Cinematic Titanic: Blood of the Vampires (DVD)

Can’t wait for the spinoff, Cinematic Lusitania.

“Aw, cripes. I’m getting married, dad’s dying, mom’s a vampire—what a crappy day. Well, back to the party. Hope the pizza rolls aren’t all gone.”

The Cinematic Titanic crew, made up of roughly half of the best brains who gave us Mystery Science Theater 3000, is back with another round of DVDs in which they take on a slew of bad movies, including this unfortunate attempt at a vampire flick.

Blood of the Vampires was made in the Philippines in the ’60s, but is set in Mexico in the ’20s. While you try to wrap your head around that, here’s what passes for the plot: On the eve of his wedding, Eduardo Escodero learns a frightening fact from his dying father. Eduardo’s mom is not dead, as he was raised to believe, but undead. She’s a vampire, trapped in a coffin under the house. After a late night encounter with her, Eduardo ends up vamped as well. He proceeds to make with the bloodsucking, destroying his family in the process.

As most folks know by now, Cinematic Titanic consists of former MST3K-ers Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, TV’s Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein. Their silhouettes riff on movies on platforms to the sides of the screen, rather than in theater seats, and there are fewer and shorter host segments, but other than that, it’s the basic MST3K formula. The fictional back story isn’t as clear—something about an “institute”—but that’s OK, since poking fun at the movie is what we’re here for, and they know it.

I’ve only seen a couple of the CT discs that have been released so far, and this one doesn’t seem to reach the comedic heights of the others. The blame for that can’t really be placed on our heroic riffers, though, as this movie is one dreary, plodding excuse for a horror flick. You wouldn’t think incestuous Mexican/Filipino vampires could be this tedious, but they certainly are. Then this tedium is filtered to us, the viewers, through some nightmarishly bad dubbing, and we’ve got a movie that’s just plain unwatchable. Still, the CT folks give it their best. My favorite wisecracks were about the men’s ultra-thin moustaches, how the father only seemed to be dying in some scenes and not all of them, and how the statues in the background emoted better than the actors.

Years ago, I read that the MST3K producers had to turn away a lot of B-movies, because so many of them contained trashy elements not appropriate for television. This is certainly true of Blood of the Vampires. Any hardcore violence is conveniently hidden by stuff like a well-placed tree (!), but some more prurient material is present, especially an incredibly icky relationship between our main vamp character and his younger sister. Far worse, though, is that a number of actors are in blackface, playing the, ugh, household servants. Joel and the gang don’t hesitate to make jokes about how awful and horrible and wrong this is, but it’s still offensive.

The picture quality is rough, filled with grain and haze. The CT silhouettes are sharp and clear, though, so I’m guessing they did the best with what they had to work with in regards to the original film. This includes the audio. As noted above, the dubbing is excruciatingly bad, not just in term of acting, but in that there’s this low hum accompanying the voices every time someone speaks. The CT voices, though, remain easy to hear, and they’re the ones we really care about. The only extras are trailers for other Cinematic Titanic releases.

The Verdict

This Titanic doesn’t sink. As for Blood of the Vampires, it—you guessed it—sucks.

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