Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Blood Bath (1966)

The new Arrow release of Blood Bath is not so much a release of a film, as an entire set devoted to how Roger Corman, Frances Ford Coppola, Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman et al managed to take an obscure, unreleased Yugoslavian film and create another three films from it.  It's quite an undertaking, and included on this blu-ray set is a truly excellent feature wherein Tim Lucas takes us through all the different versions, explaining what happened, when and how and why.

I have to admit that Blood Bath is not a film I had previously seen, nor was particularly aware of, and as a black and white 1966 horror, which is fairly incomprehensible in places (and which has nothing whatsoever to do with some of the illustrative poster and ad art), it's a hard watch. William Campbell plays an artist, who is also a vampire, who is famed for his images of dead girls. In fact he paints them and then kills them, or vice versa, dipping them in wax in his studio. He is tormented by the ghost of a dead woman, and his undoing comes when this spirit summons his dead and waxed women to come alive at the end and kill him!

What is fascinating about all this, is how footage from a film called Operation: Titian, made around 1963, was cannibalised into three other films called: Blood Bath, Portrait in Terror and Track of the Vampire. I won't go into the detail here, but there's a general overview of what happened on the Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Bath.

It's interesting to see Sid Haig, years away from starring as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, and Patrick Magee, better known from films like Tales from the Crypt and Asylum, not to mention The Monster Club, making appearances here, and both do well with the material. William Campbell also does a good job, as do the various directors, matching shots and details from the earlier versions into something which sort-of hangs together.

As always, the presentation by Arrow is excellent. All four films are included in the package, so I suppose you could try and make your own versions if you so wished, as well as various documentaries and commentaries.

It's certainly a release for film historians and those interested in the career of Roger Corman, and also as an object lesson perhaps in how film-making used to be done.

• Limited Edition collection of the complete Blood Bath
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of four versions of the film: Operation Titian, Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire
• Brand new 2K restorations of Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire from original film materials
• Brand new reconstruction of Operation Titian using original film materials and standard definition inserts • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all four versions
The Trouble with Titian Revisited – a brand new visual essay in which Tim Lucas returns to (and updates) his three-part Video Watchdog feature to examine the convoluted production history of Blood Bath and its multiple versions
Bathing in Blood with Sid Haig – a new interview with the actor, recorded exclusively for this release
• Archive interview with producer-director Jack Hill
• Stills gallery
• Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artworks
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
• Limited edition booklet containing new writing on the film and its cast by Anthony Nield, Vic Pratt, Cullen Gallagher and Peter Beckman
Poster for Blood Bath. The film does not include blondes being
chained up, nor dipping girls in boiling blood. There are no skeletons, and no torture
chamber, and no rack on which a girl is strapped. There is no shrieking of mutilated victims,
and no-one is caged in a black pit of horror. There is however
a net which is used to dip a dead brunette in wax ...

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