Combustible Celluloid
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With: William Campbell, Marissa Mathes, Sandra Knight, Lori Saunders, Karl Schanzer, Biff Elliot, Sid Haig, Jonathan Haze, Fred Thompson, David Ackles, Thomas Karnes, Frank Church, David Miller, Jess Nichols, Lowe Stephens
Written by: Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman
Directed by: Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 62
Date: 03/02/1966

Blood Bath (1966)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Art Attack

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Blood Bath is one of the most cockeyed creations ever to emerge from the Roger Corman camp. The nearest I can figure, Corman hired Jack Hill to make the movie. Then Hill was fired and replaced by Stephanie Rothman; she was charged to shoot new footage, but also to incorporate footage from a Yugoslavian vampire movie. Apparently footage was also taken from a movie called Portrait in Terror (which may be the same Yugoslavian movie? I'm not sure.) The theatrical cut of Blood Bath runs just about 62 minutes; to make matters more confusing, someone cut in about 10 more minutes of outtakes and other stuff to pad the TV version.

The theatrical cut has been released on DVD via MGM's new MOD service, and the quality is fine. I wouldn't bother with the longer TV cut after this, as the theatrical cut actually has some interesting things in it.

William Campbell stars as a painter named Sordi. He works in a bell tower and lures beautiful women to his studio, kills them, covers them in wax, and paints their pictures. He also believes he is the reincarnation of his ancestor, and that the beautiful Dorean (Lori Saunders, credited as "Linda") is also a reincarnation. He may also be a vampire, for some reason. He kills Dorean's friend Daisy (Playboy playmate Marissa Mathes), and Daisy's sister Donna (Sandra Knight). A group of comical artists come to the rescue. (One of them is played by Hill regular Sid Haig.) In the end, several wax-covered victims come to life and turn on their creator!

Regardless of this giant mess, Blood Bath has some lovely, atmospheric moments in it that reminded me of some other movies of the era, notably Francis Ford Coppola's Dementia 13 (1963) and Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962). And, of course, the parody of the beatnik art scene recalls Corman's own classic black comedy A Bucket of Blood (1959). There are nighttime chases through dark alleyways flanked with columns, creepy wordless sequences on a merry-go-round, and moody interiors of the bell tower.

Admittedly, some of the acting is atrocious, and some of the transitions are slightly short of bizarre, but I think the movie gets at least a "B-" for effort. Both Hill and Rothman apparently disowned this later on, but horror fans may find something to cherish.

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