Video Nasty #6: Blood Bath

OR: Reazione a catena / A Bay of Blood / A Mansão da Morte / Antefatto – Ecologia del delitto / Bahía de sangre / Banho de Sangue / Bloodbath / Bloodbath Bay of Death / Blutrausch des Teufels / Carnage / Chain Reaction / Chimidoro no irie / Den blodige bugt / E così imparano a fare i cattivi / Ecology of a Crime International / Im Blutrausch des Satans / Kanli körfez / Kravgi tromou /  La baie sanglante / O Sexo na Sua Forma Mais Violenta / O krikos ton eglimaton /  Sfagi sto akrogiali tis idonis / The Antecedent / The Last House on the Left, Part II / To spiti me ta alysidota eglimata / Twitch of the Death Nerve as it was also know. (Inofficially this film reigns supreme as The Nasty with the most alternative titles. A sure sign of the detachment of the creator from the final product, if ever one were needed.)

[Early Sunday morning.
Sat in living room, staring at the TV, eating cereal.
A housemate’s girlfriend comes in, awake long before he is]
“What are you watching?”
“Oh just some half-crappy horror film. Video nasty, banned in the 80’s, and stuff.”
“What’s it about”
“Well, it’s Italian, women run around half naked and get murdered horribly.”
“How so?”
“A bit, well a bit like this”

Gruesome muder in Blood Bath aka Twitch of the Death Nerve

“Oh right”
“And lots of red. Lots and lots of BRIGHT red.”
“Right”
“This isn’t going to end well.”

Another murder from the film Blood Bath aka Twitch of the Death Nerve

“No, oh dear, that’s unfortunate.”
“Well that would spoil anyone’s day, wouldn’t it.”
“Why is it SO red?”
“Possibly because it’s shot on really cheap film stock. Decays very quickly, the colour balance goes a bit crazy. It is pretty colourful, now you mention it.”
“Is there any sort of story to this, or does it just..?”
“An old man and a woman at the beginning, one kills the other, then he dies, something about a will, something about some plans regarding a property development.”
“Oh, hello.”
[A bedroom scene on screen. From the perspective of the murderous voyeur we see the amorous couple get impaled, both at once, with a single spear.]
“Well, that’s symbolic, I suppose.”

Which neatly surmises a horror film which indeed revolves around a land dispute. The more inane the conflict, the more inventive the gore we demand.

In a film offensive enough to spook arch Dracula-himself, Sir Christopher Lee, from the premiere obviously warrants some note, but a sneaking suspicious creeps that maybe he snuck out not for reasons of common decency, but rather out of sheer boredom. The cut, thrust, slash and jab of the film is an incessant butchery of barely established characters for even weaker reasons. The critic might scoff that this is the very core of any ten-penny horror film, but a synopsis does not a film make, and there is scant meat on these very gory bones.

To even a passing viewer, such as the housemate’s other half, the gore is absurd to a point beyond the horrific. It doesn’t even stretch to a level of comedy value, with the result effect being much a kin to seeing someone drop a slice of buttered toast on the floor: ‘Oh dear, what a mess, nevermind…’

Blood Bath, Cephalopods, general ickyness

A single scene of a gangrened corpse being revealed beneath a similarly green tinged octopus was enough to momentarily put me off the Rice Crispies®, but that was more personal shudder than anything else. Not, should it be clear, that I have anything against cephalopods: some of my best friends are cephalopods. It’s just a bit too ick, in a way the rest of the film just isn’t, and more’s the shame for that.

A demented pull-back-and-reveal ending straight out of left-field is buoyed by an equally demented and deliriously upbeat closing number featuring the budget horror film staple I’m growing to love: the demented bongo solo. A cheery conclusion to a dreary dredge of a film. Save yourself some time and take greater excitement and trepidation out of the film’s quite superb original UK VHS cover, than you would in the sum total of the film.

 [The above cover is by way of the superb Video Cultures project, from Birmingham City University. They don’t claim any copyright, they just put it out there. Well done them.]

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5 thoughts on “Video Nasty #6: Blood Bath

  1. Chris says:

    I just stumbled upon your website whilst looking for a photograph of the gold statue of Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang (before it was painted bronze after criticism from the Chinese) and I have to say that the things you have been up to this year are uncannily similar to the things I’ve been doing this year. Everything on your blog is something I can relate to! I not olny watched Lars von Trier’s Antichrist but also went through a video nasty phase in which I watched Bay of Blood, Anthropophagus and loads of that other trash that I can’t be bothered to list (’cause let’s face it, most video nasties are pretty forgettable). Saw Four Lions too and was giddy for weeks afterwards, I also watched The Lives of Others the other week. Yesterday I read Guy Delisle’s Pyonyang, I watched State of Mind the other day for the first time and rewatched the Vice guide to N Korea episode on the mass games following that. As a big North Korea watcher who has watched almost every little feature or news clip on North Korean human rights, and seeing as your field is specifically film I was wondering if you had seen the documentary films Kimjongilia or Yodok Stories – two films I have been unable to get a hold of, and if you had any ideas of how I could get hold of them? I’d also like to see the feature length version of The Red Chapel, having seen the shorter BBC cut entitled Kim Jong-il’s Comedy Club which you talk about. If you want a further treat I recommend you check out the North Korean film Pulgasari. It’s exexutively produced by the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il himself and is directed by Shin Sang-ok (the South Korean filmmaker that Kim Jong-il kidnapped in an attempt to revamp North Korean cinema). Pulgasari is basically North Korea’s answer to the Godzilla films of Japan – except it is naffer and filled with socialist rhetoric and revolutionary themes (interestingly, the guy in the Pulgasari suit is the same Japanese actors that plays Godzilla!). I believe that it’s one of the few films made in North Korea that has been seen outside because the Japanese begged them to release it (they obviously wanted to snigger at it).
    I also recommend Crossing The Line and Seoul Train if you want other good N Korea docs.
    All the best, let me know if you have any sources that can get their hands on DVDs, torrents or downloads of Kimjongilia, Yodok Stories or The Red Chapel.
    CHRIS

    • burntretina says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for getting in touch, good to hear that the blog is finding a receptive readership!

