Blood Bath: Limited Edition Blu-ray review

In-depth Blu-ray package reveals the bizarre history of Roger Corman's horror curio…

Like several other Roger Corman productions we could name, the story of how Blood Bath came to be is far more interesting than the movie itself...

Early in the 1960s Corman agreed to co-finance the Yugoslavian crime film Operation Titian on the proviso that it would be shot in English and star William Campbell and Patrick Magee to give it wider commercial appeal. However, when Corman viewed the film it became clear that this talky, convoluted tale couldn't be released in the US in its present form. The B-movie maestro therefore brought in colleague Stephanie Rothman to reshape the film, eliminating a lot of travelogue-type material, re-ordering scenes and adding in newly-shot content. Re-titled Portrait in Terror, it still didn't live up to Corman's hopes and was duly shelved until 1967 when it was sold to US TV networks as part of a package of films.

Still determined to get something more out of his original investment, Corman brought in director Jack Hill to write and direct a new horror film about a mad artist who kills his models, and which could cannibalise footage from Operation Titian/Portrait in Terror. But still Corman wasn't satisfied, and so Rothman returned to film and shot even more new material – the result being the 1966 vampire flick Blood Bath.

Does the story stop here? No. Blood Bath's meagre 62-minute running time was deemed too short for TV broadcasts, so even more footage was shot to pad out the movie. And with this longer running time came yet another new title: Track of the Vampire. This joins Blood Bath, Operation Titian and Portrait in Terror on this two-disc BD set.

Picture: Portrait in Terror and Blood Bath have both been restored from 35mm film elements and are by far the most consistent encodes in terms of quality. Track of the Vampire primarily draws on the restoration of Blood Bath, with the added footage coming from a mixture of dupe negative and fine grain positive reels. The difference between source material is clear to see, but not really problematic. Finally, Operation Titian has been reconstructed using restored footage from Portrait in Terror and standard-definition inserts (see screengrab below). As you'd expect, this results in some fairly jarring shifts in image quality.
Picture rating: 3.5/5

Audio: All four LPCM mono soundtracks are perfectly acceptable, but do betray their low-budget origins through limited dynamic range and some distortion.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: The highlight here is the fascinating 81-minute documentary by critic Tim Lucas exploring the various different versions of the film. Also included are interviews, a stills gallery, a poster and a 40-page booklet.
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: This fascinating and comprehensive Blu-ray release is let down only by the films themselves...

Blood Bath Limited Edition, Arrow Video, Region A/B BD, £28