The lure of the impulse buy is a hard one for the film geek to resist. We’ve all fallen prey to those cheap box sets filled with forgotten Spaghetti Westerns, Kung Fu Films, Horror or whatever 35mm print someone found in their garage and was able to license for 3.97. Most of the time these films sit unviewed on the shelf still in their shrink wrap. Cheap License Theater is a weekly trip dedicated to exploring these cinematic backwaters of the not-quite-public-domain.
What’s the Film? Blood Mania (1970)
Who Licensed It on the Cheap? Drive-In Cult Classics, Vol. 3
Cool Trailer? Not bad, but guilty of an oversell.
Worth Watching? Well, before I answer, I should explain that Bryce and I traded columns as an “after April first, but still in April” April Fools’ gag. You can find his entry in The Cult of Action right here.
Now, this film… I won’t call it a total loss, but I can say for damned sure it’s not good and it definitely errs on the side of “mania.” Not to say it’s bloodless, but if the word is in the title, I expect a fair amount and this movie just doesn’t get there. The biggest problem is that it meanders, and oh man, does it ever meander. The ending comes out of nowhere, because almost none of the characters are actually fleshed-out and there’s nothing like an actual resolution at the film’s close. It just ambles its way through something you could, in only the most general terms, define as a plot.
Basically, the actress who is best known for playing Greedo in Star Wars plays Victoria, a spoiled rich nympho who cares for her ailing father and really wants to get a good boning from his doctor. Her father is awful, she’s awful, her sister who’s introduced in the beginning of the third act after having never been mentioned is slightly less awful, the doctor is awful… it’s exhausting. It’s a film about awful people with no redeeming commentary on all of their awfulness. So, even though the doctor has a live-in girlfriend (or maybe wife, it’s never made clear), Victoria needs to break off a piece of that. He rebuffs her advances until… he doesn’t anymore. Again, this film has a hazy approximation of a plot, so frequently things just happen. All of the sudden, Victoria and the doctor are naked and humping in some black void, but it’s never really explained how we got to this point. Or why it’s happening in a black void. It’s like a bad acid trip.
Sometime after this, we find out that some dude who might be a friend of our doctor is shaking him down for $50,000 because he knows he used to perform illegal abortions. Where this guy has been until now and why he suddenly decides to blackmail our dear doctor is just as much a mystery as anything else in this film. So, he needs the money, Victoria hates her father and this is all a little too convenient, so she kills her father, and the hunky doctor opts out of ratting on her because he wants part of the inheritance. This is where the previously unmentioned sister makes her entrance, and to the surprise of I’m guessing absolutely no one, dearly departed daddy’s will gives everything but the house to little sis, and even though Victoria gets the house, the terms of the will preclude her selling it. Shortly after, Hunky Doctor fucks Victoria’s little sister, presumably to get the 50 G’s he needs to pay off his blackmailer.
Would you be surprised if I told you Victoria kills her sister? I hope not, because it’s in the fucking trailer. There are claims that the last 15 minutes of this film will shock you to your very core, but the most shocking thing I found was that they remembered Blackmail Guy was still a character. I should also mention that Hunky Doctor’s girlfriend/wife disappears without explanation shortly after she’s raped by Blackmail Guy for no apparent reason. Narratively, this film is a goddamn trainwreck.
Still, it has some decent visuals, mostly coming in the form of acid trip non-sequitors, like the opening credit sequence and the “humping in the void” scene. It also contains a sequence that sees Hunky Doctor try to seduce Little Sis via a trip to the Renaissance Faire set to awful elevator music. You know, if that does it for you. At less than 90 minutes, it’s decent for a laugh if you want to riff on it with some friends, or if you have a serious love of vintage boobs, but otherwise, skip it.