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Saturday, February 15, 2014

BLOODLUST! -- DVD review by porfle

I've never seen BLOODLUST! (1961) get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, but it would certainly seem like a suitable subject.  It's cheap, somewhat sub-par in most production aspects,  not overly well-written, and, suffice it to say, a bit silly at times.  And the fact that Robert Reed plays the lead teenage hero is, by itself, enough for a buttload of "Brady Bunch" jokes.

(In one scene, the bad guy shoots a ceramic horse with a crossbow and shatters it.  The horse--wouldn't you know it--looks almost exactly like the one in the Bradys' livingroom.  Hence the line "Mom always said, don't shoot crossbows in the house" simply writes itself.)

The thing is, though, once you get past the TEENAGE ZOMBIES vibe of the opening minutes (two flaky teenage couples discover a heretofore unknown island and romp merrily into the clutches of the evil recluse who owns it), the film rises above its potential Jerry Warren-level awfulness and approaches the relatively higher quality of FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER--which was directed by BLOODLUST!'s cinematographer, Richard E. Cunha--or perhaps even Ray Kellogg's minor classic THE KILLER SHREWS

Wilton Graff (LUST FOR LIFE, LILI) helps lend gravitas to the proceedings as Dr. Albert Balleau, former military sniper who now continues his passion for hunting humans on his private island and is delighted to have such fit new specimens to grace his trophy room.  Johnny (Reed) and his nerdy pal Pete (Gene Persson) get to be the designated prey, while their lucky girlfriends, pretty blond judo expert Betty (June Kenney, EARTH VS. THE SPIDER) and jittery Joan (Jeanne Perry), face induction into Dr. Balleau's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Femmes. 

Also giving the film a leg-up in quality are first and only time director Ralph Brooke's brother Walter--the insanely-prolific character actor who would gain screen immortality with the single word "Plastics" in 1967's THE GRADUATE--as reluctant Balleau cohort Dean, and the equally-familiar Lilyan Chauvin (SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, PREDATOR 2) as Balleau's beautiful but miserable wife Sandra.  She and Dean are secret lovers who dream of escaping the island together, which now seems doable with the help of the four captive teens.  This plan works out about as well as you might expect, as long as you keep your expectations nice and low.

Bad movie lovers will enjoy the low-rent look of the interiors of Dr. Balleau's mansion (although the jungle sets and rock-walled trophy room aren't half bad) and relish the sight of young Robert Reed all puffed up in a tight T-shirt while giving his character the same easygoing suavity  and mild horndoggishness that he would later ooze as Mike Brady.  He also adopts his familiar fatherly tone in dealing with his more weak-willed pals Pete and Joan, who prove rather useless during the whole ordeal. 

The more capable Betty, meanwhile, gets to use her judo skills when she flips an oncoming henchman into a vat of acid, which, through the magic of cutaway editing, disintegrates him nicely.  BLOODLUST! is generally pretty gory at times for 1961, especially when Pete and Joan observe Balleau's chief lackey Jondor (Bobby Hall) arranging dismembered body parts to be stuffed for the trophy room. 

Jondor himself emerges from  a pit of quicksand later on with a host of live leeches squirming on his face, one of the film's lovelier images, and the whole thing ends with one of the cast skewered on wall spikes as blood gushes freely.  But somehow, perhaps due to the above-average cast taking the whole thing seriously, the film doesn't exude nearly the kind of lurid, H.G. Lewis-type aura it might have.

The DVD from Film Chest has a 4 x 3 aspect ratio with original mono sound.  No subtitles, but scrolling closed-captioning is available.  No extras. 

Touted as an "HD restoration from 35mm film elements", it still has some rough spots--particularly during the main titles and reel changes--along with occasional specks throughout the entire film.  Still, this print looks way, way better than the ragged PD copy I have on a Mill Creek collection, and is generally pretty nice-looking.  (Stills used for this review are not taken from the Film Chest restoration.)

While this modest (to put it mildly) reworking of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME isn't exactly riveting, it remains fairly entertaining from start to finish and I had a good time watching it.  The mood is effectively morbid, the jungle hunt sequence sufficiently suspenseful, and the ending particularly satisfying.  If you're the kind of person who has a sweet tooth for flicks like TEENAGE ZOMBIES, FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER, and THE KILLER SHREWS, then BLOODLUST! may actually belong in your very own trophy room.

Buy it at


1 comment:

vwstieber said...

A fun and slightly off-kilter movie !

The BCI-Eclipse edition has a gorgeous print and is a much better bargain for money:

It even comes with a nice booklet giving some background info and of course 7 other films, all in excellent quality