Sunday, 26 January 2014

Review - Night of Bloody Horror (1969 - Dir. Joy N. Houck Jr.)

This is the first instalment in an infrequent season that could well take a few years to complete, in fact it may never be finished depending on the availability of the films. So what's it all about? F. Paul Wilson wrote three books in the eighties that were seemingly unconnected: The Keep (made into a disappointing film by Michael Mann), The Tomb and The Touch. He then wrote a further three novels that brought everything together: Reborn, Reprisal and finally Nightworld. These six books form The Adversary Cycle and they're probably the books that I have read the most. 

What's all this got to do with films then? In Nightworld the local television stations run horror/science fiction marathons that fit with the theme of the book. These films are listed at various points throughout. Being a list pervert I just couldn't resist trying to watch all of them, and that's what I'm going to try and do. I've included the full list of 56 films on Letterboxd for your delectation.

And that brings us to the first film on the list: Night of Bloody Horror. For the late sixties this probably was a night of bloody horror but now it's more of an evening of slight grazing. Okay, it's not that tame but the violence won't have the same impact as when it was originally released. There is a quality comedy killing near the start when a lovely lady goes to confession only to be told that her "penance is death!" Eye trauma follows. An axe is used at one point too - always a treat - so this can be seen as a precursor to the slasher films.

When I was watching The Ark of the Sun God recently I was cynically wondering when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released, and yep, it was a couple of years earlier. Here I was thinking that night of Bloody Horror must have been filmed in 1961 or 1962, just after Psycho. Mais non! This was released in 1969. Way too late for a cheap homage. Suffice to say that if you've seen Hitchcock's classic then you'd see the unexpected twist in Night of Bloody Horror coming, even if it set off from the other side of the world. 

Despite some fairly amateurish acting it's enjoyable enough. Wesley (Gerald McRaney - Simon and Simon) plays a troubled young lad who has witnessed something rather disturbing in his childhood. Flashbacks occur in a similar fashion to the ones in Deep Red (1975) accompanied by a tinkly creepy childish tune. Wesley is regularly afflicted by some serious headaches. So serious they are visualised by some some swirly patterns that are overlaid on to his grimacing visage. The police start to suspect Wesley of some minor misdemeanours due to the fact that his girlfriends keep turning up dead. He doesn't help his case by generally being violent and having some slightly worrying dreams. In one he is met by an attractive reporter who hops into bed with him for some slap and tickle. As they caress and rummage, Wesley looks down and the attractive brunette has changed... to his mum. Not good. Oedipus and Freud would stroke their chins in ponderment.

Just as Psycho is an example of a western giallo, so too is this, even down to the leather murdering gloves. It has some style: freeze frames are used to good effect and the camera goes completely bonkers in a nightclub scene, flicking between negative and positive versions of the film. Added to that is the way the camera operator constantly zooms in and out in time to the music. It all made me feel a little bit on the murdery side. 

Ultimately, it's not a Dario Argento giallo or a quality Hitchcock thriller. But what you do get is a slice of sixties murder and mayhem all filmed in Violent Vision that may or may not have influenced Mr Argento. Best for people who've never seen Psycho though.

If you like this you could also try:
Psycho, Peeping Tom.


  1. Fair review (I watched this last night and rather enjoyed it), and intriguing comments re Deep Red. I felt the ending to be hilarious and not only a rip off of Psycho (1960) but vaguely anticipating Friday 13th (1980). Great link! The poster is also hilarious and, if contemporary seems to prefigure the tag line for Last House On The Left (1972). Good luck on your voyage through those films. I'll try and keep up with you as I've seen a couple of 'em.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I'm not doing very well on getting through the Night World films. In fact, this is the only one I've watched and reviewed so far. Maybe tonight is the night when I crack on and get another one watched.

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