Friday, September 04, 2015

21 Drops of BLOOD

Sometimes a film comes along to make words seem almost superfluous, and if images alone could ever persuade someone to buy a Blu-ray disc unseen, wouldn't that film be... Andy Milligan's BLOOD?

Made in 1974, it was Milligan's first feature to be shot in 35mm at his place on Staten Island. As these frame grabs from Code Red Releasing's new limited edition BD attest, it is an absolutely hallucinatory shot of bargain basement Grand Guignol, made all the more irresistible by its dollops of soap. It's about the miserable arranged marriage of an incognito Lawrence Talbot (who has an understandably wandering eye) and Dracula's daughter (who is not only a vampire, but jealous, condescending and relentlessly needy). She's basically bedridden as Lawrence and a team of literally rotting, pustulent assistants use the blood of a halfwit donor to raise a crop of carnivorous plants with the capacity to wean the Countess from traditional forms of feeding. But is she appreciative? "Oh, go to Hell!" she tells her husband at bedtime. "We're there already," he says, rolling over - and that scenario is made riotously literal in the film's closing moments, as vampire and werewolf try their best to strangle each other in the midst of a raging inferno.

BLOOD is now available as the second half of a delightful Bryanston Double Bill from Code Red Releasing, a limited edition Blu-ray available from Screen Archive Entertainment and other outlets. Collectors should be advised that Code Red's print in nearly a full 10 minutes longer than the only other home video release, a VHS from Iver Film Services taken from a PAL master - but collectors will want to hang onto the earlier one too because it has bolder color and unmattes the framing to open aperture. The restored footage consists mostly of dialogue, but oh! what dialogue! Be aware that there is one unfortunate scene of mouse abuse, at least part of which appears to be faked - so let's pretend it all is.

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