A group of artist beatniks are at their local hangout. Among them are Max (Karl Schanzer) and his model/girlfriend Daisy (Marissa Mathes). Max is showing off his latest painting. It is a nude of Daisy. Abdul (Sid Haig) called it “formal”. Max says it’s not quite done. He takes out a paint pellet gun and fires an ampoule of paint at the canvas marring the face. Everyone raves except Daisy. Now mad that no one can see her face she stalks out.
Daisy runs into Antonio Sordi (William Campbell) an artist known for a style called “Dead Red Nudes”. Daisy asks to pose for him. He takes her to his studio. Antonio’s studio is located beneath a bell tower. Sordi is possessed by the spirit of a long dead relative, who was called Erno. The ancient Erno is a vampire. He kills Daisy, poses her and paints one of his Dead Red Nudes using her corpse as his subject. Daisy is not the first. It seems that all Antonio’s subjects are dead.
As least all except a woman named Melizza (Lori Saunders). Melizza was the lover of the old fifteenth century vampire Sordi who was burned at the stake for casting a spell on the beautiful Melizza. Now believing he is the reincarnation of Erno Sordi Antonio has taken up where Erno left off.
Max is feeling bad about how he treated Daisy and wants to make up with her. When he can’t find her he visits her sister Donna (Sandra Knight). Donna, having heard about Sordi’s painting of Daisy tries to talk to him. Sordi kicks her out. Donna hears about the old legend of the Sordi curse. She researches it and tells Max about the legend. Donna decides to follow Sordi but ends up one of his victims.
In the meantime Sordi is seeing Dorean (Lori Saunders). When Dorean wants to take their relationship to the next level Sordi comes unglued and the vampire Erno comes out. Sordi now believes that Dorean is his long lost Melizza.
“Blood Bath” was released in 1966 and was directed by Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman. It is an American horror film. Roger Corman was the executive producer on the film along with AIP. As with a lot of Corman projects this too was a conglomerate of other films or pieces of films. There is an extended version of the film called “Track of the Vampire” with some uninteresting dance scenes, that was shown on late night TV.
The film started out as “Operation: Titan” which was a Yugoslavian film and an espionage thriller. Corman’s fingers were deeply imbedded in the film as he insisted on making sure it was Americanized by having some American actors in the movie. Francis Ford Coppola was also involved as a script advisor. Corman decided that the film was unreleasable but it did end up on late night TV entitled “Portrait of Terror”, the plot of which is totally different than “Blood Bath”.
Jack Hill was hired to film additional scenes. Corman still wasn’t happy so he hired Stephanie Rothman who added the vampire footage. Stephanie’s changes turned the film from a deranged artist horror film to a deranged artist who is also a vampire film. By the third manifestation of the movie Campbell was done with doing any more scenes so another unnamed actor was used as the vampire which meant that not only did Sordi change to a vampire he also changed to a vampire that looked different.
The net result of all these changes, adjustments, redos and undos is a strange little film that is a little confusing but has some really decent and creepy parts to it. Most of that is attributable to Campbell’s acting skills. Believe it or not, this is not the worst Roger Corman cut and paste I’ve seen, and, as far as I can remember, it’s the first film where the beatniks are basically the heroes.