Blood Bath is a somewhat notorious movie that’s probably best known for its ridiculously convoluted route to the screen. Here goes: Roger Corman took over the production of Yugoslavian spy-flick Operation Titian (1963) but he decided it was unreleasable and re-edited into a murder movie called Portrait in Terror (1965), which eventually made it to television. Even so, Corman asked Jack Hill if he could do anything with it. Hill filmed some extra bits in exotic locations to keep the Eastern European feel and turned it into Blood Bath, a movie about a mad sculptor who kills his models and turns them into sculptures. It also featured beatniks (including Sid Haig) but was never released as Corman still wasn’t satisfied. So then he gets Stephanie Rothman to have another go. The original mad artist (William Campbell – you know him from classic Trek’s Trouble with Tribbles and The Squire of Gothos) refused to have anything more to do with this (who can blame him?) so he’s replaced by someone who looks nothing like he does. The solution is simple: he’s now a vampire who can change his appearance (if only Ed Wood had thought of that). This one is finally put out as Blood Bath (1966) but we haven’t finished there: it was too short for television so even more additional material was added and it became Track of the Vampire (1966). So not only has it turned from an Eastern European spy movie into an American vampire yarn with beatniks, somewhere along the line Patrick Magee’s substantial part in the first movie is reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance as a corpse in the final one.
With us? Don’t worry if you’re not because it obviously has stinker written all over it. Except, it isn’t. Out of the above mess, we actually get a not-too-bad B-movie. By some miracle the plot makes sense, there are some genuinely eerie dream sequences and the humour with the beatniks still manages to be quite funny. In fact, the whole artist/beatnik thing makes the film somewhat similar to Corman’s classic Bucket of Blood (1959), but with added creepiness and vampirism (and you need to see Bucket of Blood if you haven’t already).
But what we haven’t enough words to do is review Operation Titian, Portrait in Terror or Track of the Vampire because believe it or not, those heroic people at Arrow Video have included all four movies on two discs. Think that’s pretty much above and beyond. They’re worth a watch and there are some great extras.
How many words is that? Get in!
Extras: Operation Titian / Portrait in Terror and Track of the Vampire / visual essay by Tim Lucas / interview with Sid Haig / interview with Jack Hill / stills gallery / poster / booklet.BLOOD BATH (1966) / DIRECTOR: JACK HILL, STEPHANIE ROTHMAN / SCREENPLAY: JACK HILL, STEPHANIE ROTHMAN / STARRING: WILLIAM CAMPBELL, MARISSA MATHES, LORI SAUNDERS, SANDRA KNIGHT, KARL SCHANZER, BIFF ELLIOT, SID HAIG / RELEASED: OUT NOW