(Release Date: September 30, 1972)
(US Release Date: April 1974)
However, with 1972's The Blood Spattered Bride, I didn't even have to try... my job was done for me, man! This Spanish Horror movie succeeds at being both scary as hell and hotter than hell at the same time. If the name The Blood Spattered Bride sounds a bit familiar it's probably because Tarantino named one of the chapters in his Kill Bill epic after the English title of this movie. While Tarantino counts this movie among his very favorite, the similarities between it and Kill Bill are primarily only titular.
Writer/ Director Vicente Aranda adapted his film from the Sheridan Le Fanu novel Carmilla (itself owing a debt to the stories of Matthew Lewis) and adds his own modern twists to the tale. The film begins with an incredibly beautiful young bride named Susan (the incredibly beautiful young Maribel Martin) adjusting to her new married life while on her honeymoon in the rural Spanish countryside. By the way, when I say beautiful, I don't mean "Oh, she's hot!" or "Not bad!" I mean pass her on the street and your jaw will drop, you'll trip on it and fall into a Coma but you'll have sweet dreams for a month! HOT!
Susan begins having scary visions almost immediately. It becomes clear that these are linked to her innate innocence clashing with the appetites of her husband (Simón Andreu). Look, I sympathize with ol' Hubby here, because Susan is mindblowingly hot in the face, body, hair, voice, everything and once we see her (completely) naked, it only makes sense that he'd want to be in bed with her all the time. However, this guy goes a little more than too far in his "affections". Sort of like any given Ed Wood movie, Andreu's character has good intentions and bad execution.
As Susan finds places in her husband's family's ancestral castle to hide from his grabby hands, she finds more and more history of the property, including the frightening story of Mircalla Karstein, the Blood Spattered Bride. It isn't long before her nightmares get stronger and are soon permeated by the apparition of a beautiful blonde vampire who compels Susan to kill her husband and run off into the woods with her for some sweet Sapphic love! Susan repeatedly finds in her possession the dagger that Mircalla used to murder her own husband with on their wedding night, after he tried to get her to do "Unspeakable Things"!
While the change in her is becoming more marked by the second, things really get complicated when her husband discovers a beautiful naked blonde woman who has quite literally washed up on the beach and become buried in the sand. Hubby cops a feel, then takes pity on this forlorn snorkeler and brings her home to the ol' mansion. The problem is that it's immediately obvious to Susan that this new visitor, Carmilla (Alexandra Bastedo, nude), is the Lesbian Vampire of her fantasies and she soon becomes totally and completely in her thrilling thrall. Also, very soon, so does Susan's new Niece, Carol (Rosa Rodrigues).
What follows, up to the bitter end, is alternately very sexy, very scary and very misogynistic. Aranda seems to be making a film he really, truly wants to make, but is being far too careful not to seem to overly glorify the homosexual relationship between Carmilla and Susan. Still, Aranda treats this respectfully and with a surprising maturity. All of the derisive commentary can be found spewing from the mouth of Susan's husband and his doctor buddy (Dean Selmier). Yeah, they probably just had repressed urges for each other. YOU'RE RIGHT IN LINE, PAL!
While not up to the deep red sea extremes of Grand Guignol or Giallo flicks of the era, The Blood Spattered Bride can be a very bloody movie. (Okay, raise your hands if you read the preceding sentence and actually said "No Shit!" out loud!) We see knives and guns doing some pretty "unspeakable things" to human meat, we see blood on naked chicks, we see surprising ways for people to die. This is most certainly a horror movie, not some soft core porn. Oh, the soft core porn is there, though. We don't maybe see a nipple or something... no, this is full on, full frontal assault, and I couldn't be less offended by it! This is all-natural and pre-surgery and pre-waxing crazes too. Amazing that some people can be atheists, man!
Aranda is really quite a director, and was already doing great work then. There are some surprising camera choices, special tricks and establishment shots that are just beautiful. He also has a fantastic eye for setting up scary and moody darkness shots, not to mention his ability to make even daytime scenes frightening. He's really worth watching.
Sadly, this film is also dated in many ways, and the occasional moment shows that this isn't just a 1972 movie, but a 1972 Spanish Horror movie. The almost Laugh In-style score can be unintentionally funny once in a while. Folks, take it from someone who knows, there is NOTHING scary about a Trombone!!!
Occasionally the lines and delivery come off as just a bit silly and forced. Strangely once in a while Aranda wastes time with an odd use of expository shot, featuring an actor looking directly into the camera. It's as if to say "DO YOU SEE ME, I'M DOING SOMETHING CLEVER!"
It's not hard to appreciate why this film has so many fans, and so many fans who have gained prestige on their own. What is interesting is that this was released in the USA as a midnight movie, and probably didn't attract the same crowd you might find lined up around Grauman's Chinese Theater. It's striking to see how artistic and classy this film can be especially considering its Lesbian Vampire subject matter. This is even stranger considering how this was marketed. Released as a double feature with 1974's I Dismember Mama (no, I didn't make that up), The Blood Spattered Bride has unquestionably the most annoying movie trailer I've ever seen (except the one for Rush Hour 2). How annoying? Almost as annoying as Fulci's Lo squartatore di New York. Luckily the preview lasts only a minute or two, whereas Fulci's annoying film is 91 annoying minutes long. Say what you can, do and will about Vicente Aranda's The Blood Spattered Bride, it's not annoying. It may not be for all tastes (it's for mine, though, baby), but it is an artistic, if flawed, experiment in risky horror storytelling fully worth Three Stars out of Five. Because I do prefer my brides in the non-blood-spattered variety, I'm actually going to close now and go attempt to seduce my wife. While she doesn't seem to have much interest at the moment, I can most certainly rule out the possibilities posed in this movie. After all, it's me, not her, who counts lesbians amongst his best friends.
What... what, that surprises you?
The most Rewarding part of Maribel's performance...
Was when she took off her clothes!
Hey, at least I'm honest!!!
What can I say? I'm a Feminist!
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