screen throughout (this being a case of ‘Fuji rot’ we’re told in the commentary, and giving it a weird, psychedelic feel). Overall though, these are plenty watchable with considerably better detail than they had in their standard definition DVD versions. Night Of The Strangler looks noticeably better than the other two, but it’s still less than perfect. But hey, given that these are the only elements available, it’s this or nothing and this is way better than nothing!

    Audio chores are handled by 16-bit DTS-HD 1.0 Mono tracks for each film. Subtitles are available for the three features, though they don’t appear on screen during the ‘drive-in mode’ bits, just for the movies themselves. Audio quality is on par with the video quality and at the mercy of existing elements, so expect some hiss, distortion and sibilance here and there.

    As far as extras go, Carnival Of Blood has a partial commentary with Bleeding Skull’s Annie Choi and AGFA/Bleeding Skull’s Joseph A. Ziemba that goes over the elements available for each of the three movies in the film, discussing the ‘Fuji rot’ that effects Carnival Of Blood in a pretty big way. They also cover Leonard Kirtman’s career in as much detail as they really can, the Coney Island locations, the ‘dark rides’ featured in the movie, Burt Young’s appearance in the film, and how this picture compares to other carnival based horror pictures like Freaks.

    Aside from that, there’s the aforementioned drive-in mode option (which is the best way to watch this disc if you’ve got the time for it), menus, chapter selection and some amusing double-sided cover art.

    Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature – The Final Word:

    Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature is a blast, offering up three schlock-tastic features in high definition for the first time and with some decent extras as well. The presentations are obviously only as good as the existing elements will allow for, but fans of obscure, early seventies American horror pictures should find a whole lot to love about this release. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blood-O-Rama Triple Feature Blu-ray screen caps!

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    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      Death by twizzlers in Possessed.