Jun 4, 2013

Bloodbath (1979)




During his less than personally flattering, if not 'legendary' and artistically fruitful “tormented maniac” period during the 1970s after the abject personal, artistic, and financial failure of his film The Last Movie (1971), burned out yet still bodacious Hollywood hophead Dennis Hopper gave a number of less accessible and just damn strange performances in movies all around the world, including Mad Dog Morgan (1976), Tracks (1976), and The American Friend (1977), but undoubtedly the most wildly idiosyncratic and seemingly nonsensical film he ever appeared in was the Spanish production Bloodbath (1979) aka Las flores del vicio aka The Sky Is Falling directed by Italian-Canadian auteur Silvio Narizzano (Die! Die! My Darling!, Senza ragione aka Redneck). Directed by a relatively unknown director who mostly worked in British television and earned his greatest hit with the then risqué and sassy swinging 60's London-based romantic comedy Georgy Girl (1966), Bloodbath is certainly not the sort of film one would expect from a for-hire TV hack, though one must certainly credit screenwriters Gonzalo Suárez (The Exquisite Cadaver, Don Juan in Hell) and Win Wells (The Call of the Wild, The Greek Tycoon), who also happened to be the director’s live-in boyfriend (they shared a place in Mojácar, in Spain’s Andalusia, which was also the location of the film), for the film’s brazenly bizarro nature and somewhat esoteric themes. A spoof of Pier Paolo Pasolini and other leftist European filmmakers' obsession with the ‘noble savage’ meets a lampoon of Dennis Hopper’s drug-addled stupor played by none other than herr Hopper himself, Bloodbath rather facetiously yet ingeniously pits innately superstitious peasants of the quasi-medieval Spanish sort against a high-strung middle-aged hippie heroin addict and a variety of other eccentric expatriates, including a washed-up (quite literally, even making her first appearance in the film on the beach) Hollywood diva, a bitter and emotionally brutal Brit WWII vet, and a flaming fag with an unhealthy fetish for dark black Amerikkkan meat. A hallucinatory horror show for posturing peace-loving hippie bastards and a delightfully dark comedy of the Buñuel-esque beatnik-beating sort for happy hippie-haters and oddball European arthouse fans alike, Bloodbath features a delightfully deranged dichotomy between poor peasants that are totally untainted by modernity and technology and the debauched cosmopolitan Wasp ‘Westerners’ that pose the very potential deleterious threat of irrevocably tainting them. Described by Penthouse pussy magazine of all sources as follows, “This is Dennis Hopper at his best! A fantastic performance in an amazing movie,” Bloodbath is undoubtedly a work that deserves just as much cult notoriety as Mad Dog Morgan (1976), Out of the Blue (1980), River's Edge (1986), and Blue Velvet (1986), but is just so unrelentingly bizarre, aesthetically schizophrenic, and hard-to-find (I, myself, secured a seemingly bootleg VHS with a horrendous transfer) to ever develop a serious cult following as a rare quasi-gonzo (or more like 'anti-gonzo') work that actually does not suck as a totally unclassifiable celluloid work that is like early Curtis Harrington meets Alberto Cavallone (Blue Movie, Man, Woman and Beast) as directed by a man that seems to only have hatred and contempt for the counter-culture generation of “peace and love” and other great lies. 



 Chicken (Dennis Hopper) is a totally debauched hippie who is addicted to heroin and bad poetry and both of these terrible vices are effecting his acid-addled brain, but not as much as the backward native locals of the beachside Spanish village he is staying at, who are waging a magic war against him. Naturally, Chicken likes eggs, so his Negro girlfriend surprises him with some, but after shooting some good junk, he cracks them over his thoughtful jigaboo gal’s head and tells her, “Okay nigger. You start singing now. You start singing now...Mammy's little baby loves shortnin' shortnin', Mammy's little baby loves shortnin' bread,” which she naturally does without hesitation as a totally spooked spook. Chicken, a proud community college graduate who was brought up a Southern Baptist but later converted to libertinism as a victim of the counter-culture age, also has a number of hallucinations that spark hysteria in his terribly tortured pseudo-artistic soul, including from his religious extremist “momma,” which are sparked by the black magic-practicing peasants of the archaic village he lives in. After one hell of a night of attacks via Spanish sorcery and heroin, Chicken is found half-dead on a beach by a fallen Hollywood diva named “Treasure” (Carroll Baker, who also starred in Giant (1956) with Hopper), who brings him back to her humble abode and tells him about her rise and fall as a one-time Tinseltown superstar. Treasure describes how she received her stage name and career after screwing a grotesque Hebraic studio head with a Yiddish accent at the ripe age of 16-years-old. While Treasure used to do three movies a year and have the telephones ringing nonstop due to her popularity, now she is a dried up old hag of the hyper horny and fanatically narcissistic sort in the spirit of Gloria Swanson from Sunset Boulevard (1950) who has her own younger ‘kept man’ and dreams hopelessly of the big executives of Hollywood once again ringing her on the telly. A disgruntled and patently pretentious yet secretly salacious British World World II veteran named Terence (fallen British leading man Richard Todd) and his “bitch” (as he calls her) dipsomaniac dipshit wife Heather (Faith Brook), a suicidal chick whose mental instability is fueled by her love of alcohol, are also exiled on the Spanish beach. One also cannot forget a queenish homo named Allen (played by Bloodbath screenwriter/Narizzano’s lover Win Wells), a flamer and borderline transvestite that Treasure describes as her “favorite fag,” who is also another expatriate and he has a thing for Negro men, especially those that whip him like a white slave.  Indeed, all of these individuals seem to have found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, but one cannot feel that fate of the fatal sort has brought them together for one last big party.


