Monday, April 2, 2012

THE BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE (1972)

Like the previous year's glorious DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE is an adaption of le Fanu's Carmilla, repurposed into seventies lesbian vampire horror.  BRIDE begins with a honeymooning couple, Simon Andreu as the never-named husband and Maribel Martin as his new wife Susan.  Husband regards the marriage pact as a good reason to commence violent undressing and hair-yanking sex games.  This understandably alarms the virginal Susan, who sort of softly resists until husband digs a naked woman out of the sand at the beach.


Said husband is the latest male member of a family with a storied history.  An ancestor was murdered by his new bride on their wedding night after he "tried to make her do unspeakable things."  The lady was found with the dagger beside her husband's corpse.  Her name was Mircalla and her portrait is one of many, many wife portraits kept in the basement of the Husband's manor.  The same manor to which he takes naked beach woman, who is named Carmilla.


If you are good at solving puzzles and getting to the meaning of poems, you can probably figure out what transpires.  I wouldn't say that plot is necessarily the selling point of the film, given that much of this had been explored by DAUGHTERS in 1971.  What BRIDE does well is focus on the horrors of marriage for ladies, which is especially horrible given that it was considered The Event of a lady's life, until very recently.  Gents could theoretically look forward to success in business or deciding to start an ashtray collection, as the Husband here ponders.  Girls basically got to put their finger in a ring, then get their own ring penetrated in between dish-washing sessions.  Not to get all Jezebel on you, but BRIDE conveys the entrapment and discomfort better than any horror film since Romero's SEASON OF THE WITCH.  Let's all agree that marriage sucks, everyone.


The picture's also interesting because it blatantly incorporates a lot of elements from psychology.  It opens with a quote from Plato: "The good ones are those who are content to dream what the wicked actually practice."  Freud cited that quote in an introductory lecture on psychoanalysis and it's here applied to dreams of husband-killing that run through a young wife's mind.  This movie introduced the Judith complex to me (female aggression arising from the loss of virginity, desired but also abhorrent).  I'm sure that a lot of the weird imagery derives from Freudian origins as well (birds! daggers! clocks!), although you don't have to study generally-discarded psychological theories to enjoy it.


Seventies pics tended to get weird, anyway, so even the strange things here aren't off-puttingly strange, more psychedelic and engagingly surreal.  It's admirable that BRIDE was so well-mounted and organized!  Touches of this are just perfect, like the old-tymey silent-movie horror organ blasts that show up occasionally.  And the scene in which Susan's giant bush is revealed, followed immediately by a shot of a guy trimming actual hedges.  It's also pretty groovy that art objects play such a large part throughout.  Susan is a talented artist (but a professional wife, married to a Husband who claims to not have a profession).  The art that contains previous wives are kept locked up in the basement.  There are also clocks, including an AMAZING racist one and one which houses a dagger which could itself be viewed as a fine art piece.  Plus rings (not marriage ones!)...


...and paintings that mirror lesbian tensions!


I wouldn't call BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE a great movie.  The main black mark are the parts that proceed a little too slowly (it gets a bit ponderous in the middle, like many wives, LOLOL).  I also think it trails DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS overall, but it definitely includes its own rewards and merits viewing.  I'm going to pursue more of Vicente Aranda's work based on how stylish, smart, and strong BRIDE is (just like many wives, amirite?).  Recommended.

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