Movie Review: Night of the Blood Monster (1970) – Blue Underground 4k/Blu-ray combo

April 9, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

It’s the 1600’s and things are looking rather shitty for local witches ‘round ol’ London-town thanks to Judge Jeffreys (the legendary Sir Christopher Lee (who has appeared in so many things, I’m just going to do this) who hates them as much as he does rebels against the King… which is to say a lot.

I mean sure he’s still willing to fuck the witches (this is a Jess Franco film after all), but he’s just as willing to burn them alive (doubly so if they fail to put out).

His presence makes life truly a pain in the ass for young Harry Selton (Hans Haas Jr.), a rebel engaged to a witch named Mary (Franco regular Maria Rohm, Marquis de Sade’s Justine, Venus in Furs to name a few), and when they are incarcerated the Joltin’ Judge may face a full-on revolution!

Brimming with a large number of costumed extras, battle sequences, and some ornate sets, it’s obvious that long-time Franco producer Harry Alan Towers was able to raise a nice chunk of dough to bring this one to the screen.

And even though this is a film with it’s heart at times planted firmly in the crotch of it’s pants, Lee makes the entire thing seem way more lofty than it actually is (or I think would even want to be)… though admittedly his various wigs work against his gravitas a tad… and the rest of the cast is rather solid as well and features turns from Leo Genn (Quo Vadis, 1956’s Moby Dick) and Howard Vernon (a Franco mainstay who starred in such fare as 1971’s She Killed in Ecstasy before going on to appear in 1981’s absolutely batshit Nazi zombie pic, Zombie Lake).

Additionally, the title Night of the Blood Monster is a complete load of bullshit as there is no “Blood Monster” in the film (even though some one-sheets may lead you to believe otherwise), and in fact the film used to also go by the title of The Bloody Judge which is really accurate, but probably didn’t put enough asses in seats.

The transfer utilized here is nothing short of astounding and features eye-popping color (those vivid reds and verdant greens), a stunningly clear image that truly makes the often  gorgeous cinematography from Manuel Merino (who went on to work on Paul Naschy’s Horror Rises from the Tomb, as well as other Franco flicks such as Vampyros Lesbos and The Vengeance of Doctor Mabuse) shine, and deep, rich blacks as dark as Jeffreys’ heart!

As for special features, the 4K Disc contains no fewer than three audio commentaries from Film Historians Troy Howarth & Nathaniel Thompson, Kim Newman & Barry Forshaw, and David Flint & Adrian Smith respectively. All are definitely worth a listen and when taken as a whole provide an indispensable source of knowledge concerning the film’s production and place in Franco’s lengthy filmography.

Also included is a Blu-ray edition of the film featuring the aforementioned commentary tracks, as well as archival interview footage featuring Franco and Lee, as well as interviews with Author/Franco expert Stephen Thrower (in which he discusses the film’s production and history in fascinating detail), and Filmmaker Alan Brikinshaw (as well as a returning Thrower) in which the output of Producer Towers is put under the microscope.

Additionally we get a host of deleted/alternate scenes from various International cuts of the picture, a small collection of trailers and TV spots, and still galleries (featuring posters, promotional materials, lobby cards, stills (both black & white and in color, and home video/soundtrack advertising material).

Sumptuous, well-acted… and of course a bit sleazy; Night of the Blood Monster is Franco done on a budget seldom seen for one of the maestro’s productions… and this edition makes every vivid, lurid frame of the film shine!


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