Friday, October 30, 2020

chilly con carnies.


Remembering when this beauty came out on DVD from the Arrow films a few years back and my vain attempts to blag a copy for review purposes were all for nowt.

As was my attempt to get some new (any) readers.

Anyway, noticed that this review had been looked at a grand total of about 8 times in 5 years so thought I'd rejig and repost it seeing as it appears no-one is actually reading the whole 31 days of horror thing.


Malatesta's Carnival of Blood (1973).
Dir: Christopher Speeth
Cast: Herve Villechaize, Bill Preston, Daniel Dietrich, William Preston, Lenny Baker, Paul Hostetler, Betsy Henn, Jerome Dempsey, Chris Thomas, Karen Salmansohn and Janine Carazo.

You'll Shriek With Horror! ... As You Watch His Victims Take a Diabolical Roller-Coaster Ride to Bloody Death! - Brexit in a nutshell.

Somewhere and sometime in the evilly dressed early seventies, teen bombsite - sorry bombshell - Vena Norris (Carazo, looking like a chubby Suzi Quatro - which isn't necessarily a bad thing - in her only film role) is busy having her fortune told by the cross-dressing Jewish gypsy Sonia (1977 Tony Award winner Baker) at his stall in the famous Malatesta Carnival (of blood obviously)  whilst her parents, Frank (An Innocent Love's Hostetler, looking for all the world like an even more down at heel - but pre-death obviously - Tobe Hooper) and Noreen (Henn), are being shown around the site by the Mr Barry Blood (teevee stalwart and ex partner of Makepeace, Dempsey), sideshow owner and part-time recluse cum Malatesta’s enigmatic business manager.

"You're my wife now!"

It appears that the Norris family are opening a shooting gallery at the carnival and Vena is naughtily wasting time chatting to unconvincing transvestites rather than doing what she's been asked to, which is be set up the stall but when she finally decides to get to work wouldn't you know it she gets distracted again, this time by the guy who runs the tunnel of love, a studly young buck named Kit (writer of the fantastic P. Diddy Presents the Bad Boys of Comedy Thomas) who slinks over to 'get to know' our pretty heroine.

Easy tiger.

His smooth moves are rudely interrupted tho' when the Ferris Wheel running Davis clan, complete with harsh faced obnoxious daughter 'Toby' (Salmansohn, latter day Hollywood story consultant and best selling self-help book author) turn up to say hello.

In between Toby's ear piercing whining regarding rubber chickens that is.

Hoping to placate Toby and get rid of mom and dad for a few minutes Kit offers them a free ride on the tunnel of love.

A ride from which none of them return.

In fact all Kit finds are Pa Davis’ shattered and blood stained spectacles.

A lovely firm tummy and milky white thighs you could ski down...and that's just the fella.

That night in the Norris family trailer, Ma and Pa are busy entertaining Mr Blood, whom we discover, was once told by 'doctors' that due to his unusual metabolism he had less than six months to live but thanks to a special diet he's managed not only to defy the Doc's expectations but learn how to look good in a cape.

By good I mean really fucking sinister obviously.

Even later - it's all go isn't it? - Kit and Vena meet up near 'The Ghouls Eye' (which I'm assuming is a ride and not a reference to the carnival cleaners unfortunate ocular problem) for a chat and stuff whilst elsewhere in the deserted carnival two checked shirt wearing drunk types (let's call them Pete and Pete) are stumbling around the empty stalls looking for a ride on the roller-coaster.

Each to their own I guess.

Luckily the ride just happens to be open and Pete jumps at the chance for a shot, unfortunately half way round he's decapitated by some hidden cheese wire  causing the other Pete to start screaming like a baby.

Annoyed at all the noise Mr Blood orders the aforementioned bog eyed cleaner, Sticker (Oldie Olson from Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Preston) to stab him to death with his pointy rubbish collecting stick before carrying the body off to a secret blood siphoning facility hidden beneath the carnival where a number of ashen faced freaks gorge themselves on Pete's still warm flesh.

"Eye son!"

It's round about this point that Vena and Kit begin to suspect that there may be something slightly odd happening at the carnival.

Cue a heady mix of surreal dream sequences, top quality chases and extended scenes of a possibly bra-less Vena jogging thru' a park in slow motion.

Oh yes and a gun obsessed dwarf named Bobo (the late, great Villechaize) spouting all manner of sinister bollocks whilst the grey faced flesh eaters sit about enjoying grainy copies of the best of Universals silent back catalogue.

No, really.

John Carpenter, up the casino, New York, 1997.....YESCH!!

However just when you think you got your head round the whole reality/fantasy/drug induced dream stuff you realise that Vena has indeed been out running all night and yes, she actually isn't wearing a bra but don't worry because just as the movies already stretched view of realism looks like it's going to snap like so much cheap knicker elastic the grey faced flesh eating tramps suddenly attack the Norris' trailer leaving big panted dad to fight them off with a spud gun.

Two puppies fighting in a sack yesterday.

Returning to the carnival and oblivious to all that's going on around her Vena is fairly surprised to find poor Kit impaled on a large  paper mache clown causing her to scream apathetically and run off into the carnival catacombs with Sticker in wobbly pursuit.

Meanwhile back at the trailer, Pa Norris has not only vowed revenge on somebody but also decided that the best means of escape would be to blow up the trailer and run away in the confusion.

His wife however isn't convinced.

Cue offscreen explosion and a prolonged chase around the various stalls as more and more of the strange underground cannibal spew forth into the park....


Will the Norris family survive the oncoming cannibal apocalypse?

What hideous plans do Blood and Malatesta have for the perky Vena?

And where will her boyfriend Johnny stay when he arrives the next morning now that the Norris' camper van has burnt down?

Fantastically plotted, linear and expensive are just a few of the words you wouldn't use to describe Christopher Speeth's little seen horror oddity, lost in his spare room for decades and only recently let loose on an unsuspecting public decades later.

But then that might not be a bad thing when you realise that you'll end up describing it as one of the surrealist and most terrifying movies of all time.

And that's just Bill Preston.

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood is quite possibly one of (if not the) greatest horror movies to come out of the 70's, playing out like a big screen version of the worst acid trip you've ever experienced, it's dream logic and total lack of regard for the rules of cinema (and good taste) will leave you boggle eyed and shaking like a baby on a window ledge with it's heady mix of cannibals, vampires, inflatable sets and little people but the icing on an already sickly sweet cake are the performances from the leads.

Taking the concept of 'non-acting' to new heights, everyone on screen appears to be playing to an unseen audience, almost unaware of the other actors around them.

Genius Mr Speeth, true genius.

Groundbreaking and unique, this is the kind of film this blog lives for.

And so should you.

Beg, borrow, steal or even sell your entire dvd collection to pay* for a copy because you need this.


And I need a cold shower.


*Not brand new obviously just go to the big Cash Converters in Renfield Street, they have it in for 2 quid.

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