THE LEGEND OF BLOOD CASTLE (1974) **
Countess Elizabeth Bathory hates growing old. One day, some blood from one of her virgin handmaidens gets on her hand and the spot instantly looks youthful. Right then and there, she decides to bathe in virgin blood in order to keep up her looks. To provide the blood she needs, the Countess’s husband fakes his own death and poses as a “vampire” and kills young women. Predictably, he falls in love with one of the gals, which causes tension between him and the missus.
I remember renting The Legend of Blood Castle from my local video store (the box said it was “In the Tradition of Dracula”) back in the day. My thoughts on the flick still haven’t changed much. The DVD is a bit different from the old video version though as it reinstates a long courtroom scene at the end of the film that (although it echoes a scene earlier in the flick) is ultimately superfluous. To me, the movie was already slow-moving enough and didn’t need this useless scene dragging it down further.
Languid pacing aside, the flick has a solid enough premise. It’s not altogether unwatchable, yet it’s slow and talky and it takes its sweet as time getting going. There’s still some cool shit here and there (the highlight comes when the townspeople cut the head off of a suspected vampire and burn it so nothing but the skull is left) but not enough though to make it worthwhile.
AKA: Blood Castle. AKA: Blood Ceremony. AKA: Countess Dracula. AKA: The Bloody Countess. AKA: The Female Butcher.
NAKED AND VIOLENT (1970) **
OK, this isn’t really a “horror” movie per se, but an Italian Mondo movie. Since it was directed by Sergio (Torso) Martino, it deserves to be featured here as part of The 31 Days of Horror-Ween. Besides, it features some pretty horrifying shit in it to at least qualify as a horror movie.
Martino’s Naked and Violent is basically about how us Americans are all hedonistic and barbaric and stuff. Like most Mondo movies, we see various vignettes of “everyday life” that are juxtaposed for ironic effect. Like the scenes of football players tackling each other that are followed up by men in a gay porno theater. Or when they cut from rednecks shooting bunnies with rifles to photographers shooting Playboy bunnies with cameras.
There’s a lot of other mildly interesting and/or amusing stuff here. We see bums in the Bowery, topless women at Altamont (“95% of those in attendance have smoked weed, tried LSD… or other stuff!”), a morphine addict rambling on and on (“Donald Duck pisses on Mickey Mouse’s head!”), and a re-tracing of JFK’s final moments through Dallas. A lot of the movie is obviously faked (like the part when a hippie cuts off his fingers so he doesn’t have to go to Vietnam), but that kinda adds to the fun.
Unfortunately, the fun dries up rather quickly after the first half hour or so. Then, little by little the film loses its way and becomes overly preachy. At about the halfway mark, Naked and Violent starts becoming full-blown anti-American propaganda; especially when it comes to exploiting the country’s race relations. The fact that most of the racial violence is obviously faked (like the lynching scene) in order to prove a point is kinda infuriating. And the scene of “retarded children” being exploited at the end is pretty unconscionable.
When all is said and done, it doesn’t add up to a whole lot. Although there are plenty of funny vignettes (like the naked restaurant), overall the flick just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. As far as Mondo movies go, Naked and Violent just isn’t in the same league as Mondo Cane or Goodbye Uncle Tom. (And like most Mondo movies, it features a really awful ballad in the tradition of “More” called “Look Away”.)
The hateful narrator gets the best line of the movie at the very end when he tells the Statue of Liberty, “Put out your light you tired old gal!”
Next week we’ll feature a double shot of All-American horror with Psychos in Love and Grim Prairie Tales.
IT CAME FROM THE THRIFT STORE: EURO HORROR DOUBLE FEATURE
THE LEGEND OF BLOOD CASTLE (1974) **
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