Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bloodlust (1961)

"Bloodlust!" is a 1961 film from director Ralph Brooke, who is telling his own twisted version of Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game." The popular story of a big game hunter hunting men was first film in 1932 with Joel McRae and Fay Wray being hunted by Leslie Banks, and before Brooke got around to his version was remade as "A Game of Death" in 1945, again as "The Most Dangerous Game" but as a 7-minute short in 1953, and as "Run for the Sun" in 1956 with Richard Widmark and Trevor Howard.

In the post-"Bloodlust!" era we have had "Woman Hunt" in 1975, "Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity" in 1987, "Deadly Prey" in 1988, and "Lethal Woman" in 1990, as suddenly the story take a decided turn from violence to sex. Suddenly, "Bloodlust!" looks pretty good in comparison, especially if you are into campy remakes.  The story begins with a pair of couples out for a charter boat ride (Oh, no: this film anticipates "Gilligan's Island!"). The captain spots an island he has never seen before and promptly passes out. So his passengers decide to go visit the island where Johnny Randall (Robert Reed), falls into a trap. Pete Garwood (Eugene Persson), Betty Scott (June Kenney), and Jeanne Perry (Joan Lora) get Johnny out of the trap just in time to be confronted by Dr. Albert Balleau (Wilton Graff) and his gun bearers. He invites them back to his home, where stuffed animals and trophy heads are the major item of decor. He engages his visitors in the sort of polite conversation where everything has a double meaning and his guests start to have a clue. Eventually the truth is revealed: Dr. Balleau likes to hunt human beings and has a special room where he displays his trophies captured forever as they were at the moment of death.  Graff plays the part like he was Orson Welles pretending to be Vincent Price. If you like your crazy men to be totally calm, cool, and collected, then this is your guy, although the approach really wears thin. Reed is clearly the only competent actor in the bunch and I can see why being in this movie did not hurt his career as he went on to "The Brady Bunch" and then tried to live the role down in things like "Rich Man, Poor Man."

The grizzly tableaus are a pretty good touch to the general camp, and there is a scene where one of the doctor's henchmen is getting things ready for the newest tableau where the idea will turn your stomach even if the visuals do not. The common denominator between the two features on this disc is that the women in these horror films really know how to scream.  By Lawrance M. Bernabo

68 MIN

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