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  Bloodbath at the House of Death All Done In The Worst Possible Taste
Year: 1984
Director: Ray Cameron
Stars: Kenny Everett, Pamela Stephenson, Vincent Price, Gareth Hunt, Don Warrington, John Fortune, Sheila Steafel, John Stephen Hill, Cleo Rocos, Graham Stark, Pat Ashton, David Lodge, Davilia David, Debbie Linden, Tim Barrett, Gordon Rollings, Barry Cryer
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in August 1975, late one evening, Headstone Manor, a stately home which doubled as a businessman's retreat and summer school for girls, was subjected to a crime that made it notorious in the annals of infamy. That night, a group of cowled figures assembled outside wielding weapons and marched inside, whereupon they set about killing off the inhabitants, eighteen of them, in a variety of ways. No one was ever arrested for the murders, but now, almost ten years later, a strange amount of radiation has been picked up at the site, and a collection of paranormal investigators led by Dr Lukas Mandeville (Kenny Everett) assemble there...

The much-missed Everett was a huge hit on British radio and television from the sixties onwards with his wacky, anything goes humour and boundless invention, and on T.V. he had been assisted by his writing partners Ray Cameron and Barry Cryer. As with the similarly poorly-received Morons from Outer Space, what had been a success on the small screen was decided to be just the thing for the big screen, and the three-man creative team assembled a group of reliable comic talents, mainly familiar from their television work, to bring this horror spoof to life.

While you could not really make a case for Bloodbath being as unfairly treated as Morons had been, it was not the complete disaster that many would have you believe. The main problem was that Everett and company did not make any concessions from translating their humour to a larger arena, so that the scenes which would fit comfortably into the sketch show format are by far the funniest, and everything else that attempts to build up reasonable plot and characters falls at the first hurdle. If you accept that it's only the more elaborate gags that have nothing to do with the rest of the story, such as it is, are the only bits that make you giggle, then you might have fun with this.

Among the cast is Vincent Price, coasting on his sinister man reputation so much that his character doesn't have a name, he's simply called, erm, "Sinister Man", and surprisingly Cameron and Cryer don't write any scenes that pair him and Everett - in fact, Price might as well have been in a different film. It is his coven leader who assembles the locals into a monk-cowled fighting force, but considering what eventually happens to them you wonder why he bothered. Sad to say, the narrative is the most shocking thing about Bloodbath, as if they thought up a collection of gags and didn't bother to come up with even the most arbitrary of frameworks for them.

So investigators Gareth Hunt and Don Warrington are actually lovers, but this looks like a set up for a punchline that never arrives, Sheila Steafel is into S&M, but that never goes anywhere either (although she does get a neat Carrie spoof as a flashback), and Everett's regular T.V. companion Cleo Rocos is prepared for the parody of The Entity which oddly ends up being played out with second-billed Pamela Stephenson. Yet there are funny bits, such as Dr Lukas' flashback to his surgeon days where in a fit of pique he throws the guts of his patient at his guffawing medical team, and if you like groaning puns then there are plenty here to keep you occupied. Oddly, although it's not a perfect fit, Bloodbath resembles Peter Jackson's debut Bad Taste: a somewhat shapeless and gory send up with a house turning into a spaceship at the end. Music by Mark London and Mike Moran.

[The Nucleus DVD has a featurette, trailers and script as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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