Fire-breathing lesbians are an inescapable staple of exploitation cinema. One doesn't have to look long before encountering bazillions of womens prison movies, featuring goose-stepping female wardens, who pay extra SPECIAL attention to their inmates. In a similar vein, there's The Blood Spattered Bride (1972, 101 minutes, aka. La Novia Ensangrentada) about a man-hating vamp who successfully awakens a young bride's repressed desires. It's a story brought to the screen by prolific Spanish writer/director Vicente Aranda, as inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu's novel, Carmilla.
The movie: Newlyweds retire to a posh hotel for their honeymoon, where the exceedingly tasty bride (Maribel Martin) immediately blinks out of consciousness and into a bodice-ripping rape fantasy. Shaken, she tells her slimy hubby (Simon Andreu) that she's not spending another minute in the hotel. So, he hastily carts her to his grim estate, complete with servants. The two immediately take to their bedroom and diddle their little hearts out. But the bride's nightmares persist. It also turns out her husband is into the rough stuff -- he likes to drag her around by her hair, before making her perform certain "acts." Only, at first, it seems she actually LIKES being manhandled. Her visions soon include a mysterious woman in white, who encourages Susan to rearrange her husband's privates with a medieval steak knife, while the two babes look soulfully into each other's eyes. After what seems like an eternity Mircalla Karstein (Alexandra Bastedo), the bride's vampiric dream gal, joins the real world when she's unearthed in one of film history's most bizarre introductions. Bond fiends will remember Ms. Bastedo from Casino Royale.
Notables: Four breasts. Six corpses. Gratuitous bush trimming. One dead fox. Hair pulling. Neck snacking. Dream analysis. Hypodermic closeup. Castration. Throat slashing. Tomb raiding. Shotgun blast to the crotch. Nekkid sand snorkeling. Dagger to the eye sockets.
Quotables: Twelve-year-old voyeur, Carol (Rosa Rodriguez), confronts Susan about the couple's sex life, "I think you like it when he hurts you." Susan belittles her horn-dog hubby, "I don't love you. I hate you! I've hated you despite myself from the first moment you touched my body." Mircalla badgers Susan with ultra-feminist mantras, "He has pierced your flesh to humiliate you! ... He has spat inside your body to enslave you!"
Time codes: A less-than-subtle visual reference of Christ's crucifixion (23:32). "No nookie for you!" (30:45). The World's Kinkiest Coffin (1:37:05).
Audio/Video: While the widescreen (1.85:1) print is in satisfactory shape, there is some digital grain, especially in darker scenes. The Dolby mono soundtrack gets the job done.
Extras: Four-page insert features an essay describing Aranda's career and a cool reproduction of the U.S. theatrical poster, complete with an admonition for theatergoers to pick up their free "Up-Chuck Cup" at the box office. The only extra on the disc is a great combo trailer for the flick and I Dismember Mama.
Final thought: The slow, plodding pace may wear thin for most, but the final act is truly shocking. Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.