Monday, May 4, 2015

Malatesa's Carnival of Blood (1973)

CWL's rule of movies #1: the more grandiose the movie title, the more crushing your disappointment when you see the actual movie.  Malatesta's Carnival of Blood is a title that makes genre hopes soar, so I guessed at the outset that this would  make me cringe hard or cry.  And I was partially right, but for different reasons!

Ordinarily, this is the section of the review where a plot summary would live, but Malatesta is so steeped in the last gasps of psychedelia that it's hard to argue it even has a plot.  This is my best effort: a carnival provides employment to a girl named Vena (GET IT GET IT??), whose family lives in a trailer.  The carnival is rife with weirdos, like a French dwarf and a transsexual psychic, and what's even weirder is the body count which it accumulates.  The Tunnel of Love becomes a Tunnel of Death and what have you.  Shockingly, the authorities don't suspect anything untoward, nor does the fact that the carnival is managed by MR. BLOOD tip anyone off.

So, okay, there are monsters in the carnival who dine on flesh because "no one ever told them eating human flesh was bad."  In their spare time, they screen old silent films and the appearance of Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame pull back the curtain on the film's artsier aspirations.  Malatesta could be described as a Jodorowsky film on a Ray Dennis Steckler budget.  You can see the muses dancing in scenes that blend German expressionism with pieces of Hot Wheels tracks.  But you can also see ghouls sliding around on mail packaging and aluminum foil for far too long.  Nothing happens and it happens a lot.

It all makes very little sense and seems to get more and more incomprehensible as the movie progresses.  Symbols start populating the scenes, as undisguised as newborns in Eden.  Bad actors act badly and can't interpret a script that often seems barely there.  

Obscurity has granted this one a legendary reputation, but it's not especially enjoyable.  It's not even the best psychedelic horror of 1973 that starts with an "M" because Messiah of Evil.  Some of the ideas are promising, but practically none of them are brought to fruition and this thing is almost totally rough edges.  

**1/2

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