Blood Bath (1966) (2-Disc Limited Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman
Starring: Sid Haig, Lori Saunders, Marissa Mathes, William Campbell
Rated: UR/Region AB/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Arrow Video
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.
This Blood Bath release from Arrow Video is one of the more fascinating and strangest releases I’ve seen in years. While Blood Bath, a Jack Hill film, or perhaps better called a Jack Hill creation, is the main course of the release it isn’t the only thing you get here. This set contains a movie and three other movies that spawned from that movie. The first movie that started it all was a movie called Operation Titian. It is basically a crime film that tells a tale of a stolen painting and with some twists and turns along the way. It is a bit slow in spots but a very solid movie that builds tension. It might be the overall best movie here if it wasn’t for the shilling of the location in some humorous scenes. The next movie on the disc is another version of Operation Titian that has been morphed into Portrait in Terror. It is re-edited version of Portrait in Terror made more for American audiences and comes with some new scenes shot. One of which spoils the twist at the end and drags out what was better left up in the air in the original version. I still liked both but I can see where some might not dig them overall. They are still really good film, or at least Operation Titian is. They look good enough here as well, but some scenes in Operation Titian looks a bit awkward due to the standard edition stuff added into the mix to complete the movie.
This brings us to the main course, Blood Bath. Which are the results of what happens when Roger Corman told Jack Hill to make a movie using scenes from Operation Titian to make a whole other movie. Jack got the lead of Operation Titian, William Campbell, and turns the painter angle from Operation Titian into a whole weird vampire angle for Blood Bath. With the addition of all new scenes and cast members, I can see why everyone would want this release for Blood Bath. It is the more pure horror result of footage used in Operation Titian. With a stand-in and some really clever work from Jack Hill, it becomes a really moody and atmospheric vampire flick to everyone’s credit. Still, I’d say it fills a little off and is a little short. But don’t worry, Jack Hill would also agree. I do still think it packs some very cool scenes and has a very eerie tone that is matched well with the little footage they did end up using from Operation Titian. The last of the movies you get here is Track of the Vampire. This is basically the TV version of Blood Bath with more minutes added in by another direction for TV showings. This one really awkwardly drags things out and makes the movie a bit dull, but is still a really interesting watch. Blood Bath itself looks good in HD but varies in quality with the footage of Titian used. If you want a nice and interesting way to make sense of all the chaos, we have an extra here that is a visual essay by Tim Lucas. This documentary of sorts tells the whole long tale of how one movie ended up making four movies in total and it tops off what is a really awesome set from Arrow.
– 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
Quality of Transfer (Operation Titian): 92%
Quality of Transfer (Portrait in Terror): 92%
Quality of Transfer (Blood Bath): 94%
Quality of Transfer (Track of the Vampire): 93%