Friday, January 3, 2020


Happy 2020 all - well as a happy as a new year can be when the President of the United States is threatening war in the Middle East and Doctor Who is hemorrhaging fans quicker than a really quick thing.

Doctor Who yesterday....or is that tomorrow?

At least the Mark Gatiss/Steven Moffatt re-imagining of Dracula (you know the one with the cleaning product in it) has been pretty good so far.

And not just because of Molly Wells frankly fantastic turn as Agatha Van Helsing.

So in tribute let's start 2020 as we mean to go on, with a wee bit of the vampirism and a whole lot of the lesbianism.

Oh yeah and that woman out of The Champions naked save for a scuba mask.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you.....

The Blood Spattered Bride (AKA The Bloody Bride. 1972).
Dir: Vicente Aranda.
Cast: Simón Andreu, Maribel Martín, Alexandra Bastedo, Dean Selmier, Rosa Rodriguez, Montserrat Julio and Angel Lombarte.

"They'll come back. They cannot die!"

The lovely librarian-like Susan (La cera virgen star Martin) and her unnamed (onscreen) husband - who for the duration of this review we will call Bob (Andreu from Amando de Ossorio's classic Night of the Sorcerers which I really should review at some point) are speeding thru' the Spanish countryside en route to the honeymoon hotel after just getting married where they'll spend a few days holed up for some rumpy pumpy before heading to Bob’s family estate, a massive castle which he's not visited for many a year.

Which is always the way in these films.
Arriving at the hotel Bob tells Susan to head straight up to the room while he 'puts the car in the garage' - which isn't a euphemism I'm afraid - and Susan, being a wee bit wet, nods her head and does as she's told.

Ah it was a more innocent time.

And by innocent I mean slightly sexist obviously.

Hanging her clothes up in the wardrobe she's surprised when a man with a stocking on his head jumps out and after smothering her with her veil, tears off her clothes and begins to ravish her.

Which I must admit was fairly unexpected.

Suddenly Bob enters the room to Susan sitting on the bed in an undamaged dress, looking as though she's just farted and followed thru'.

“I don’t want to stay here, I don’t like this hotel.” She says.

Phew, it was all in her head.

As opposed to all in the wardrobe obviously.


Anyway 10 minutes in and we've had the first breast reveal - to prove this is an artsy vampire film obviously - so with that out of the way we can get on with the pesky plot as Bob packs up and takes Susan to his castle where she meets his - again nameless - servants/housekeepers (Lombarte from The Killer with a Thousand Eyes, and Horror Rises from the Tomb's Julio) as well as their 12-year-old daughter Carol (Rodriguez), who all take to her straight away.

Possibly because they were worried that being a castle owning rich bloke he was more interested in deflowering Carol than meeting someone his own age.

Just me then?

Fair enough.

This is probably really symbolic of something or other but I'm too thick to know. Sorry.

Retiring to the bedroom that evening Bob is surprised to find that Susan wants him to undress her (lazy cow) but when he happily obliges by tearing at her flimsy lace gown with his sweaty sausage fingers (tho' leaving her massive granny pants intact) she lies there in shock as visions of the  masturbatory hallucinatory fantasy she had in the hotel fill her mind.

Guilty pleasures or an ominous sense of things to come?

Who can say cos by this point Susan's slight mentalism is showing in other ways as she begins to see a beautiful, blonde girl in a lavender dress roaming the estate.

And she's sure she's seen this woman before.


Possibly the most erotically librarian based outfit I have seen for quite some time. That is all.

Bored and wandering the house to look for things to dust (as women do) Susan soon notices that every one of the family portraits adorning the walls of the castle are of men and inquisitively asks Carol the reason why.

Because it's easier to ask a small child about your husbands family history than your actual hubbie obviously.

As it turns out it's quite an interesting story - well more interesting than the main plot anyway - you see all the portraits of the ladies were stashed in the cellar by order of her husband’s granddad after he caught his wife having sex with the postman.

Which is fair enough I guess.

One portrait in particular intrigues Susan tho and that's the one of a blonde woman in a lavender dress, caressing an ornate dagger in one hand whilst wearing four massive inverted rings on the other.

It'd destroy you just thinking about a hand job.

The strangest thing about the painting tho' is the fact that the face has been cut out just like one of those novelty 'Kiss Me Quick' stand-ups you used to get at the seaside.

This it transpires is Bob's totally bonkers great aunt Mircalla Karstein who a century back, killed her husband on their wedding night as he attempted to do something very naughty to her.

Tho' they don't tell us what.

Anyway it was said that Mircalla was discovered the next morning sprawled across the bed with her nightie up around her neck next to her husband’s mutilated corpse in a deathly trance-like state but as it was a Sunday and the local doctor was out fishing the family decided to have bury her next to her hubbie to save time and any uncomfortable chat when she awoke.

And on that note Bob takes Susan to the tomb where she's buried in order to crack open the coffin and show her the bones.

What a romantic devil.

"Laugh now!"

And with that Susan's dreams about the mysterious blonde become much more vivid.

Like you're surprised?

From imagining Mircalla giving her the dagger from the painting to dreaming about touching Mircalla's breasts (well it is European), Susan becomes more and more distraught as the nightmarish visions continue and the situation isn't helped when she discovers the dagger under her pillow one morning.

As is the way everyone is quick to blame Carol who unfortunately doesn't get spanked with a slipper, instead she's tutted at and sent to her room whilst Bob goes off to bury the blade in the garden.

It's like a particularly drugged up episode of Neighbours if I'm honest.