      By their very nature documentaries can be a real arse to get hold of, as they so often get buried at the back of the schedules and then drop completely off the map, rarely with a DVD release to follow. I’m lucky that State of Mind and Crossing the Line (which I caught a while back) are both on DVD and that my local library(!) had them in stock. Crossing is great portait, and it’s a shame that the film’s that guy has been in can’t be found outside DPRK, as they look absolutely bonkers.

      I haven’t seen Pulgasari, but I’ll have to check it out as you can just find the whole thing on Google videos. I have seen one DPRK film, I forget the title, but it was a dreary costume drama. It was for a course on East Asian cinema, and my tutor had acquired a VHS from the North Korean embassy, on the grounds that she wanted to teach a ‘balanced’ view on Korean cinema. The subtitles were insane, written in the tone of Happy Days cast (‘gee, gosh, darn’) and the final two reels of the film had Spanish subtitles. The final joke were the credits, which had been attributed to ‘The People of Korea’. Take a bow, ALL OF KOREA.

      I know The Red Chapel hasn’t finished touring the festivals yet (the BBC cut a pretty quick deal!) though I’m not sure if the extra half hour will improve the film much. Most docs are made at around 1.5hs and almost always get cut down to 1h for tv broadcast, and I don’t know if the extra half hour of nonessential fluff would help the film much. There might be a DVD release down the line, so I guess that’s worth looking out for.

      I’ve seen that you can buy a download for Kimjongilia online, but £15 seems a bit dear for taking a documentary sight unseen, and not having a DVD to pass around afterwards. Yodok Stories and Seoul Train are also on the to-do list, but again, not sure where to find them. Will let you know if I have any joy finding the two film’s you’re looking for.

      Not that they’re the same thing, but a doc that might interest you is S21 The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003). Absolutely harrowing doc that revisits the concentration prisons with guards and detainees, long after the human rights atrocities ended. All on google videos, well worth your time.

  2. Jasper Sharp says:

    Think you’re being a little harsh on the film Peter. This was one of the better of the video nasties, and there is a certain style to it, even if it is a style firmly rooted in early 70s Italian genre cinema – you wait till you get to ‘C’ and all the endless Umberto Lenzi Cannibal movies and you’ll appreciate this a lot more. Two things worth remembering about this film. First, while it might not be his finest work, Mario Bava is just a wonderful director with a unique visual sense which was sadly squandered on the type of projects he was assigned. This is a case in point – the film is virtually plotless, and characterless, as you note, but I’d say ironically so. There’s a definite air of knowing humour about this film that the likes of Anthropophagus don’t have. Secondly, this was one of the real first stalk and slash films. Bava’s much earlier Blood and Black Lace is seen as a seminal work in the Italian giallo genre, but that at least had a plot. Here the minimalist stringing together of murders and lakeside setting are the clear inspiration for the Friday 13th films, only ten years early. I personally like Blood Bath a lot, although I’ve not seen it for some time, but I certainly remember it sticking out like ray of sunshine when I was wading through the video nasties list back in the 1980s. You wait till you get to Unhinged!

    • burntretina says:

      You’re right, I’m being perhaps a bit more scathing than the film deserves. I came to it on the back of Fulci’s The Beyond, and it doesn’t stand too favourable in comparison to that. That said the films are a budget and a half apart from each other, and it’s only by quirk of British censorship law, as well as my indiscriminate alphabetised approach to the list which plonks them right next to each other. Maybe once I’ve waded through the uneven lumps on the Nasty road ahead I’ll view it more favourably, but that’s just part of this unadvisable approach. Once I’m able to look back with a semblance of perspective my view will no doubt change, and a bit more Bava homework on my part is needed. First impressions do however remain, and Blood Bath really didn’t grab me by the throat!

      Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast is next, and it might back onto Andy Milligan’s Blood Rites well, in terms of early American indie horror films made for absolutely nothing. Will see how I get on with them, maybe Blood Bath will bounce in relative esteem pretty quickly!

      As a man with a fondness for the Nasty, you (or anyone else so inclined) should check out The Art of the Nasty. It’s a glossy hardback packed full of box art for Video Nasties, films that weren’t but should have been Video Nasties, and loads of 80’s schlock films besides! It’s a coffee table book of the first kind, but no worse for that. And not too expensive either.

  3. Jasper Sharp says:

    You’ll have fun with Blood Feast I reckon. Blood Rites I never saw – then you’ve got Bloody Moon to deal with not long after that, which will throw this film into a completely different relief!
    Generally Bava was a far better director than Fulci, although both had a very distinctive style, but you’re right, the alphabetical approach meant you witnessed some of the worst of Bava just after the best of Fulci.
    I know the Art of the Nasty book. It’s a beautiful work, from my same publisher of Behind the Pink Curtain, FAB Press.
    Looking forward to your other nasty updates, and slightly surprised you found Beast in Heat less offensive than SS Experiment Camp. I thought this was a generally horrible film, so filthy I had to hose myself down afterward.

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