Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973)

Article 4614 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-27-2014
Directed by Christopher Speeth
Featuring Janine Carazo, Jerome Dempsey, Daniel Dietrich
Country: USA
What it is: A walk through a strange world

A family takes up employment at a carnival, where they encounter murder, mayhem, madness and cannibalism.

There’s the basic outline of a plot around which this movie is built, but this is one of those movies where the plot is of no importance. What matters in this movie is the disorienting sense of random madness that permeates every moment. It hovers in a strange grey area located somewhere on the edges of such movies as THE FUNHOUSE, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, RAW MEAT and THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES?!!, done at what obviously must have been a tiny budget and served up as a cross between a horror movie and an abstract art film. There are scenes of the ghoulish residents of the carnival watching silent films; I recognize both THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME there. Bizarre set dressing, weird camera angles, unsettling characters… the movie leaves you with the sense of trying to recall a half-remembered fever nightmare. I’m not sure I can really say the movie is scary (it’s way too fragmented for that), but it leaves a mad residue in its wake. The only recognizable name in the cast for me was Herve Villechaize, but the character you’ll probably most remember is the affected and creepy Mr. Blood played by Jerome Dempsey.

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