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  Blood Sabbath Catching Their Death
Year: 1972
Director: Brianne Murphy
Stars: Anthony Geary, Susan Damante, Sam Gilman, Steve Gravers, Dyanne Thorne, Susan Landis, Samra Harvey, Mary Lind, Felice Darvey, Ramona Timberlake, Francesca Pelli, Jane Tsentas, Lynn Harris, Kathy Hilton, Terri Johnson, Jane Swiskay, Uschi Digard
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: David (Anthony Geary) is a wandering Vietnam War veteran who is spending his days roaming around the countryside with his guitar for company. He is not aversed to meeting people, but has his reservations especially when they're of the variety of the bunch of hippies who pulled up next to him in their van, offered him a cold beer then proceeded to spray it all over him from the can, driving off laughing. Maybe David is better off on his own, and when he sets up a makeshift camp for himself under a bush, falling asleep by the small fire, he is interrupted by more hippies, this time four naked women who jump him and try to strip him of his trousers until he struggles free and makes good his escape...

Blood Sabbath is a mere footnote in the history of exploitation cinema, but it did contain one point of interest: here was a nudity and violence-filled drive-in flick directed by a woman. She was Brianne Murphy, who by all accounts led a colourful life, an ex-circus performer who got the movie bug and became a jack of all trades in a selection of low budget works, graduating to cinematography, one of the first females to do so, and many gigs for television as a result. She only helmed two films, over twenty years apart, and this was the more intriguing of the two since it captured something of the horror movie made on the cheap of the day that you just don't get now.

Certainly if anyone filmed a story about a returned war veteran getting involved with a cult of devil worshippers today, with its strong hippy influence you would be more likely to see it as one of those retro efforts which were harking back to yesteryear - this was in no way contemporary in any way, shape or form. Adding to the cachet with those who like to unearth examples of vintage trash was one of its stars, the one playing the leader of the cult who is after David's soul (not David Soul, that's something entirely different), as she was Dyanne Thorne, best known as the tortuous (so to speak) Ilsa in a series of grotty sex and violence grindhouse staples of the seventies, and here playing the villain as well thanks to her rather arch features.

Blood Sabbath is most celebrated for Thorne's topless dance frenzy which arrives when the hapless David is hallucinating, but then again the whole thing might be a hallucination, it was that kind of movie which owed a debt to the sort of supernatural yarn able to be explained away as a near-death vision or somesuch. Geary would be most recognisable for his lengthy stint on U.S. soap General Hospital should you have followed that, and if you did you may be interested that he took his clothes off here as well - they were all at it in what began to resemble one of those nudist works which were an excuse to provide as much nakedness as possible without actually mentioning sex. David's main concern, once he's escaped those women, is someone he genuinely does like, and she's Yyalah, yes, that's the way it's spelt in the credits.

Yyalah was played by Susan Damante in a huge blonde wig and what looks like the garb of a Roman goddess; it's never explained what she's doing in the river by the forest, but she has a tendency to swim up to Dave and captivate him as a possible wood nymph or somesuch. Whatever, the only way she and this bloke can have the relationship he dearly wishes for is for him to lose his soul since she doesn't have one herself, which is why it's handy that Dyanne's Alotta (seriously, that's what the character is called in anticipation of Austin Powers) happens to be in the vicinity with her legion of cultists (well, about ten of them) who we're none too clear what they're dedicating their lives to, but we know it's not good if they practice child sacrifice as David's crusty new pal Lonzo (Sam Gilman) claims. One meeting with a stentorian priest (Steve Gravers) later, and our protagonist has arranged to swap places for the sacrifice with a little girl, and so on with the vaguely Satanic, always undressed, somewhat counterculture-inflected but oddly naive nonsense. A relic, really. Spaced out music by Les Baxter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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