Horror fans that seek a return to the gothic dramas of the 70s, from the classic studios of AIP and Hammer, will find comfort in writer and director Joe Hollow’s A Blood story, with a passionate rekindling of the legendary Elizabeth Bathory, complete with a Shakespeare faire of mature fantasy storytelling for all to enjoy. In addition, Hollow’s film, serves as a reunion party since much of the cast returns to work with him again, from the film Disciples (2014) and a fitting moment of seen the late great actor Robert Z’Dar of b-movies on the screen for one of his final performances, all capture in this Brain Damage Films release.
The film opens with three individuals, all strangers at a hidden away estate, all with the goals of discovering a Fountain of Youth, a legend told countless times with various degrees of success, and here they all want it regardless of the costs. However, they also all have various lustful deviant sexual desires, but sadly for the skin fans, not much of the depraved acts reveal themselves on the screen, while the suggestive moments of whippings and spankings set the mood of eroticism, and the slight of blood captures the sensuality of all participants. The story surrounds Madison Sheffield (Mindy Robinson), who suffered great disfigurement on her body from her husband destroying her modeling career, and become a writer of sorts with an assignment to write a love story. Mindy’s portrayal brings much sympathy of the audience, the dreadful real life situations of a narrow-minded vanity obsessed society seeks to tear down people over physical injuries and subtle aging, showing everyone the seedy business side of the industry. This starts the muddling through the screenplay and translating it on the screen, with bizarre mannerisms from various cast members. Her first visit results in her wounds heal at the estate, and she discover a mystery coin suggesting hidden wealth at the estate and involves another guest, Carter Reid (Mark Hanson) and a ruthless criminal Gerry the Jaw (Robert Z’Dar) discovery the truths at the estate. Although, many of the b-movie actors in the movie hold great screen presences, actor Camden Toy (Francis) truly owns each of his scenes, with deep expressions of gothic richness, which seems eerily similar to the horror legends of Price and Lee. Francis, also contains private secrets, such Bathory’s husband, brought back to life from his daughter Anna (Melanie Robel), and enjoys collecting hearts to resurrect his beloved wife. One must look for the small roles of the Renkes, Lucian and Margaret portrayed by Joe Hollow, and horror icon and legend Linnea Quigley, who both bring excellent contributions of gothic styles to film.
Hollow’s production moves at a slow pace, and not likely to keep pace with some the horror audience and enjoys a quicken horror film with action sequences, guns blazing, decapitations, gut-munching, and rising nasty body casts, no this movie brings immense numbers of flourish mannerisms to the flick. The scares department lacks thoroughly, though that does not represent the course of action, rather a layering of thick rich darkness and evilness reigning supreme, with haunting of Bathory (Debra Lamb). Now a film involving such a character of Bathory and her lusts of blood, the movie contains nudity but not the rampant T&A in a commonplace checklist for a horror movie, rather, more of erotic loving beauty, than sheer bloodlust. In addition, all the nice camerawork and production qualities, the soundtrack comes across with haunting themes, echoing under the charge erotic sensuality and thick gothic themes, come from the talented hands of Harry Manfredini, obvious a name synonymous with numerous horror movie scores, most noted for Friday the 13th (1980).
A few moments herein the film, felt slightly off kilter and a brief moment of creating a jump scene, though all overlooked as the character development stands out as a phenomenon component of the film. Nevertheless the noted bloody bathtub scene to some might seem as a downfall, the visual eroticism works, but the mixture of the blood finds itself lacking, a tad too watery, missing the vicious and vibrant bloodbath tub scene from Hostel (2005). The comparison between these two scenes, holds none, Eli Roth’s movie delivers a lasting bloodlust feeling for die hard horror fans to savor repeatedly over even after the scene ends, while Hollow’s sadly splashes about and focus’ on the beauty of actress.
This horror film will not be everyone’s fountain drink, to drink down in everlasting enjoyment rather for the select fans that seek the slow development of a story portrayed through the characters, as is done with many dramas, the story holds the boundaries and direction, but the actors progress the action for the viewer. The practical effects work very well, and deliver all the cues when required, after all it is a movie about Elizabeth Bathory, with different variation of more gothic suspense and horror delights for not just the average fan of the genre.