Monday, June 17, 2013

The Blood Spattered Bride (1972)

I’ve been hooked on The Blood Spattered Bride for quite some time now, one of those films that always seems to call me back. Every now and then a feeling of Déjà vu will leave me longing to return to that old family mansion that radiates with ancestral significance and a haunting history of mariticide. The men of this house seem to die young. Nearly every generation for two-hundred years, the wives seem ambivalently intent on murdering their husbands shortly after their weddings, a curse that began when Mircalla Karnstein joined the family and was entombed with the dagger she murdered her husband with on their wedding night. This curse led to a type of stigma towards the women of the family, with the result that all the family portraits of the women be buried away in the cellar like some kind of shameful family secret.

Still in their wedding clothes, the current master (Simón Andreu) and his new young bride, Susan (Maribel Martín of A Bell from Hell), will be arriving to the aforementioned cursed house to spend their honeymoon, deep in the forested countryside. He hasn’t been to this place for years, but the servants are still employed, and everything is made up for a pleasant stay for the newlyweds. Shortly after the consummation, and the loss of Susan’s virginity, a ghostly bride begins to visit Susan in her nightmares, offering her an undulated dagger, imploring her to use it on her husband for defiling her.

Spain’s take on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic novella, Carmilla, is a damn fine Eurocult horror with some beautifully evil ambiance (no surprise there) and rather twisted sexuality (no surprise either). It’s very well made and doesn’t feel cheap enough to call exploitation, even if it is, and it actually succeeds at being pretty creepy. I’m hesitant to call this "erotically charged" horror, since I feel that something erotic should be capable of sexual arousal, but the sexual situations are twisted and awry, to say the least. The rape scene, awkwardly placed at the beginning, gives it a bad initial taste; the relationship between Susan and her chauvinist husband is not romantic, and the meetings between Susan and Carmilla feel more tragic than kinky since Susan is seduced and dominated and more or less a poor victim of the female vamp. It’s obvious this one is trying to disturb and unease rather than supply cheap sexual thrills.