Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is the anti-Disneyland where mass slaughter is taking place, via decapitation or injuries of another random nature, and the blood pours like tomato soup; and those disposing of the bodies come across like Mr Wu’s pigs in human form meet Barbershop Quartet meet Carols From King’s.
Staff are disappearing at quite a rate as a result, as is any sense of a story. There’s no discernable plot, but that doesn’t matter too much when it hangs together better than some films which still claim to have one. It’s got Hervé Villechaize, aka Tattoo from Fantasy Island who’d shout “Ze plane! Ze plane!” at the start of every episode, plus a load of apparent zombies/cannibals running about. There’s also the mysterious Malatesta (Daniel Dietrich), a man who is barely seen, so most people only see his business manager, Mr Blood (Jerome Dempsey).
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is one of those slasher flicks where people are bumped off one by one, but will anyone survive till the end and get to expose Malatesta’s nefarious business practices? And since he’s killing off staff, how does he explain to the high turnover to the agency?
The film is the first of three making up Arrow’s American Horror Project Vol.1, a collection of movies from, as the billing states, the unsung heroes of American terror. It comes complete with an introduction (3:41) from Stephen Thrower, author and co-curator of the American Horror Project, where he confirms this is the debut Blu-ray release for this movie and how it has been difficult to track down over the years until the director got involved in putting it out on DVD.
Note: The film is a 15-certificate, but the boxset is rated 18 overall.
The film is presented in the original 1.85 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and, for a film that’s 43 years old, the print is exceptionally fantastic. Very little in the way of any print defects, and that’s even when watching on a 50″ Panasonic plasma TV.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio (mono) and it won’t terrify you as much as some of the bad acting, but there are no issues with it.
Taken from the Collector’s booklet about the video and audio transfer:
- “Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono sound.
The director’s own 35mm reference print was scanned in 2K resolution at OCN Digital, USA. Kodak Digital Ice was used to remove instances of dirt and debris during scanning. Grading was performed on the Baselight grading system at Deluxe Restoration, London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, light scratches and other forms of film damage were removed or improved through a combination of digital restoration tools.
The mono soundtrack was transferred directly from the 35mm reference print.”
The extras are as follows, including three new interview pieces for Arrow:
- The Secrets of Malatesta (14:06): Director Christopher Speeth spills the beans, including about the location for the dilapidated fairground, which was closed about a year later, and is now a shopping centre. I love how he tells that on arrival to the set, he threw up, then got out of the car and shot the first scene!
- Crimson Speak (11:49): Screenwriter Werner Liepolt talks about how his script was tighter than the eventual on-screen result, and how he asked the cast how they’d like to bump people off.
- Malatesta’s Underground (10:10): Art directors Richard Stange and Alan Johnson talk about their contribution to the bizarre set design of the amusement park’s basement.
- Outtakes (2:59): This is more a case of unused footage/deleted/alternate clips than ‘gag reel’-type outtakes, which is what the word normally infers. That said, a lot of it was used in the film anyway.
- Gallery: 38 images, mostly featuring on-set stills.
- Reversible sleeve: featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil.
- Audio commentary: with movie critic Richard Harland Smith.
The package also comes complete with American Horror Project Journal Volume I, a limited edition 60-page booklet which, for the whole set, comprises of new writings from Stephen Thrower (American Horror Project: The Return of the Exploitation Independents); Kim Newman (All the Fun of the Fair: Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), Kier-La Janisse (“A Goddamn American Saint”: The Perversion of Perfection in The Witch Who Came from the Sea) and Brian Albright (Motherhood, Metaphysics, Mississippi, and The Premonition).
Subtitles are available in English, the main menu features clips from the film set to the carnival-like theme (which will enter your head and NEVER leave), and the chapters are the usual bog-standard 12.
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is available as part of the American Horror Project Vol.1 out now on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack Limited Edition, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
The three films in this boxset are:
Running time: 74 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: February 22nd 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio (Mono)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Christopher Speeth
Producers: Richard Grosser and Walker Stuart
Screenplay: Werner Liepolt
Vena: Janine Carazo
Blood: Jerome Dempsey
Malatesta: Daniel Dietrich
Sonja: Lenny Baker
Bobo: Hervé Villechaize
Sticker: William Preston
Mr Norris: Paul Hostetler
Mrs Norris: Betsy Henn
Kit: Chris Thomas
Johnny: Paul Townsend
Bean: Tom Markus
Lucky: Sebastian Stuart
Winston: James Lambert
Leading Ghoul: Rebecca Stuart
Mr Davis: Jim McCrane
Mrs Davis: Gloria Salmansohn
Toby Davis: Karen Salmansohn
State Trooper: Tom Dorff
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.