A young woman is driving alongside a lake. She has an accident and the car plunges into the water. Her body is then possessed by the spirit of an 18th-century witch who was killed by local villagers, and is bent on avenging herself on them...
It's always interesting to see how filmmakers mold horror and comedy together. Most of the time, it doesn't work well, but ever so often, it strikes gold. You could say 'Shaun of the Dead', 'The Lost Boys', and 'Tucker and Dale vs. Evil' are a few examples of striking gold. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, certain filmmakers tried their hand at this genre combination, which were mostly Italian or British horror films with tons of slapstick comedy riddled throughout. In 1966, a young filmmaker by the name of Michael Reeves (known for his Vincent Price collaboration on 'Witchfinder General'), made a sloppy yet fun movie titled 'Il Lago Di Satana' or 'The She Beast', or as in this case 'Revenge of the Blood Beast'.
Unfortunately, Reeves died shortly after this film at the young age of 25. Written by Reeves and a friend, it looks like they took stories they heard from Dracula and witches and combined the two and made 'Revenge of the Blood Beast', but without Vampires. Go figure. Reeves stages his violent horror scenes very well with all the necessary carnage, blood, and oozing practical makeup effects, however the story meanders away from time to time, which makes for a shoddy story plot. The film begins a few hundred years ago, where a witch named Vardella is found out, captured by the villagers, and tortured to death. Unfortunately, the villagers forgot to lift the curse off Vardella, thus dooming all of the villagers and their offspring for future generations to be cursed as well.
Cut to present day, or as in this case - 1966, where a newlywed couple named Philip and Veronica are trekking through Transylvania for their honeymoon. They come across a motel where a man named Groper (Yes, Groper) takes them in. Soon though, the couple figures out that Groper is a pervert who isn't above raping, watching porn in public, or spying on his guest's more intimate activities. In an effort to leave, Philip and Veronica end up crashing their car into the lake, which just happens to be the same lake where the witch Vardella was killed, this awakening her spirit, and possessing Veronica. Philip enlists the help of a local drunk man named Von Helsing, who seems to know a lot about vampires and witches. Insert a cat and mouse chase with police and the witch, and you have yourself an old fashioned monster chase movie.
It's hard not laugh at most of the cheesy effects, dialogue, and action scenes, as they aren't done with a whole lot of perfection or really any style. It all comes across as comical, however there are some decent scenes of horror with the witch. I'm surprised the guys at 'Mystery Science Theatre 3000' or 'RiffTrax' never had their way with this film, because it would have been glorious. 'Revenge of the Blood Beast' is a good glimpse into the 1960's horror-comedy genre with a fun set up and decent effects. You won't be scared, you won't see vampires, but you'll definitely laugh and enjoy yourself.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Revenge of the Blood Beast' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Raro Video and is Region A Locked. There is no digital download here, however there is a six page booklet with information on the film. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve that oddly enough, has an image from a completely different film on it.
'Revenge of the Blood Beast' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Surprisingly, this video presentation is quite good. Raro Video has done a great job with this transfer on almost every aspect. Detail is sharp and vivid, particularly in closeups that reveal the gooey and gory makeup of the witch where you'll see every age mark and rusty wrinkle and boil on her face. Individual hairs stand out nicely too.
Wider shots look decent too, but can be a bit soft at times. Colors are well saturated, especially with the red blood and yellow vehicle in the film. Other than that, this film has a somewhat cold color palette. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There was some mild jutter and debris scattered about, but it was nothing major, leaving this video presentation with good marks.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix and does NOT get the job done. I don't even know what happened here. The sound is fairly soft, causing me to up the volume to a much higher level than I normally would listen to. When I did finally hear the dialogue and sound effects without straining, I heard quite a bit of hiss, pops, cracks, and shrills. It was almost like listening to an old 78' record that hadn't been cleaned in 50 years.
The score and sound effects were vague and softer than normal as well, which is surprising since the video above was so good. Needless to say, this was not a good audio presentation. In addition, the packaging says this has both the English and Italian tracks. That's not the case. Only the English is present.
There was a previous DVD release of the film some years ago where there was a great audio commentary track. That is not imported here.
A Bloody Journey to Italy (HD, 29 Mins.) - This is an audio interview with actress Barbara Steele who plays Veronica in the film. She talks about her life, career, and honestly opens up about Hollywood and working with different people. Funny enough, she doesn't discuss this movie. Who would?
Booklet - Here is a six page booklet with information on the film.
'Revenge of the Blood Beast' is a great glimpse into this 1960's time capsule of low-budget filmmaking in the horror-comedy genre. There are some decent effects and a fun story, even if it wanders off its own path from time to time. The video presentation is quite good for a film this old, but the audio presentation is not up to par. It's unfortunate that the previous commentary track is not included here, but there is an audio interview with the lead actress. All in all, I'd say wait for a 'MST3K' or 'RiffTrax' version. If you can't wait, give it a Rent.