Robert R. Favorite
Review by David Carter
Posted on 02 October 2008
Source Regal Video VHS
Categories 31 Days of Horror V
Sometimes Death is the Easy Way Out
A young couple lies in bed listening to a rock record, their faces obscured by the opening credits. The needle skips the groove and the boy clumsily rolls out of bed to fix it, knocking aside an end table in the process and discovering a secret compartment in the wall. Inside is a box containing a journal written by the boy’s uncle, Carlos DeLorca. The girl soon goads him into overcoming his hesitation about reading the diary, and he begins to learn the true story of his ancestors.
The remainder of the film is an extended flashback, told from Carlos’ perspective, in which the history of the “DeLorca curse” is revealed. We learn that Carlos’s grandfather initially brought the curse onto the family—a failed attempt at contacting the spirit world ultimately transforming him into a vampire, complete with Lugosi-style cape. Desperate to help his brother, who has inherited the vampirism, Carlos visits spiritualist Madame VonKirst, and obtains detailed instructions for completing the arcane rites necessary to lift the curse’s effects on Juan.
Before he can begin the preparations, however, the film shifts perspectives abruptly to follow another character. (Apparently Carlos used the third-person omniscient narrative style in his diary.) Coincidentally - or perhaps not - a blonde named Yvonne arrives in the same city that the DeLorcas live in and receives an invitation to tour their mansion. Yvonne, along with three other women seemingly chosen at random by Perro, Carlos’ mute servant, heard the rumors that the reclusive Juan DeLorca is as handsome as he is wealthy, and so decided it would be worth their while to join the DeLorca brothers for dinner.
Soon enough, the complicated purification ritual begins to unfold. First, Juan drugs Yvonne, compelling her and two of the other girls to stay the night in the DeLorca mansion. The fourth girl attempts to excuse herself, but instead ends up tied to an altar in the basement, her body an essential element in a rite to ensure that Juan impregnates Yvonne. Unfortunately for the DeLorcas, the girl’s boyfriend finds his way into the mansion, and is able to stop the ceremony. However, by doing so, he unleashes something far more sinister—a hairy green demon.
Back upstairs, the cape-wearing Juan has finished with Yvonne and has helped himself to the other girls, killing one and turning the other into a vampire. Carlos, meanwhile, dispatches the demon, and then inters Juan and the female vampire in coffins to protect the now-pregnant Yvonne. It seems Carlos must perform yet another ritual to cure Yvonne’s child of vampirism before it is born to ensure that the DeLorca curse is broken forever. Locking Yvonne in her room, Carlos summons VonKirst to ensure that everything goes as planned. Upon seeing VonKirst, however, Yvonne begins to believe that something stronger than mere chance has brought her to the DeLorcas and her current fate. This deception coupled with the emotional strain of carrying a potentially cursed vampire baby drives her to suicide—ironically just as Carlos and VonKirst learn that the curse has been broken.
The Brides Wore Blood makes use of a time-tested technique of drive-in - and later home video - marketing—using an exciting title that is only tangentially related to the film itself. Drive-in staple I Eat Your Skin, for instance, features no skin eating, and video store shelf-warmer Woodchipper Massacre is actually a teen comedy. And in this film, there are no bloody wedding ceremonies to speak of, just an anemic interpretation of Borowczyk’s La Bete with the eroticism removed and replaced by the supernatural.
In addition to its deceiving title, the film is defined by its glaring inconsistencies, the majority of these originating from the framing story. First and foremost, the young man’s claims - that Carlos looked after him and his father - are contradicted by the conclusion of the film that sees Yvonne dead and her child presumably dying with her. Additionally, the large diary Carlos is seen writing in somehow has shrunk to a small booklet by the time it is found by the young man. Rather than being a continuity issue, however, these contradictions simply point toward the introductory sequence being added to a preexisting film. Several other aspects of the film lend credence to this notion, particularly the fact that the young couple speaks in a thick southern drawl that is absent from any of the other characters.
Though these errors are distracting, the main body of the film is perfectly acceptable seventies’ horror. The ancient curse plot line in particular is well executed. Things do get a bit silly, however, with the onset of the vampirism storyline, especially Carlos’ grandfather dressing up like a low-rent Dracula. And there is one particularly cringe inducing scene where Carlos injects the bound girl with a paralyzing agent. The injection is shown in close-up and it appears to be an authentic injection rather than a special effect. A similar technique was used in other low budget horrors of the period (see Night of the Bloody Apes for a prime example) and the poor quality of the other effects in the film leads me to believe that this is the case here as well. As it stands, however, the injection and Yvonne’s final psychedelic freak out are the film’s only inspired visual moments; The Brides Wore Blood is firmly in the “turn on the camera and act in front of it” school of cinematography.
The Brides Wore Blood does have a certain charm, but it would likely have disappointed videophiles scanning the shelves for entertainment. Director Robert R. Favorite comes off as a marginally less competent version of Texan grindhouse director SF Brownrigg. Brownrigg’s films are now considered classics, though; the same consideration isn’t likely for Favorite.
Sometimes Death is The Easy Way Out
The Dead Don’t Die1975
The Brides Wore Blood1972
Girl in Room 2A1973
Nude for Satan1974
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare1987
Brides of the Beast1968
Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye1973
The Curse of Bigfoot1976
Dark Night of the Scarecrow1981
Moon in Scorpio1987
The Legend of Hell House1973
Grave of the Vampire1974
Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake1975
Attack of the Beast Creatures1985
Humanoids from the Deep1980