Friday, December 25, 2015

023. Blood Mania and 024. The Bloody Brood

Jump to The Bloody Brood (1959)

023. Blood Mania (1970)
Director: Robert Vincent O'Neill
Writers: Tony Crechales and Toby Sacher from a story by Peter Carpenter
From: Cult Cinema

A doctor being blackmailed for $50,000 finds himself drawn ever deeper into a plot involving murder, sex, and betrayal.

Fantastic title sequence for a total misnomer. Blood Mania is neither particularly bloody nor filled with mania. The opening titles, though, feature animated hands clawing “mania” from the word “blood.” This comes in the midst of a woman wearing only the thinnest of nightgowns running in slow-motion through a black void.

I hope you brought your wine because this movie is promising cheese!

Which it delivers, but not in the expected ways. As I said, not particularly bloody or featuring maniacs. No serial killer, no slasher, no real horror at all. Instead it's a blackmail plot that gets complicated by a murder committed in the name of lust which then gets complicated even further.

Dr. Cooper, played by Peter Carpenter who also produced the movie and provided the story (triple threat!), is being blackmailed for $50,000 because he performed illegal abortions to pay for medical school. The blackmailer arranged the abortions and is now holding them over the doctor's head. Meanwhile, the doctor's primary patient is confined to bed due to a heart condition and being cared for by his daughter Victoria, a nymphomaniac infatuated with the doctor and waiting for her father to die.

These elements come together as you'd expect: the doctor sleeps with her and tells her about the blackmail, she kills her father and promises the doctor the money if he keeps sleeping with her.

In the interim, the doctor's girlfriend offers herself to the blackmailer to get him to forgive the debt, but he rapes her and doesn't stop pursuing the money. If my description seems abrupt, it's not me, that's exactly how abrupt it is in the movie. Also, that girlfriend never shows up again and the blackmailer is absent for the rest of the movie except for one scene.

The girlfriend disappearing—and after such a dramatic moment—is kind of the movie in a nutshell. Huge moments are put on screen to shock the audience and then basically waved away for the next plot point. Even the blackmail plot that starts this all off is forgotten once it stops serving as an inciting incident. I mean, the doctor is given two weeks to get the money, a day or two later tells Victoria who then kills her father, and learns from her lawyer, presumably that day but probably the next, that the will won't be read until two weeks from the next day, and then there'll be the issue of actually settling those finances. At best, the doctor is two days late delivering that payment, if he even can because . . .

There's a sister!

If this sounds like a season of a soap opera, I wouldn't say you were wrong.

So Act 1: Doctor Cooper is being blackmailed. Act II: Victoria seduces the doctor and kills her father. Act III: the will is read and everything is left to the other daughter!

There's more including unrequited lesbian love (although “lesbian” can't be said on screen), various sex scenes, and a Wurlitzer score that only heightens the sense that this is just a sequence of porno set-ups with the porn cut out.

And frankly, the whole thing's pretty fun. Certainly not the content I expected from the title, but just as comically bad as I thought it would be. The movie is unrelentingly silly, the Act III sister has full-on Marilyn Quayle hair, and the look on the father's face when he dies had me rolling. The movie's all right and I recommend it for a laugh.

There is no visible copyright notice on my copy and I can't find any record of the movie on copyright.gov, so I've added an MPEG2 copy of the film to archive.org here.

024. The Bloody Brood (1959)
Director: Julian Roffman
Writers: Anne Howard Bailey, Ben Kerner, Elwood Ullman, and Des Hardman
From: Chilling

Two beatniks decide to murder a messenger boy for the thrill of watching someone die. The boy's brother starts exploring the beatniks' world of drugs and crime in search of his brother's killers.

A tightly-made little piece of beatnik exploitation that I wouldn't have minded being a bit longer. This is a nice companion piece to Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood, also from the same year, just for the competing visions of beatniks they present. Corman's offered a bunch of stoned, navel-gazing hipsters too stupid to notice what was in front of them. This presents a group of would-be mafia goons using the thinnest pretense of philosophy to justify their criminal activity.

The plot isn't much to speak of—the movie, at 69 minutes, very literally is little to speak of. Nico and Freddy watch a man die at a bar and decide they want to see it again. A messenger boy happens to show up just at that moment and they feed him a hamburger laced with ground glass. As he's dying, the victim calls his brother while Nico and Freddy watch. The rest of the movie is the brother trying to solve the crime the police can't.

After that the movie follows the standard mystery formula, possibly made more obvious by Nico being played by Peter Falk. Even though he's the villain, all these little Columbo moments pop up when he's trying to sort out who the brother is and why he's trying to talk to him. Falk was good, even back then. He's easily the best actor in the movie so it's fun to watch him ham it up a bit.

Otherwise, the movie's all right. Like I said, I'd have been fine with it being longer, with there being a little more threat facing the brother as he investigates the murder, more of a sense of Nico closing in on him as he closes in on Nico. As it is, a quick, to-the-point, competently made little flick.

This is in the public domain and an MPEG2 version of it can be downloaded from archive.org.

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