Actors: William Campbell, Patrick Magee, Sid Haig
Directors: Rados Novakovic, Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman
Published by Arrow Video
So, here we are at Part Two.
The second disc of Arrow’s Blood Bath set is where there’s much more meat. I couldn’t really ever shake the feeling that – really – this is the main disc, and Operation Titian and Portrait in Terror were more bundled in as “Bonus Materials”.
For Blood Bath, vast chunks of the film have been re-shot – in fact, based on a single viewing, I’m pretty sure that there’s only a few establishing shots and a few odd moments that remain. It’s an impressive achievement to get such a totally different story for the final product. In this version, gone is the Jack Higgins-esque thriller; it is replaced by a grotesque vampire story, full of ghoulish magic, meat cleaver hackings and people being thrown into vats of boiling wax.
Blood Bath is closer in tone to the classic Hammer and Amicus movies of the sixties and seventies than anything else – although without the typically British subtlety and humour that made those movies such enduring pieces of art. Blood Bath is a good hack job, but it’s still a hack job.
Also included on the disc is the final version of the troubled and bastardised movie: Track of the Vampire. This is essentially a TV edit of Blood Bath, with a lot of extra footage stuffed in like a badly packed sandwich. Some of it works, providing some entertainment. Some of it – like a woman dancing on the beach for five straight fucking minutes – does not; and the majority of it kills the pacing in either case.
Blood Bath is a good set, and is clearly a labour of love for Arrow, who have – as always – done an absolutely outstanding job with the remaster of both picture and sound for all four versions of the movie. Unfortunately, in this instance, they have been polishing the proverbial turd. Of the four versions of the film, only Blood Bath is really worth bothering with, so unless you’re a major fan of the movie, or if you’re a hopeful film editor interested in learning about how to chop footage around to make four movies, this is probably one to give a miss.