Il trono di fuoco (1970)

Directed by Jesús Franco [Other horror films: Gritos en la noche (1962), La mano de un hombre muerto (1962), El secreto del Dr. Orloff (1964), Miss Muerte (1966), Necronomicon – Geträumte Sünden (1968), The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968), Der heiße Tod (1969), Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969), The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969), Paroxismus (1969), De Sade 70 (1970), Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht (1970), Les cauchemars naissent la nuit (1970), Vampyros Lesbos (1971), Sie tötete in Ekstase (1971), Jungfrauen-Report (1972), Drácula contra Frankenstein (1972), Der Todesrächer von Soho (1972), La fille de Dracula (1972), Dr. M schlägt zu (1972), Les démons (1973), La comtesse noire (1973), La maldición de Frankenstein (1973), La nuit des étoiles filantes (1973), Los ojos siniestros del doctor Orloff (1973), Al otro lado del espejo (1973), La noche de los asesinos (1974), Les possédées du diable (1974), La comtesse perverse (1974), Les gloutonnes (1975), L’éventreur de Notre-Dame (1975), Sexorcismes (1975), Frauengefängnis (1976), Jack the Ripper (1976), Un silencio de tumba (1976), In 80 Betten um die Welt (1976), Die Marquise von Sade (1976), Greta – Haus ohne Männer (1977), Die Liebesbriefe einer portugiesischen Nonne (1977), Die teuflischen Schwestern (1977), Der Ruf der blonden Göttin (1977), El sádico de Notre-Dame (1979), Mondo cannibale (1980), El caníbal (1980), Die Säge des Todes (1981), La tumba de los muertos vivientes (1982), La mansión de los muertos vivientes (1982), Revenge in the House of Usher (1983), El tesoro de la diosa blanca (1983), Macumba sexual (1983), Sola ante el terror (1983), Sangre en mis zapatos (1983), Mil sexos tiene la noche (1984), El siniestro doctor Orloff (1984), Lilian (la virgen pervertida) (1984), La esclava blanca (1985), Faceless (1987), Killer Barbys (1996), Tender Flesh (1997), Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula (1998), Lust for Frankenstein (1998), Vampire Blues (1999), Dr. Wong’s Virtual Hell (1999), Helter Skelter (2000), Vampire Junction (2001), Incubus (2002), Killer Barbys vs. Dracula (2002), Snakewoman (2005), La cripta de las mujeres malditas (2008), La cripta de las mujeres malditas II (2008), La cripta de las condenadas (2012), La cripta de las condenadas: Parte II (2012)]

This Jesús Franco film didn’t really do a whole lot for me. While there are some solid scenes of torture every now and again, much of the film came across as a historical drama, and were it not for Christopher Lee (playing the sinister Judge Jeffries), I would have liked this film a lot less.

Widely known as The Bloody Judge, I really appreciate, as a moderate student of history (a minor of mine in college) the historical nature of the film, though I am slightly put off by how it overshadows any and all of the horror aspects (which come primarily from the torture sequences).

Of course, this film isn’t without it’s positives. Christopher Lee does great in his role (though I don’t think the conclusion insofar as Jeffries was concerned was that satisfactory), and Hans Hass Jr., Milo Quesada, and Maria Rohm stand out also. Also, there was a solid sequence at the end once William of Orange came ashore. Alas, the ending played out somewhat quickly, which gave it a somewhat anticlimactic feel.

Personally, I think the biggest problem with this film is it’s meandering plot. The basic plot, in which the son of a Lord is looking to get married to the sister of a woman killed for being a witch and escape out of England is all well-and-good, but at an hour and forty minutes, I will admit to having stopped caring past a certain point. Loved the torture sequences (though none were overly over-the-top), and every scene with Lee, but much of the film just wasn’t my cup of tea.

As it is, when it comes to historical horror films, I already have the 1968 Witchfinder General to fill the void. If you see this for any reason, it should be Lee’s solid performance as a despicable judge killing innocents in the name of God and country. Truth be told, I was hoping for more than I got from this. The Bloody Judge may work for you, but it didn’t do a lot for me.

5.5/10

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

I Drink Your Blood

Directed by David E. Durston [Other horror films: N/A]

This grindhouse exploitation flick isn’t nearly as gory and wild as I remember it being, but it’s still a moderately fun ride.

The story, in which Satanic hippies are infected with rabies as a form of revenge, was pretty fun. At times, it was reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead, which came out just two years prior, as multiple mindless people were wandering around, committing violent acts, and some others board themselves in to protect themselves.

It also has a decent amount of gory violence. While there weren’t too many notable gory portions, there was a solid decapitation, along with a few dismemberments (one by an electric knife), and an impalement by pitchfork. Despite all of this, though, it never reaches the H.G. Lewis level of bloodshed, which is sort of a shame.

Really, the only issue I have with the film is the length – I know that when this first came out, theaters dictated their own cuts, and thus, a lot of versions of this film exist. I think that the theaters had a better idea than the director, because at an hour and 24 minutes, I felt the film went on a bit long. Cut out just ten, maybe 15 minutes, and I think it’d have been both more digestible and less dragging.

For an early piece of 70’s exploitation, I Drink Your Blood can be pretty entertaining. If the gore had been a bit better, and the length a bit more bearable, then I think the movie would have ultimately been more memorable. Still, it’s certainly a movie that’s worth watching, especially if 70’s flicks are your thing.

7.5/10

Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970)

Entertaining

Directed by Douglas Hickox [Other horror films: Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959), Theater of Blood (1973), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983), Blackout (1985)]

What an oddball film. Based off a play of the same name, I’d probably call this mostly a dark comedy with a splash of horror elements near the end. Being a British movie, the humor is oftentimes dry, but it generally worked. It’s such a strange plot, though, and the characters (there are only four of note) aren’t relatable whatsoever, making is a somewhat difficult film to truly get into.

The four cast members all do reasonably well. Beryl Reid and Harry Andrews were certainly the more interesting siblings I’ve seen. Alan Webb overacted more than a bit, but given he played an old man close to dementia, I think that’s moderately forgivable. Mr. Sloane, played by Peter McEnery, was an oddity of a character, and I’d certainly have liked more background into him. His interactions with Andrews (who played a closeted gay man attracted to Sloane) were pretty golden, and overall, I’d say McEnery was the best of the bunch.

Given the horror elements are both sparse and don’t show up until an hour and ten minutes in, this film relies on it’s humor and witty dialogue. If you’re not into British comedy, this would definitely be a hard one to get through. Luckily, like I said, the humor worked for me, and the catchy tune ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane‘ will be stuck in my head for the next few days, but even so, it’s not really a film I entirely enjoyed, given the lack of horror elements until the end (and even those were rather light).

Honestly, this is a film the likes of which I’ve never really seen before, and while I was enjoying much of the humor and just general nuttiness of the movie, from a horror standpoint, it left a lot to be desired. If you’re into 70’s British comedies, I’d give this one a go, but if you’re looking for some classic British horror (the same director of this later made Theater of Blood, which would certainly count), you won’t be finding it here.

5.5/10