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Night of Bloody Horror/Review

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The 1960s were a fertile time for horror. The decade was, after all, the first in which motion picture censorship laws were relaxed, opening the door for unfiltered depictions of horror (more than 200 films contain the word “horror” in the title), gore and pornography. Night of Bloody Horror is an early example of low budget cinema trying to cover all the new, legally permitted bases.

Gerald McRaney is Wesley, a slight young man who, nevertheless, is a hit with the girls; he has no trouble bedding several beautiful young women. Wesley spent more than a decade in a mental institution (he “accidentally” murdered his younger brother) but now he’s out, unemployed and living with his peculiar mother in a large house on the outskirts of town.

Wesley doesn’t have good luck. The young women whom he’s slept with are all turning up dead: bludgeoned to death with an axe. Is he committing the murders? He was seen by several people sharpening an axe in his backyard: he says he was preparing to chop wood. And his whereabouts on the nights the murders took place are unclear: you see, he’s suffers from migraines and blacks out, a condition brought on by his younger brother’s violent death.

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On hand to help figure out the truth is his curious mother Agatha (Evelyn Hendricks), a woman who believes her son “still needs help”; his best friend Mark (Bert Roberts), a man who picks up the pieces when Wesley gets into fights (Wesley has anger issues); and his curious shrink Dr. Moss (Herbert Nelson), the man who befriended Wesley when he was institutionalized and has now been invited to live in the house with Wesley and his mother.

Director Joy N. Houck Jr. (The Night of the Strangler) presents a film that provides expansive coverage.

It’s gore: three on-screen hacking deaths: it’s a nudie; three on-screen sexual encounters showcasing body grinding and tongue kissing; it’s Rock & Roll: a full night club number performed by the (appropriately named) rock band The Bored; It’s psychedelic: Wesley’s incapacitating migraines are preceded by lollipop-colored swirls; And it’s “hicksploitation”: Louisiana and its inhabitants (dead-voiced non-actors) appear like they’re from another planet.

Interesting for both its totally-missing-the-mark poster art, which features a giant skeletal face wearing a fright wig, as well as the fact that it’s one of very few exploitation films not re-titled and sent out a second time, Night of Bloody Horror (actually the story takes place over a few months!) is an indecent hodgepodge with a worthy final act. Lesson: When you go to sleep, make sure you keep your bedroom door locked!

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Josiah Howard is the author of four books including the seminal Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide. His writing credits include articles for The New York Times, Reader’s Digest and The Village Voice. A veteran of more than 100 radio broadcasts he is a regular contributor to Grindhouse Cinema Database and in 2014-15 made regular appearances on TV One’s award-winning documentary series Unsung. Visit his Official Website.
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