But the dreams don't stop and the next night Susan imagines Mircalla leading her to the grandfather clock in the hall, opening it to reveal the dagger before taking Susan back to the bedroom  where the pair stab Bob to death with it before removing his heart.

And his pants.

"Put it in me!"

In order to prove that the dreams are nothing but the result of a fragile female imagination Bob takes Susan to the clock to prove it but is fairly surprised to see that the dagger is in fact inside and with this he storms of to see the family doctor (Selmier) for some advice.

After listening to Bob whiter on for hours the doctor decides that Susan is suffering from a malaise often found in recently deflowered women and prescribes bubble baths and snuggles before warning Bob that if the treatment doesn't work they will have to lock her up.

That's the 70s for you.

As Susan gets more and more grumpy, rejecting not only her husbands advances but also his offers of warm, milky tea leaving Bob no alternative but to head off to the local secluded beach for a tearful wank and a ham sandwich.

Oh and to rebury the dagger obviously.

And it's there that things begin to get really odd.

Or ludicrous, take your pick.

You see, as Bob finishes burying the blade (ooeerr) he notices not only the top of a snorkel protruding from the sand a few feet away from him but also a human hand.

Quickly heading over he starts to frantically dig away around the snorkel soon uncovering a buxom blonde (Bastedo, from The Champions), totally naked save for the diving mask and a set of huge poundshop rings which she wears palm side in on her left hand.

Thanking Bob for digging her up she introduces herself as Carmilla (only one name a bit like Shakira or Billie) and explains that she'd fallen asleep sunbathing after a wee bit of scuba-diving and must have been buried when the tide came in.

Totally accepting this explanation Bob offers the nude woman a lift to the castle where she can borrow some clothes and maybe get a bite to eat.

Sounds legit.

You're welcome.

Unable to remember anything but her own name, Susan and Bob have no choice but to look after Carmilla till she regains her memory - which she appears to be trying to get back by sleeping in a makeshift coffin all day then parading around the house after dark in low cut dresses whilst licking her lips everytime Susan walks by.

Which is fairly enjoyable to watch but probably not to live with.

As you can imagine all this bouncy breast activity has a bit of a negative effect  on Susan, who gradually falls under Carmilla's spell and begins to partake in late night trysts with the mysterious stranger in the woods much to Bob's chagrin.

Standing up for himself he insists that their new houseguest gets a job to help with the bills and Carmilla (surprisingly) agrees applying for - and getting - a post at the local school teaching biology to Carol and her classmates.

Especially the bits about blood.

Between teaching teens and teasing troubled tottie Carmilla feeds Susan’s barely suppressed hatred for her husband whilst feeding on Susan's blood late at night in the old church where Mircalla is buried.

It's all go isn't it?

Worried for his wife's sanity - and frustrated that Carmilla is getting more action than he is - he calls on the doctor (not that one) to investigate and after a few evenings following the pair around he comes across the pair in a saucy sapphic situation, curled up naked in a Habitat sofa coffin in the church.

The office Secret Santa got stranger every year.

With her lesbian lusts discovered Carmilla decides the time is right to rid herself of the meddling menfolk around her so that she can have Susan all to herself....

From Spanish arthouse auteur, director, screenwriter and producer Vicente Aranda comes this slow burning take on J. Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 Gothic novella of Carmilla that owes more to Jean Rollin's Shiver of the Vampires (released the previous year) than it does Hammer's kinky Karnstein trilogy.

Which is kinda disappointing but heyho.

I mean The Vampire Lovers has Madeline Smith in it so wins just for that fact alone. 

But whereas Rollin rebelled against such outdated notions as coherent plotting, casting actual actors  and Hammer concentrated solely on Ingrid Pitts admittedly stunning cleavage, Aranda - due in part to the draconian censorship laws regarding nudity on film during the Franco era - seems more interested in exploring Catholic guilt and sexual repression mixed in with a wee bit of social commentary regarding the treatment of women in 70s Spain.

Which is a worthy cause if not a wholly satisfying one when the poster promises blood, boobs and that woman from The Champions seducing a petite brunette.

Plus it's pretty difficult to criticize something when you're bound by its rules.

And even he admitted that the countries censorship issues  caused problems for him, especially when shooting Carmilla's demise.

But at least he tried, his earlier works Fata Morgana and The Exquisite Cadaver go someway to proving that.

"I can see your house from here Peter".

Luckily he has a cast that can carry the movie - even at it's most bizarre/ludicrous - delete as applicable - moments, from Maribel Martín's neurotically nervous young bride to Simón Andreu's condescendingly creepy hubby, every member of the films small cast gives it their all but most surprising of all is Alexandra Bastedo's seriously underplayed Carmilla.

For those of us used to the voluptuous vamps of Hammer or the council estate, dirt footed Rollin rascals Bastedo is a revelation, coldly calculating with a performance that is perfectly pitched 'tween boredom and bonkers.

Definitely leaning more toward classy vamp than saucy tramp she even manages to look otherworldly and aloof when clad only in a pair of goggles and buried in a kids sandpit.

I see your dad's taking the divorce well.

Go in expecting a feast of blood soaked girl on girl titillation and you'll be heartily disappointed but if you switch off your sleaze-radar and settle back for something a wee bit more refined you'll discover a wee gem of a movie that whilst nowhere near as great as Daughters of Darkness is an entertaining enough way to spend an evening.

Bizarrely enough tho' if you take this, The Vampire Lovers and Shiver of The Vampire and stick them in a blender you'd probably get the perfect Carmilla adaptation.

Maybe one day.

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