Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975)

          Like George Romero’s disturbing Martin (1978), this low-budget shocker is a vampire movie without vampires. Starring the elegantly pretty Cristina Ferrare, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary has as many weaknesses as it does strengths. On the positive side, the movie is mildly erotic and mildly spooky, with slick photography and evocative locations. On the minus side, the acting is sterile, the pacing is far too slow, and director Juan López Moctezuma lacks the breadth of visual imagination needed to put something like this across. Some viewers will lose interest partway through Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary because so much time elapses between exciting scenes, and it’s true that much of Ferrare’s appeal stems from her fashion-model beauty. Just as her performance suggests a world of emotional experience rather than properly expressing those emotions, the movie as a whole feels like a rough draft. Nonetheless, the film travels an interesting path by forcing viewers to ask whether the lead character is a supernatural monster or merely disturbed.
          Set in Mexico, the picture follows the travels of a painter named Mary (Ferrare), who has a nasty habit of murdering the men and women she meets. Specifically, she seduces them, weakens them with spiked drinks, then removes a hairpin and punctures their throats so she can drink their blood. Yet Mary feels conflicted about what she does, and she’s haunted by visions/memories of the mystery man (John Carradine) who triggered her murderous impulses. The particulars of the plot are neither clear nor significant, but the gist is that Mary falls for Ben (David Young) and tries to end her lethal cycle so she can be with him. Meanwhile, the mystery man chases Mary across Mexico, setting the stage for a final confrontation.
          In its best moments, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary has something approaching an art-movie vibe. For instance, a long lesbian seduction scene features mirrors, striking costumes, and deliberate pacing. In its worst moments, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary feels like drive-in schlock. One crude sequence features Mary writhing atop a lover/victim while the camera pointlessly cuts back and forth between Mary’s face and objects d’art around the room. Carradine’s appearance is especially problematic. In most scenes, his character is obviously portrayed by a stunt double. Moreover, the costuming of Carradine’s character recalls that of the old pulp character the Shadow, right down to the high collars and wide-brimmed hat. In sum, those who avoid this movie aren’t missing much—but those who give it a chance will discover an offbeat experience.

Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary: FUNKY

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