Arrow Video’s latest release, Blood Bath, has a storied history. You may be surprised to discover how the footage filmed for it was stretched over four different films. Thankfully Arrow have not only included these four films, but taken a look into a very interesting production…
Blood Bath in its final form is the story of Antonio Sordi (William Campbell) who believed himself to be the reincarnation of a murderous vampire. Killing young women, he then boils them in a vat of wax, using their beauty to create his latest masterpieces which he then sells.
In Blood Bath you can see all the trademarks of a Corman horror film, but this is down to the work of Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman who worked on rewrites and re-shoots for many of the footage that had been recorded. The film in its original form was actually known as Operation Titian (Operacija Ticijan) a Yugoslavian production funded by Corman. The original version starred William Campbell as well as Patrick Magee and was a murder mystery based around the theft of a painting.
To sell Operation: Titian to an American audience it was re-edited and dubbed to become Portrait in Terror which had little success. It was after this that Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman were brought in to create a horror film, which would become Blood Bath. In this version which featured re-shoots we had the likes of Sid Haig and Jonathan Haze brought in. This was not the end of the history of the film though, as it would then would have further re-edits to be Track of the Vampire which was a TV version.
In including the four versions of Blood Bath we get to see just how the film has changed. The special features included by Arrow Video feature a feature-length visual essay by Tim Lucas, The Trouble with Titian which covers the history of the films. It is from this examination of the history that you fully understand just what happened to the film and why it was continually edited to become different versions of the film. The work done to bring these films together and examine its history feels quite extreme by Arrow Video, which adds to the quality of the release. It feels like no stone has been unturned in explaining just how Blood Bath came to be.
Looking at the film itself, Blood Bath is good, especially for Corman fans. It is also a nice addition to the wealth of films Arrow have released that include Sid Haig. After you know the films history it is interesting to watch the scenes of the film and work out what was filmed in Europe and what was obviously re-shot in America. They are easy to see, but it is admirable that the beauty of Yugoslavia was still retained. The fact that Portrait in Terror/Operation: Titian is a completely different film than Blood Bath also makes this release feel like it has more value for money.
Blood Bath as a film in itself has its flaws, and there are times it feels slightly drawn out. It does have a certain charm though, and for fans of cult horror, the film does really have a good picture quality and shines in this presentation. For film historians the wealth of information in the special features will no doubt be the highlight of this release rather than the film, but even with that in mind this is a another good release by Arrow Video.
Blood Bath is available on Blu-ray in the UK now.