The Blood of Fu Manchu
An intensive elaboration of Sharp’s The Brides of Fu Manchu, subject females envenomed to “fulfill my destiny” and “destroy the enemies in our path” (cf. Bava’s Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs), with the beautiful corollary from Erle C. Kenton (House of Dracula), un sang impur...
A fatal kiss “on the lips”, an archæological expedition to “this secret city... lost for hundreds of years...”
Blindness and death for Nayland Smith, first among the nemeses.
“Between the Andes and the Mato Grosso,” a bandit kingdom not subject to Fu Manchu. “The kiss of death,” so stated. Dr. Petrie, anticipating Herzog, carries along with him a thermos of tea in the vast jungle. “If I wasn’t an English gentleman I’d tell you what you were, you potbellied basket!”
Welles’ second-unit man, at home in South America as later Ruggero Deodato.
Robert Firsching (All Movie Guide), “entertaining, if extremely sexist.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “a series which started well, but was subsequently robbed of period flavour.”
The Castle of Fu Manchu
A diabolical liberty taken with Sharp and the Titanic “in the South Atlantic” creates the image in the prologue, “this is my destiny.”
Istanbul, minute camerawork (including the Buñuelian tilt-and-pan that shows the title dwellingplace), modern Debussyan score, Park Güell for the Anatolian Governor’s Castle...
“Possibly a derivative of opium” could cause the oceans to freeze. “Dr. Kessler, this is Dr. Petrie, Sir Denis Nayland Smith.”
“We’re old friends, we met on holiday, we fish the same river.”
“For the same fish.”
“A one-fish river!”
The impossibly-named Spanish director Jesus Franco plays Inspector Ahmet of the Turkish police and is a great one for the zoom lens collapsing and expanding forms, the tilted graveyard of Robbe-Grillet’s L’Immortelle, Hagia Sophia etc.
Ralph Thomas (Campbell’s Kingdom) lends himself to the latter image of a dam burst, “complete annihilation.”
Piers Haggard has the continuation (The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu).
TV Guide, “last and worst”. Robert Firsching (All Movie Guide), “disastrous”. The Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “fooey.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “extraordinarily tatty”.
The Bloody Judge
A piece of eloquence on “a time of plot and counterplot, a time of witchcraft, when the shadow of the executioner blots out the innocent and guilty alike.” Goya and Arthur Miller for the opening dance, understood as defiance.
The trumpets on the battlements are from Welles’ Othello. The sensuality of the Lord Chief Justice is insensibly conveyed upon his ritual entrance at the Old Bailey, “let the business of the court commence.”
“Quiet, bitches!” A Wessex witch at Newgate, caught in flagrant delight. England not Spain, less the Inquisition per se, legal and political matters (the director was a boy at the time of the Spanish Civil War).
The witch trials, accusation, torture, condemnation, execution (thus the Italian title, Il trono di fuoco, a hair’s-breadth from Mel Brooks, see also Howard Vernon as Jack Ketch), the same in Dreyer’s Day of Wrath and anybody’s Joan of Arc.
“Er, claret, my lord? A true Englishman’s wine.” Leo Genn as Wessex. Another Chauvelin, the Lord High Justice, “the devil in red robes.”
Defeat of Monmouth. For the women awaiting trial at Taunton, cf. Fernandez’ Soy puro mexicano. The Bloody Assizes.
The bloody Lord High Chancellor. Flight of James II, reign of William and Mary.
Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “British cut-rate costume melodrama... a talkie with a lot of posturing and little action” (as Night of the Blood Monster). Robert Firsching (All Movie Guide), “difficult to evaluate”.
Les Nuits de Dracula
The Hun. “The blood of Attila is in these veins.”
Count Dracula in English. Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht, recalling Siodmak.
The plain ordinary retailing of these horrors, woods full of terrible cries and running wolves, the dweller in the castle who has no reflection, claustral realm of spiders and bats.
Jonathan Harker’s dream of three pallid lovelies overridden by their master and called away by a baby’s screams.
Dr. Seward, Van Helsing’s clinic, Renfield.
A marvelously exact detailing of the narrative proceeds from this reading. In hoc signo vinces...
“Mina my dear, whilst the Count lives, time and space have little meaning. We can only pray.”
Time Out, “yet the movie emerges as a soberly intelligent reappraisal of a potent and oft-misrepresented mythology.” Robert Firsching (All Movie Guide), “plodding and dull.”