This movie is a doozy to review…not because it is a bad film, but because it’s actually four movies that were made from the same source material. Confused? You’re not alone; it took me a few minutes to map this out in my head as well. Let me try to explain.
The infamous Roger Corman started off by shooting a movie titled OPERATION TITIAN. This was done in Yugoslavia, of all places, but Corman was not happy with the end product. So, after some tweaking, re-cutting, and rescoring, the film was released as PORTRAIT IN TERROR. For some reason, two other directors jumped in a year later and added more footage, thanks to reshoots and some slick editing, which resulted in two more versions of the film: TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE, a TV-safe version of what would ultimately be the final film, BLOOD BATH.
So…four movies made from a single film. Sounds like the stuff of Hollywood legend, right? I guess you can say it is. But regardless, the fine folks at Arrow Video and MVD Distribution have crammed all four films into a two-disc Blu-ray set for our enjoyment. And while the films aren’t too shabby themselves, the engaging story behind them is enough to warrant owning this piece of cinematic history.
If you are not familiar with BLOOD BATH, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:
The films of Roger Corman are often as well-known for their behind-the-scenes stories as they are the ones unfolding on the screen. He famously made Little Shop of Horrors in just two days using sets left over from A Bucket of Blood and shot The Terror over a long weekend because bad weather prevented him from playing tennis. But none of these tales is quite so complex, or quite so extraordinary, as the making of Blood Bath.
The saga began when Corman invested in a Yugoslavian Krimi-like picture entitled Operation Titian just prior to it going into production. Insisting it be filmed in English, he sent actors William Campbell and Patrick Magee, and uncredited story editor Francis Ford Coppola (all fresh from Dementia 13), to Dubrovnik to make a US-friendly movie but wasn t satisfied with the end results. First it was re-cut and re-scored to create Portrait in Terror, a film more in line with drive-in tastes, then it was handed over to Jack Hill (Spider Baby), followed by Stephanie Rothman (Terminal Island), each undertaking reshoots that resulted in a vampire picture by the name of Blood Bath. One final twist was provided when a TV version was required, chopping scenes and adding others to create Track of the Vampire.
For this release Arrow Video has searched through the vaults to bring you all four versions of Blood Bath, newly restored from the best materials available to provide a definitive release of one of Corman s craziest ventures.
So now I have to ask myself: did I actually like the films? Eh, I’m a little on the fence. OPERATION TITIAN was good, but PORTRAIT IN TERROR was even better. But the vampire aspect didn’t really work for me. I think partly because it was such a large deviation from where the original film wanted to go. But even though I didn’t care for the latter two, they are still worthy of watching.
Each film is shot well for the most part, however you can certainly tell differences in the cinematography styles. This is very evident in the BLOOD BATH, as the old and new footage sometimes clash in their atmospheres. Does this detract from the film? Not as a whole, but some of it is glaringly obvious.
The acting in each film is pretty bad, I have to confess. I can’t decide if it’s the actors themselves or the dialogue that makes it so, but I’ve seen better line deliveries in some high school productions.
Still, I can’t downplay the entertainment factor here. The films are all entertaining in some form or fashion, although I can’t say they have any true horror cred. Quirky and strange, yes, but no real scares or bigtime gore.
Even so, I enjoyed this collection, and fans of Corman’s work will definitely want to snatch this one up. In addition to the films, it comes with several Special Edition features, including:
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Limited Edition collection of the complete Blood Bath
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of four versions of the film: Operation Titian, Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire
• Brand new 2K restorations of Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire from original film materials
• Brand new reconstruction of Operation Titian using original film materials and standard definition inserts
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all four versions
• The Trouble with Titian Revisited – a brand new visual essay in which Tim Lucas returns to (and updates) his three-part Video Watchdog feature to examine the convoluted production history of Blood Bath and its multiple versions
• Bathing in Blood with Sid Haig – a new interview with the actor, recorded exclusively for this release
• Outtakes from Track of the Vampire, scanned from original film materials
• Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artworks
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
• Limited edition booklet containing new writing on the film and its cast by Peter Stanfield, Anthony Nield, Vic Pratt and Cullen Gallagher