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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review: Blood Sabbath (1972)

What do you get when you infuse a tender love story with equal parts witchcraft, folklore and sixties psychedelia?  Well if Brianne Murphy's Blood Sabbath is any indication, you get one seriously heady brew of horror, exploitation - and yes, if you can believe it - even some inklings of romanticism.  Those wiggidy-wild seventies, I tell you what!

The fun begins with an ex-Vietnam vet named David roaming the countryside with an acoustic guitar and a head-full of bad war memories while some sappy psychedelic folk-rock provides the soundtrack.  A hand painted combi-van full of lively hippies passes by and they stop to seemingly offer David a beer, but instead a chick showers him in suds and flashes her tits before the gang tear off down the road laughing hysterically.

That night while camping out in the woods, David is awoken by an adjacent orgy comprised of the vanload of vagrants from earlier.  Four naked girls decide to turn their attentions to the slumbering soldier, but he runs from their front lines faster than a cheetah on crack; amusingly knocking himself out in the process.  I'm guessing all the day and night continuity issues during this sequence likely hindered his perception.

The next morning he is revived by a water nymph named Yyalah who quickly retreats back into the lake from whence she came, barely speaking a word.  A weirded and bearded fellow named Lonzo takes David in, offers food and shelter, and admonishes him when he's told of the strange encounter earlier.  After a day passes without finding his object of amphibious affection, the young man questions whether or not the woman was even real.  He does eventually encounter the water-wench again and she takes him to a cavern where they make out, look adoringly into each other's eyes and are deviously spied on from above.  Yyalah suddenly tells David their love simply can't be and leaves him blue-balled and distraught.

The snooping sorceress turns out to be Alotta, Queen of Witches (played by Dyanne Thorne of 'Ilsa' infamy) and she confronts Lonzo expressing her intent to make this new found man-meat one of her minion.  Lonzo tells Alotta to back off, he will supply her with a virgin child as he has done every year, but nothing else.  (Every man has his limits, you know.)  Determined, Alotta proceeds to perform a topless love-spell to win David's affections exclaiming, "no rest shall he know until beside me he lies!"

Lonzo then invites David into the village for the annual harvest celebration.  He overhears a conversation between Lonzo and the local padre and learns of the villager's dependence on sacrifices to insure the success of their crops.  The young man also angers the cleric by asking him how to rid himself of his soul.  Now riled, the peeved priest visits Alotta to insist on stopping the rituals; however, she tempts him with booze and naked neophytes to buy herself time and puts a curse on him.

Meanwhile David, still yearning for that perfect soul-less existence, asks Lonzo if he can take the place of the latest sacrifice and offer his unwanted soul to Alotta, to which the old man hesitantly agrees.  Now as we all know, good rarely comes to those who use their soul as a bargaining chip, and this tale is no different.  Well I take that back, it is pretty different, but I think you know what I'm saying.

For fear of spoiling all the fun I'll spare little more detail, but rest assured that there are plenty of dramatics left to keep you neatly enough amused.  There's the actual "Blood Sabbath" to attend; lots more naked witchyness to ogle over; "Alotta dancing" in a groovy sequence where the wicked witch glamours herself as Yyalah; a few corny montages; some awkward line readings; some welcome sprinklings of violence; and even a possessed combi-van.  I did mention all the naked witchyness, right?

Yes, Blood Sabbath offers a little something for everyone, most especially for those who enjoy deliciously bad films chock full of camp and circumstance.  Give up your soul and have fun with it. 

and the awards go to:
*Anthony Geary as David, for frustratingly kicking over a pail of water and complaining to Lonzo" I want her so much!" and "my world has no meaning without her!" after only encountering his nautical nymph ever so briefly.

*Susan Damante as Yyalah, for explaining to her newly beloved "you are of the land and I am of the sea, you have a soul and I do not" and "if I were to love you completely I'd die."

*Sam Gilman (pictured) who turns in the most earnest performance here as Lonzo, telling David forebodingly "this place was never meant to be your destination.  This place means only loneliness."

*and Dyanne Thorne as Alotta, Queen of the Witches, who seems to excel at playing strong-minded devious women with strange accents and a penchant for shedding clothing.
The lady has some moves, too.

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