The Bloody Judge (1970)

aka Il trono di fuoco, Night of the Blood Monster
Article 3295 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-6-2010
Posting Date: 8-22-2010
Directed by Jesus Franco
Featuring Christopher Lee, Maria Schell, Leo Genn
Country: Liechtenstein / Italy / Spain / West Germany
What it is: Witch-hunting drama

The brutal Lord Chancellor of England, Judge Jeffries, deals with witches and rebels during his reign.

At one point, someone tells the title character that it might be worth his while to witness the executions he hands out, which I think is a rather fitting comment given the rumor that Christopher Lee had completed all of his scenes and was not around to see the gruesome torture scenes that were added to the movie. In fact, the scene where he makes love to a young woman may not feature him at all; all we see is of his character in that scene is a hand, which could well belong to anyone. Still, Lee considered his role in this one to be one of his finest performances, and he’s right; his character is extremely well drawn, and Lee does an exemplary job with it. Given that the director was Jesus Franco and the producer was Harry Alan Towers, I expected the worst going into this, but it’s one of those cases where Franco was given a decent budget to work with, and he makes wise use of it. Though I wouldn’t call it a great movie (it gets rather dull on occasion), it’s definitely one of Franco’s better efforts, and it even rises above being just another knockoff of WITCHFINDER GENERAL; the movie finds its own voice and doesn’t merely echo the earlier movie. Yes, there’s some added sleaze, but that’s pretty much what you would expect from Franco at this time, wouldn’t you?

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