“Blood Mania” (1970)
Studio: Crown International Pictures
Starring: Peter Carpenter, Maria De Aragon, Vicki Peters, Eric Allison, Alex Rocco
Directed by: Robert Vincent O’Neill
Running Time: 88 min.
Synopsis: A doctor who is blackmailed needs money fast and a woman with whom he is having an affair is willing to give him the money, but she will kill to get it for him.
This release from Crown International is actually far better than many of their other releases throughout the years. This little horror flick is not the greatest, but most of it is very entertaining, has some good to decent acting, an interesting story, and some great photography and editing in the film. Blood Mania is one of the better grindhouse films to come out of the 70’s and it is still worth a look today.
There is a great opening with a girl wearing a see-through nightie running through a dark hallway. The scene looks very psychedelic with obscure camera angles and bright colors. The piece is well-edited with quick cuts of the girl and then to a strange man stalking her. The whole thing looks like somebody’s nightmare. They even do freeze frames of the picture as the credits appear. The opening is very nicely done and sets the tone of the film.
After the very cool opening, the movie starts with a retired doctor (Eric Allison) who is dying and bedridden. His daughter, Victoria (Maria De Aragon), is taking care of him, but he is impossible to deal with and is always giving her a hard time. Victoria is also a sex-crazed nympho and tries to get some anyway she can. She even strips down and sexually assaults the pool boy. She also is hard up for her father’s doctor, Craig Cooper (Peter Carpenter), but he never gives her the time of day.
Cooper is dealing with his own problems when someone tries to blackmail him for $50,000 and threatens that if he does not get the money he will tell the authorities about his dark medical past when he used to perform abortions. After many times at trying to win Dr. Cooper’s affection, Victoria successfully seduces him. During some pillow talk, Cooper tells Victoria about his money troubles and she reassures him that she will get him the money. What Cooper does not know is that Victoria is willing to kill to get her new lover his $50,000.
The things I liked about the film were the main cast and the story. It reminded me of a Night Gallery episode and had the look and feel of one, which made sense because the film and the series were shot during the same time. Victoria even paints and has macabre works of art, which gives it that extra vibe towards Night Gallery. Other things about the film I enjoyed were the editing, which in some scenes (mostly the killing scenes) were very fast-paced and gave it a nightmarish, trippy feel that fit the early ’70’s. Also during these scenes, they used weird camera angles and fast movements.
Maria De Aragon is the stand-out performer as the sex-crazed twisted bitch, Victoria. Throughout the film you watch her start off as a stuck-up, spoiled little brat and she slowly transforms into a murderess and then to a crazed madwoman. Carpenter does a good job as Dr. Cooper and plays the role well of the cocky doctor who is a ladies’ man, but you later feel sorry for Cooper, who gets stuck in a situation that he did not plan into. De Aragon and Carpenter also star together in Love Me Like I Do, which came out the same year as Blood Mania. De Aragon also plays a nympho in that film and co-stars with Isla herself, Dyanne Thorne. Film and television veteran Alex Rocco (The Godfather, Stanley) has a small part in Blood Mania as the family’s lawyer.
The things that I did not like about the film were some of the pacing of the story. The movie had a great opening, good ending, and an interesting story, but like most Crown and other exploitation films, they have great ideas, but cannot execute them well. Blood Mania is a lot better than others, but it still falls victim to a slow pace during the middle of the film where nothing really good happens and you are just waiting for something exciting. The film often takes awhile to get going and at some points it does, but then it slows down again. If they would have cut down the boring parts it would have been an excellent film, but at an eighty-minute running time, they could not afford to cut anything out. Maybe they just should’ve filmed some better scenes or maybe it should have been a half hour Night Gallery episode.
While looking up information on the cast I discovered something cool for all you fanboys and girls out there. The beautiful Maria De Aragon plays Greedo in Star Wars. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I was surprised I never knew this and I had no idea that a woman played the part of this green alien that was sent by Jabba the Hut to kill Han Solo. De Aragon appears uncredited in the film and it is one of her last roles in a motion picture.
Blood Mania may not be the best, but it is worth checking out. I was not expecting much when I started watching it due to the track record of the studio that released it, but was pleasantly surprised. The film is a part of Grindhouse Horror Crown International DVD Box Set that also includes Stanley, Blood of Dracula’s Castle, Nightmare in Wax, Satan’s Slave, Prime Evil, and many other titles from the ’60’s up to the early ’90’s.