Saturday, 4 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: The Ghastly Ones (aka Blood Rites) (1968)

The Ghastly Ones (aka Blood Rites) (1968)
Director: Andy Milligan
Starring: Veronica Radburn, Maggie Rogers, and Hal Borske
Running Time: 72 min

 This is another title from the UK's infamous Video Nasty list, unfortunately I'm not as familiar with writer/director Andy Milligan as I should be after looking through his assortment of titles.  According to IMDB, he has an number of great sounding schlock horror films that would be right my alley.  

  A couple is spending a romantic day on a secluded island.  They are having lunch and a quick romp in the wood, when a killer jumps out of nowhere and hacks them to pieces.  Cut to credits.
  After the opening credits, the movie then focuses on three sister's Veronica, Victoria and Elizabeth and their husbands, their lives and how they have been summoned to their lawyers office in New York for the reading of the will of their mysterious and reclusive father.  After a lot of chatty chat nonsense, we eventually get to the office and the lawyer tells them that they will all split the inheritance but they must stay in their family home on the secluded island for a couple nights to claim their prize.  The couples agree and the lawyer tells them that he will drive them to the boat and then meet them on the island in 3 days.
  When they arrive on the island, they are met by the house staff Ruth, Martha and a hunchback simpleton named Colin.  The sisters talk of old times with the help and then notice that Colin has stopped and is trying to eat a live rabbit. Colin!  When they get to the house, they unpack, have supper and head up to bed.  That evening people start disappearing and in the morning are found dead!  The remaining people are now trapped and don't know what to do because there is no way off the island until the lawyer arrives!  Will the sisters make it through the night and claim their inheritance or will this blood thirsty killer put an end to this family outing?

  At first, I was really impressed with how director Andy Milligan got down to business right away with an over the top style butchering of the first couple.  It was far more graphic than I was expecting and I was really hoping this would set the tone for the film.  Unfortunately, it then drifts into the sister's story and spends too much time with the ladies in their see through nightgowns talking with there husbands about money, travel expenses and god knows what else.  It pulls itself back together somewhat when they finally get to the island.  There are some very graphic  and well done scenes of murder and with such a low budget film, you can see where they put the money.

  I was actually surprised at how bad the camera work was in this and was reminded of what my old camera instructor used to tell us all the time, "Use a Tripod".  The camera is all over the place at times and a lot of scenes look like they end with the camera person, taking the camera off his shoulder, which in fact the editor should be hiding. There are also times if you listen real close, I think you can hear Milligan giving the actors instruction at some point.  These issues again were probably due to budget with Milligan wearing so many hats on the production.
  Also, he seemed to try and balance the film with titillating scenes.  There a are a lot of dialogue in the bedroom with his actresses wearing revealing nighties.  It's funny because there isn't any nudity, thank goodness, but there are some very unflattering love scenes.  As well as an awkward scene with one of the husbands and his gay brother, that implies some past tryst between them that is weird and unnecessary.  The story didn't need all this nonsense and I think Milligan would have been better off to stay focus on the gore.

 Anyway, this isn't the worst film that I've seen and it's got a lot of good B..., maybe C film stuff going for it.  Again, it has a lot of good death scenes that you will probably dig and if you like bad films then there is plenty of absurd things that will make you laugh.  This isn't as Ghastly as it could be.

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