While Bloodbath is essentially a curious collection of oftentimes surreal and sometimes campy montages of nihilistic hedonism of the self-annihilating sort as especially emphasized in a quote by English metaphysical poet John Donne during the beginning of the film, “But I do nothing upon myself…and yet I am mine own Executioner,” the major ‘plot’ of Narizzano’s work takes the form of all the major forsaken Wasp expatriate characters beginning new romantic relationships with random and mysterious seemingly supernatural strangers who will ultimately lead them to their tragic yet inevitable and fitting ends. Reluctant race-mixer Chicken is happy to hook up with a young blonde Spanish babe named Buenaventura (Inma de Santis) that he tells “I wanna rape you!” (and she tells him he should) and even falls in love in an 'old fashion' sort of way, Treasure hooks up with a young and tanned beefcake who thankfully has never seen one of her horrible movies, Terence drops his bitchy wife and gets with a young ditzy Asian girl with ostensibly dubious motives, and glittery gay boy Allen finds himself a big black buck of the charming yet ultimately nefarious sort. A pesky little blond boy who is listed in the film's credits as “Mongoloid child” also appears throughout Bloodbath and is quite similar to the rather annoying androgynous kid from The Day of the Locust (1975), especially in that he meets a grizzly end. Of course, not a single character survives in a movie entitled Bloodbath



 Featuring blood-soaked white-boy-loving black broads hanging in pieces like swine in a cadaverous peasant slaughterhouse, Dennis Hopper overdosing on heroin after too many Oedipal complex inspired nightmares and flashbacks, fags being whipped by Negroes and gored to death by phantom bulls that drive their horns in horny homos, degenerate divas dying in an orgy of ringing telephones and a luxurious swimming pool, and proud anti-kraut war vets going to their deaths via firing squad quite proudly in dedication to their love for oriental girls, Bloodbath is a macabre yet inexplicably merry metaphysical horror flick of the spacey surrealist sort where the self-fulfilling deaths of overripe Westerns is merely sped up by pernicious peasants who have had enough of their infectious and dispiriting degeneracy. As the black buck tells his effeminate victim when he begins to whip him, “it's what you want” and, indeed, the masochistic man-woman embraces the brutality from the S&M spiritual negro to the point where it costs him his rather worthless life. Indeed, Bloodbath is certainly a bummer, but also side-splitting and singularly ‘seductive’ in its cynical surrealism and flimflam melodramatics. Like its cast of vice-ridden anti-heroes, Bloodbath was doomed from the beginning as a sort of gonzo giallo of the insanely idiosyncratic sort that will only appeal to the most marginal of audiences. Indeed, while this film might interest hippie and beatnik types with its scenes of counter-culture god Dennis Hopper absurdly stating “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted” in anti-tribute to Hassan-i Sabbah/William S. Burroughs, it is quite unmistakable that director Silvio Narizzano is portraying such frivolous flower child swill in a rather negative light, hence why the original title of the film, “Las flores del vicio,” translates to “flowers of vice” in English.  After all, hippie types always talk about 'karma' but they never stop to think of the consequences of their own senseless and self-absorbed hedonism as if 'free love' and hard drugs don't have consequences, but they might if they watch Bloodbath, a celluloid slap across the face for deadheads and other deluded degenerates. In a sense, not unlike the supremely underrated Hopper directed/starring flick Out of the Blue (1980), Bloodbath is the perfect antidote to the naïve hippie romanticism of Easy Rider (1969). Additionally, you will not find a more drugged-out and degenerate Dennis Hopper than in Bloodbath, a work featuring the then-quasi-psychotic star covered in stinking sweat and slime and high out of his mind like a scared little child (who literally calls for his “momma”) that totally iconoclastically shatters his seemingly legendary status as a counter-culture god, especially when his character states during a bad trip, “Looking in the mirror has fucked me up!” A twilight of the Anglo-American degenerates, Bloodbath is a wildly whimsical and anti-wanton wanton remainder why the Occident and its former colonies have now become cultural graveyard and colonies for the Third World. 



-Ty E

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