October Horrorshow: Blood Sabbath, or, My Soul for Some Strange

Blood Sabbath movie posterWhat a bucket of sleaze. Blood Sabbath, the 1972 exploitation horror flick from screenwriter William A. Bairn and director Brianne Murphy, is exactly the kind of movie that gets the pious all worked up. Gratuitous nudity only begins to describe the amount of flesh in this movie. This is one of those drive-in classics packed full, from start to finish, with butts, boobs, and bush. Add in witchcraft, and one would be hard-pressed to find an R-rated film more capable of moral corruption. It’s spectacular.

The film follows Vietnam War vet David (Anthony Geary). He’s having a rough time with what he experienced in the war, and has gone on a walkabout that takes him, I think, into Mexico. The film isn’t clear on that. While there, he is accosted in the night by three naked partiers and chased through the woods. He trips and falls, hitting his head on a rock and falling unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself being cared for by a buxom young lady named Yyala (Susan Damante). She’s a water spirit, or something similar, and the two fall in love with each other. But, David can’t get past first base because, according to Yyala, she has no soul, and it’s forbidden for her to be with someone who still has theirs. So, David makes it his mission to rid himself of his soul so he can get laid.

This is really the plot. This was made into a movie that is not porn. In fact, this flick is something of a half-measure. There is enough nudity in this film for it to be a defining factor, but hardly any sex. Murphy and company seemed content for the mere appearance of the female form to be sufficiently titillating for the grindhouse movie goer of the early ’70s. It makes for quite a funny relic of cinema’s past.

Anyway, David has a soul to get rid of. Luckily for him, there is a coven of witches nearby that can oblige. Led by Alotta (Dyanne Thorne), the coven has been in something of a symbiotic relationship with a nearby village. Once a year, the village delivers a young girl to the coven. Alotta takes the young girl’s soul and she becomes one of the witches. In return, Alotta uses her magic to guarantee a bountiful harvest for the villagers. This sounds like just the sort of thing David is looking for, so he asks for Alotta to take his soul instead of the latest villager’s. She agrees, and David finally gets laid. But, there are consequences to no longer having a soul, as David finds out.

There really isn’t much reason to go further into the plot. It exists, but only because a movie is supposed to have some form of narrative. Really, this flick is about the boobs. They are ample and plentiful — an inexhaustible resource for Murphy to use. Besides Alotta, the coven of witches rarely appear clothed, and even she bares it all in the film’s climax.

Besides being vulgar, this flick looks like it cost about five bucks to make. The star of the film, Geary, has the kind of awful, incompetent performance that is as endearing as it is bad. When he gets frustrated at his inability to get laid and lashes out, it makes for shitty gold on a par with the cheap eroticism of the coven.

Of note is the original score by Les Baxter. Heavy on drums and bass, it fits this film as much as any soundtrack from one of Hollywood’s greats. I’m not saying it’s a great score, but it’s perfect for this particular film, and also any film starring John Holmes or Uschi Digard (whose boobs make an uncredited cameo early on). It’s a score raised to a spectacular level of kitsch by the passage of time.

Everything about this film is bad, and also strangely gripping. Blood Sabbath is one of the most hilarious shitty movies I’ve ever seen, if only because the filmmakers had the stones to make it. Oh, the ’70s, that glorious decade when American prudishness took a temporary backseat. In this day and age, with our heads full of politics, this movie would be an outrage. The Twitter army would be up in arms over its production for at least a week — the high side of what Twitter can muster. Brianne Murphy would be portrayed as a defector from her gender, crafting a valueless film where women’s clothes exist only to be removed. For the modern viewer, then, I suggest letting one’s mind be free of the lessons we’ve learned, and all the baggage, and let oneself be carried away on a wave of breasts. Despite being a bottom-dweller of a film, in just about all facets of its execution, Blood Sabbath makes it into the top quarter of the Watchability Index, displacing Turkey Shoot at #82.

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