SLASHER MONTH: Blood Bath (1966)

While on vacation in Europe, Roger Corman kept working. He made a $20,000 deal to distribute an as-yet unproduced Yugoslavian Eurospy — Eastern Eurospy? — called Operation: Titian.

Part of the deal was that William Campbell and Patrick Magee would have roles. Plus, Corman would be involved so that the film made sense to Americans, installing Francis Ford Coppola as script supervisor. However, the results were confusing and unreleasable, but they did air on TV in a reduced form as Portrait In Terror.

A year or so later, Corman asked Jack Hill to see if he could fix the film. Instead of a spy movie, new footage would be added that made this movie about an artist who kills his models and uses their bodies as sculptures, which sounds a lot like Color Me Blood Red or Corman’s A Bucket of Blood. Campbell asked for more money to come back for these reshoots, which went over with Corman about as well as you’d think. Now called Blood Bath, Corman still disliked the end product.

Enter Stephanie Rothman, who would one day make The Student Nurses and The Velvet Vampire. Now, the antagonist would become a vampire at night and as Campbell wouldn’t come back for free, the character is played by someone else when he transforms at night. This is what American-International Pictures released in theaters along with Curtis Harrington’s Queen of Blood, which Saunders co-produced.

Wait — there’s more. Corman added six minutes of Linda Saunders from Petticoat Junction dancing on a beach and retitled the movie Track of the Vampire.

Anyways, Antonio Sordi is the name of the bad guy and he basically kills women so that he can cover them in wax. Since his vampire and human appearances are so different, he’s never been caught until he falls for Dorian (Saunders), who is an avant garde dancer. There are some wild scenes where she keeps trying to get him to go all the way and that means murder for him, so he keeps running away. Finally, he gives in to his bloodlust — thinking that she’s Meliza, a long-lost love whose breakup drove him to this life (they’re both played by Saunders, so cut him some slack). It’s at that point that all of his wax figures come to life and treat him like Frank Zito.

Look for Sid Haid as a beatnik whose facial hair keeps changing due to all the reshoots and re-edits. Man, what a crazy history and a goofy film.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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