Thursday, August 27, 2015

Carnival of Blood (1970)

If nothing else, the rotten horror picture Carnival of Blood has one of the strangest opening salvos you’ll ever encounter. Dialogue scenes featuring two equally unpleasant couples are intercut with the peculiar image of a woman’s head emerging through a hole in some sort of velvet table cover. While a song plays on the soundtrack and credits appear, the woman recites dialogue that isn’t heard. The onslaught concludes with a quick shot of someone else’s head getting chopped in half with a cleaver. Say what? Once the story kicks in, it doesn’t make much more sense than the credits sequence. While a murder spree unfolds on the Coney Island boardwalk, ambitious assistant district attorney Dan (Martin Barolsky) enlists his fiancée, Laura (Judith Resnick), to act as bait for the killer so he can make his career by solving the case. Because, as we all know, DA’s and homicide detectives have exactly the same job. As the confusing and turgid Dan/Laura storyline plays out, incompetent writer-director Leonard Kirtman also shows the goings-on at a particular Coney Island carnival booth, where unassuming Tom (Earle Edgerton) works alongside his deformed and mentally underdeveloped assistant, Gimpy (played by future Rocky costar Burt Young, billed here as “John Harris”). The movie shifts awkwardly between the investigation, cheaply rendered gore scenes (lots of plucking entrails from victims’ bodies), and tiresome vignettes set at the booth, where Tom and Gimpy serve odious customers like the woman who demands free throws and unearned prizes. A good half of this wretched movie is out of focus and/or underexposed, and even the material that’s photographed correctly is boring or distasteful or both. At times, the flick nears that special so-bad-it’s-good place, simply because every single aspect of Carnival of Blood is pathetic. But if the best a movie can offer is Burt Young wearing tacky makeup and acting like a violent imbecile, how good can the experience get, whether taken ironically or straight?

Carnival of Blood: SQUARE

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