Monday, May 19, 2014

"Blueblood" (1973) d/ Andrew Sinclair

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The first time I saw Ollie Reed, in Ken Russell's Tommy (1975), I didn't like him. Looking back, it was probably his greasy Teddy Boy haircut combined with his awful singing in the movie that put me off, but over time, I earned great respect for the man's approach to acting, partying, and life, in general. Tonight's review, a gothic tale of witchcraft and horror set in extravagant Longleat House, country seat of the Marquis of Bath (who co-wrote the often clever script),  is a great example of Reed, from frivolous to sinister in record time and back again, all the while affecting an accent that is as hilarious as it is unintelligible. Sharing the lens with Ollie are the likes of Emperor Cl-Cl-Claudius himself, Sir Derek Jacobi, the ever-scrumptious Fiona Lewis, and Anna Gael (who's also the wife of the aforementioned Marquis).

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"Aristocrat or not, I've a lot of balls for wearing a coat like this."
Beate (Meg Wynn Owen) is a frumpy, traditional German nanny, the latest to be employed by foppishly decadent aristocrat, Gregory (Derek Jacobi), whose predatory wife, Lily (Fiona Lewis), is often elsewhere on singing gigs, and whose looming butler, Tom (Oliver Reed), is a subject of growing unease and mistrust for the new nanny. Her two young charges being the result of Gregory's efforts to provide a male heir to inherit the sprawling estate, with a private section cordoned off for the family, and a public one that includes a drive thru wildlife park(!) for the constant influx of gawking tourists, Beate soon finds her dreams have gone all witchy with a red tint, and Tom as centerpiece, decked out in red cloth, dramatically palming a sacrificial dagger, and so on.

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"Lighten up, Ilsa. 'Ave a bang of this Moony Kush."
The nanny finds that her cautionary chat with her employer is for naught, as he's no more concerned with his children's welfare than he is with his own deviant perversions or growing dependence upon his equally deviant manservant, who has taken control of the estate and all within it through his late night, red-colored voodoo. While Gregory carelessly parties away upstairs with a gaggle of upper-class twits, Tom follows suit with the staff, drinking booze and blowing jibbers, doing pretty much whatever (and whoever) he bloody well pleases, even slapping a stifling headlock on his fey boss in front of his mistress (Anna Gael) with no repercussions to fear. It all ends badly for the spineless aristocrats, as the male heir eats a sacrificial shiv and Gregory is no less deceased himself, and all with Tom gloating over the spoils, with an obedient Lily by his side.

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'Cor, Fioner. You're giving me a...great deal of pleasure while admiring this screen cap.
The film sat for two years before opening to few theaters and fewer positive reviews in 1975, but that's not a deserving epitaph for such a movie, I think. If you're a fan of Reed and Jacobi, both of whom are excellent here, or just enjoy well-crafted British horror, and you haven't caught this one yet, do so immediately. Novelist/Director Sinclair, who also wrote an episode of Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, aptly blends elements of anxiety and comedy into an entertaining visual romp full of sex, blood, drugs, and magic; all the necessary ingredients to earn this particular witches brew an impressive score of three Wops on the rating scale. Recommended.

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"I'll only take a ceremonial dagger-stirred Bloody Mary, y'know..."
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