Tuesday, 7 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: The Blood Spattered Bride (aka La Novia Ensangrentada) (1972)

The Blood Spattered Bride (aka La Novia Ensangrentada) (1972)
Director: Vicente Aranda
Starring: Simon Andreu, Maribel Martin and Alexandra Bastedo
Running Time: 100 min

Just as Hammer's "Karnstein" trilogy was wrapping up with "Twins of Evil", Spanish director Vicente Aranda (The Exquisite Cadaver, Forbidden Love) decides to open up the Karnstein coffin again and release his take on the "Carmilla".  Pre-dating Bram Stoker's Dracula, the vampire tale of "Carmilla", I was looking forward to seeing a more up to date version of this story. Hey, 1972 isn't the early 19th century, although it's starting to feel that way.

On their way home from their wedding, a young bride and her mature husband stop at a motel on their way to their honeymoon.  The bride, Susan goes up to their room, while her husband goes to get the bags.  While she waits for him, she has a extremely violent fantasy about being raped by an intruder.  When her husband finally arrives, she refuses to stay at this hotel.
  Sooooo, they just go on to his family mansion and the staff welcomes them both home. The husband rushes Susan off to the bedroom to finally have some "alone" time.  They spend the next few days like most newly married couples do, in the bedroom, then exploring the grounds of the estate and making love everywhere. The weird thing is, Susan keeps seeing this blonde woman everywhere.  Susan doesn't know who she is or if she is following her but she tries not to make a thing about it.  Unfortunately the honeymoon comes to an end rather quickly, after the husband tries to rape Susan's mouth.  She gets upset and leaves him hanging in the forest.
  After that things change and the romance doesn't seem to be there.  Susan is now not only seeing that blonde woman on the grounds but in her dreams.  There the blonde woman gives Susan a dagger and together the go to town in a very erotic/gruesome stab fest on Susan's husband.  When she wakes up, Susan finds the dagger in her bed and warns her husband about the dream.  He gets his doctor friend to examine her and she is diagnosed with nerves and told that she'll get over it.
  Life goes on and Susan notices that all the pictures in the mansion are of men, then asks where the  pictures of the women are.  The daughter of the maid tells her that they are in the basement.  They go to investigate and discover a picture of a woman with rings on backwards and the face cut out.  The husband startles the pair in the basement and tell Susan that this was Mircalla Karnstein, who murdered his great uncle for trying/suggesting unspeakable sexual acts on their wedding night.  After that, Susan continues to have the dreams and the dagger keeps mysteriously keeps reappearing, no matter how hard the husband hides it.
  Eventually, the husband goes to the beach to bury it and discovers a woman, Carmilla wearing nothing but a snorkel mask and her rings on backwards buried in the sand.  He brings her home and Susan recognizes her as the girl of her dreams, I mean, in her dreams.  Anyway, Susan and Carmilla become besties and like to venture off into the woods together at night because what they do is secret.  After Carmilla leaves the husband discovers bite marks on Susan's neck and somehow eventually realizes that she is in fact Mircalla Karnstein!  I think it was the rings!  Can the husband save himself and his wife or has that ship sailed and he now must escape the blood sucking, not quite what he was hoping for, duo!


  This was pretty good and had the same kind of pacing and look that I've seen in giallo films.  This is a lot different from Hammer's take on the story, it's more modern but at the same time, the relationship between Carmilla and Susan is more implied and the audience still isn't sure until the end what Carmilla's true intentions are with Susan.  Whether she is just a vessel and blood line or if there is a romance blooming.  It's weird, because it almost feels like a coming of age story for this young woman, where she discovers her sexuality but with a lot of violence.
  And there is are some terrific gory scenes in this film that are fun to watch.  The dream sequence, as mentioned before does, believe it or not has a serious rhythmic sexual feeling to the killing.  I needed a cigarette after watching it.  However this is the only one like this, but still the other deaths are quite memorable and worth waiting for.


  Like most European horror films at this time, the pacing is much different and slower.  Not that it's a bad thing but it may seem like it's taking a bit to get to horror but it's just creating atmosphere and building tension so at the end, there is a flood of terror.  Also, Mircalla/Carmilla is a different kind of vampire because she hangs out during the day sometimes and sometimes she sleeps during the day.  She is the modern woman vampire of 1972 and really can have it all.


  This is a great film that takes another interesting take on the vampire mythos.  It blends together vampirism, erotica and touches on a number of different themes that could be looked into further, deeper and harder, if you had the time and inclination to.  An underrated classic that would be a welcome discovery to any fan of the horror genre.

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