DIRECTED BY: Brianne Murphy
FEATURING: Anthony Geary, , Sam Gilman, Susan Damante
PLOT: A Vietnam veteran falls in love with a water nymph, but she can’t love a man who has a soul; the local topless witches’ coven offers to get rid of his for him.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Because, let’s face it, the movie’s terrible.
COMMENTS: Sometimes, exploitation movies are so rushed and cut so many corners that they become incoherent and unintentionally strange. Cases where movies aimed at a six-pack swilling Friday night crowd dare to be intentionally bizarre are far less common. Blood Sabbath is an ultra-rare example of a jiggle-fest that manages to be weird in both ways. The story of a world-weary vet who walks to Mexico, falls in love with a water spirit, and sells his soul for love could have made for an odd enough little modern fairy tale, played straight. But, instead, Blood Sabbath begins with a scene of a gang of longhaired peaceniks luring our hitchhiking hero to their flower power van so they can spray him with beer and taunt him with the dangling melons of a topless hippie chick as they zoom off into the sunset. Then, a gang of picnicking naked women (including mammacious nudie fave Uschi Digart) try to pants the harried soldier and chase him until he rolls down a ravine and gently knocks himself unconscious. The casually introduced fantasy elements—water sprites, the witches coven that demands an annual blood sacrifice from the local peasants—and the solemn tone make this an unusual enough drive-in horror movie, but the way the director seizes any opportunity to put a naked woman on screen, regardless of logic, is its weirdest, and its defining, feature. In the course of the movie we discover that topless go-go dancing is a much bigger part of Satanism than anyone realized, and being sacrificed at a black mass turns out to be surprisingly similar to getting a lap dance. The flick is amazing, and amusing, in its shamelessness. The thespianship is abysmal all the way around; the quiet, tormented village priest who occasionally explodes into loud, dramatic bouts of anguished “acting!” is the worst offender. Campy though her performance may be, future Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S. Dyanne Thorne (playing a witch-queen named “Alotta”), emerges as the best actor in the troupe (though the guy who plays the hermit who looks like Lloyd Bridges caught in the early stages of werewolf transformation isn’t half bad). Of course, it would be hard for anyone to shine when reciting lines like “take my soul, damn you!” and “It’s David. He came into the cave with blood all over him. Sacrificial blood!” Ensorcellment is indicated by the usual array of low-budget acid trip clichés: double images, solarization, colored filters, and zoom-lens abuse. A random shot of David cradling a dying solider suggests it’s all an allegory for America’s experience in Vietnam, or something. Though it’s pretty terrible, it’s seldom boring, and you already knew whether you were in this film’s target audience or not when you reached the lines “taunt him with the dangling melons of a topless hippie chick…” With its eerie fairy tale + naked lady formula, I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that director Murphy had been inspired by the previous year’s (much better) Girl Slaves of Morgana le Fay.
Some jokes are just too easy. I was going to quip “this movie should be called Boob Sabbath,” but when I went looking for a critical quote, I found that someone (probably many people) beat me to it. Great minds think alike.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“…this bizarre cross between seventies witch movies, NIGHT TIDE, LOVE STORY and ORGY OF THE DEAD, with romantic meadow-romping, tepid gore effects, crass exploitation… and bad acting is, in a word, awful.”–Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings (DVD)