My love for movies has taken me on an endless search for films of the obscure, the greasy, and out of print. There are few things more gratifying than searching the the dusty stacks of new & used stores, or digging into one of the remaining video stores left in the region to come across a film that and that has gone undiscovered. Films that hits me on a level wondering, “How have I made it this far without this film in my life.” I shouldn’t say every movie I want to discuss is from the fringe, just that this is what I watched on my proverbial summer vacation. I savor going to all the art house theaters any chance I get, however, being able to really dig into something that I’ve been searching for, while creating my own Saturday night double feature from my cozy room is one of my favorite pastimes. I hope to bring some of these films to light while chronicling my own efforts in locating them, while giving you avid film hunters out there a lead on where you might procure a viewing, or better yet obtain a copy of your own.
First on the list is Robert O’Neil’s thriller from 1970 entitled Blood Mania starring Maria De Aragon. I found myself pleasantly surprised with this film right away. The Vaseline smeared camera lens opening sells you to the fact that you’re about to embark on a greasy amyl fueled tale of 70’s fun! The opening, you will find, has absolutely no relevance to the actual film. It’s more just like the opening band is setting the stage. Blood Mania, the first film directed by Robert Vincent O’Neil, distributed by Crown pictures, is a lurid, sensationalized, and implausible horror story and poor acting. It’s like watching a fucked up Lifetime movie except with a lot of drugged out nude scenes in place of the plot.
An ailing millionaire is being cared for by his daughter Victoria and Dr. Cooper, a man with a sordid history of providing abortions who has his passed come back to haunt him. Victoria tries her best to be in some form of undress as much as possible throughout the film, spending a good amount of effort seducing every cock that crosses her path. Almost. Alex Rocco makes an appearance, and thank Christ he doesn’t even loosen his tie. Dr. Cooper tries his best to resist Vicki as well until a blackmailer eager to expose his abortion providing past has Dr. Cooper rethinking tapping that 70’s bush, and help Vicki finish off her dad once and for all in exchange for $50,000 to silence his situation with Larry “the blackmailer.” Of course his name is fucking Larry! He hits the old man with a fatal dose of amyl nitrate and we are provided with a startling image as the man bolts upright right before death takes him.
As the lawyer (Rocco) reads off the will, Vicki is hit with the crushing details that she will not be inheriting any of her father’s wealth but will instead be put on a paltry allowance. Vicki loses her fucking mind here in a hilarious display of a screaming, face pulling tantrum, while Dr. Cooper takes into account that his cash reward was just yanked from him faster than Vicki can crack a nitrate cartridge. So obviously the right thing to do would to be to seduce the gorgeous, newly rich blond sister Gail. But, Vicki wants that scumbag doctor sex to herself! As her “mania” takes off she bludgeons her sister with a statue and the doctor and Vicki get right back to stripping off her macramé dress as Blood Mania slow burns to a pleasingly grim ending.
Blood Mania is exactly the type of film trash I love to discover, ripe with amoral characters, soft core sex, muddy stoned out camera effects and a sordid script. The atmosphere of some of these 70s low budget films had a unique tone that we just no longer see today that make films like these so enjoyable to watch. I came across this one in one of my public domain box set purchases from Millcreek Entertainment. Located on the “Drive-In Cult Classic” collection, Millcreek does a pretty good transfer given their source is decent and Blood Mania looks pretty great in comparison to some other films that get compressed onto these double sided disks. I pick up one of these sets wherever I see them since they always contain some cut choices in them. Half Price Books always seems to have a flow of these sets coming through that you can pick up for some cheap seedy thrills. Not too hard to find this one at all, it’s just a matter of knowing it even exists! With that, I end day one of what I watched on my summer vacation!!
…And then I hung out in front of the video store.