Friday, September 8, 2017

Blood Bath (1976)

Aping the style of horror anthologies from British production companies, this cheap and dull American compendium matches a forgettable framing device with equally uninteresting vignettes. In the framing sequences, a suave actor rumored to have made a deal with the devil for success in movies gathers several friends for dinner, and they swap spooky stories. Those stories comprise the vignettes. In the first story, a perfectionist murderer makes a deadly mistake while planting a time bomb. In the second story, a soul brother returns from the afterlife to haunt the usurious landlord who evicted him while the soul brother was a mortal. And in the third story, which feels as if it was airlifted in from an entirely different movie, a shifty martial-arts master exploits students by charging exorbitant fees for teaching a secret combat method. While there’s virtually nothing to recommend here, since Blood Bath is interminably boring for most of its running time, the sequence with the soul brother at least has some humor, as when the beleaguered ghost whines about all the paperwork he had to complete in Hell before receiving permission to haunt the landlord. The cast is strictly low-rent, though attentive viewers will spot a young Doris Roberts. As for nominal leading man Harve Presnell, who plays the movie star/dinner host, he enjoyed a respectable if unspectacular career on Broadway and in movies, often showcasing his rich singing voice. Arguably his best-known screen role was that of the aggrieved patriarch in Fargo (1996). One assumes that Presnell did not count among the highlights of his screen career the opening scene of this picture, during which his character marries a demon while the devil, portrayed by a dude wearing silly-looking horns on his forehead, stands nearby and cackles.

Blood Bath: LAME


Unknown said...

In defense of Harve Presnell:

First off, he was in Fargo, the original theatrical film.
He was William H. Macy's father-in-law ("Here's your million dollars! Where's my damn daughter?")

Before that, Harve Presnell had major roles in two of the last Hollywood musicals: The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Paint Your Wagon.

That latter was interesting, because Presnell's role had to be written for him: they needed someone to sing "They Call The Wind Maria", because Clint Eastwood couldn't carry a tune in a forklift. (Presnell got the best notices of anybody in Paint Your Wagon just for that ...).

When movie musicals died as a genre, Harve Presnell went back to Broadway.
He did this picture between Broadway shows and soap operas, the only show biz options in New York at that time, but for the very occasional indie flick.

Fortunately, along came Annie, which required Presnell to shave his head; when his hair didn't grow back, he went into character acting - and the movie Fargo, which effectively kickstarted a career resurgence.

But for his early death, Harve Presnell would likely be working still ...

By Peter Hanson said...

I botched Presnell's bio, no question. Must have gotten my wires crossed and confused him with another actor. Went back, checked some facts, and rewrote my remarks. Thanks for catching the error and hipping me to his accomplishments.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Harve Presnell's magnificent rendition of They Call the Wind Maria in Paint Your Wagon is also a fine performance--watch his emoting as he sings. I never tire of watching the clip on YouTube. He should've been given the lead in that film.

Guy Callaway said...

What, no love for Harve in 'When The Boys Meet The Girls'??