Joel M. Reed's Blood Bath DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD Released by Subversive Cinema
If I can't scare you, I'm going to bug you. – A ghost.
Written and directed by Joel M. Reed
1976, Region 1 (NTSC), 83 minutes, Rated PG
DVD released on June 27th, 2006
Harve Presnell as Peter Brown
Doris Roberts as Mrs. Lambert
Jerry Lacy as Don Savage
In Blood Bath, a horror anthology, Peter’s dinner party guests take turns telling tales of suspense and horror, in hopes to convince Peter (Harve Presnell) that some things have no explanation other than the supernatural.
The first tale tells of a professional hitman. Professional being the key word here, as this cat never makes mistakes. But when he finally does slip up, it could prove fatal.
Next is a story about a man who just hates his position in life. Or, rather, his choice for a wife. A quick visit to the local gypsy for some poison yields a magic coin that grants unlimited wishes. And a steal at 10 bucks!
Later that night, with his wife nagging at him from the other room, the man figures he has nothing to lose and wishes he were a soldier in Napoleon’s army. Cue wavy camera shot.
But what happens when he gets injured in the war, decides home may not be so bad after all and his coin is nowhere to be found?
After that, Sally tells a yarn about her father—and the ghost who killed him. Seems her father loved nothing more than money, and the ghost of man whose life was ruined by Sally’s father’s greed has come back to collect a little revenge. Oh, and I made the name “Sally” up. I never heard her called by name, and she looks like a “Sally.”
The final story told at the table is the tale of an American Kung-fu master who is not living the humble life he took an oath to live. That, of course, will change.
And, of course, Peter has his own story. But it’s not one he’ll tell his company.
It’s not until after his guests leave that the real party starts.
I’m a fan of horror anthologies. The Twilight Zone – The Movie, Tales from the Darkside, Creepshow and its sequel, Trilogy of Terror; the list goes on. A good anthology, like a good short story collection, can entertain just as much as a full movie (or novel). If it’s done well.
Unfortunately, Joel M. Reed’s Blood Bath is not done very well.
It’s certainly not the acting — that’s quite good for low-budget. There’s a quick shot of P.J. Soles (Halloween, Carrie) — whose part, by the way, is so “blink and you’ll miss her” that her name has no business being on the back of the box — and Doris Roberts (TV’s “Everybody Loves Raymond”) makes an appearance as well. For a low-budget movie, the quality of actors was pretty impressive.
Since a low-budget movie generally relies on two things to make it enjoyable, and the acting in Bath is decent, then it must be the script. The stories, well, kind of suck. Now, sometimes a crappy story can be overcome by the acting, and in the story of the ghost haunting the greedy man, the actors do make up for that abysmal story. But that’s only because the script is so bad, it’s a train wreck watching these two guys trying to make something out of it. And that seems to be par for the course for the other stories, as well. All of the stories are pretty lame, but at least somewhat watchable because of train-wreckability.
But, hell, that’s not even good enough for a re-watchable factor.
The selling point of this film, obviously, is the Joel M. Reed part in the Joel M. Reed’s Blood Bath. Reed is the writer/director of another low-budget film, Blood Sucking Freaks, a cult classic. Apparently, Subversive Cinema is going for the fans of Freaks, and that’s more than fair. That’s business.
But you might want to give this one a rent rather than pick it up blindly.
Video and Audio:
Blood Bath’s 16x9 presentation is a little soft and the colors seem to have an orange hue to them. The blacks, however, are exceptionally deep. There are a few noticeable specks, but overall a decent picture for a low-budget, 30-year-old film.
Both Dolby 2.0 stereo and mono tracks are offered, and I noticed very little difference. While I didn’t hear any pops or hisses, there are times when the music and/or ambient noise overtakes the dialogue and, sometimes, the audio is very hollow.
- Feature length commentary with director Joel M. Reed
- Interview with cast and crew
- Talent bios
The commentary is a pretty good listen, as the moderator keeps Reed talking, and Reed himself is down to Earth, with some funny anecdotes.
The interviews with cast and crew is called “Taking a Blood Bath – Making 70’s Indies in New York.” This 40 minute documentary is much more enjoyable than the actual movie. It covers how Blood Bath came to be, among various other topics, such as “Elites, Actors, Discos, Outlaws and… Porn. NYC in the 70’s.” Now we’re talking.
Trailers included are Candy Snatchers, Metal Skin, The Gardener, Blue Murder, Funnyman and Blood Bath.
Static talent bios are included for some of the cast and crew. And make sure you hunt around the DVD Credits for an Easter egg.
For such a craptacular movie, Subversive did a pretty good job with the special features.
The saving grace on this disc is the documentary in the special features. If that doesn’t interest you, skip Blood Bath all together, unless you are a hardcore Reed fan. Even then, I can only recommend renting it.