Evil’s Brewing in “Crucible of the Vampire” review!


When half of an archaic crucible is discovered while excavating in the basement of an old Victorian mansion, Isabelle, an assistant museum curator, is hastily dispatched to authenticate the finding and to confirm the analyst that the cauldron is, in fact, the missing second half to the one in the museum’s possession. Isabelle is greeted by the estate owner, Karl, his wife Evelyn, and their eccentric daughter Scarlet who welcome Isabelle to stay with them while she evaluates the crucible. The unnerving manor home keeps Isabelle awake at night as she frightfully witnesses silhouettes of a young woman wandering through the haunting corridors and the untended rooms. As Karl brushes Isabelle’s nightly concerns to the side, impatiently urging her to summon for the other half of the piece and finalize a match that would then focus on the crucible’s value, the young curator can’t shake the continuously dreadful sensation that danger lurks in every dark corner of the estate and that the residents are inherently grooming her for a sinister awakening of immortality and power.

Writer-director Iain Ross-McNamee has diffidently checked all the British-gothic horror boxes in his latest film, a brooding vampire macabre entitled “Crucible of the Vampire.” “The Singing Bird Will Come” director co-writes the script with Darren Lake and “I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle” screenwriter John Wolskel to reel in the once was, the gilded age of British horror that made a nick in time with the vehemently violent and boldly colorful enriched Hammer Horror. Like other genetic make-ups of horror bodies, Hammer Horror has a genome of a check list of self-defining attributes and “Crucible of a Vampire” aims to notch a few key elements including the Gothicism finesse, the sexually unchaste vampire, and, also, to deliver big horror on a small budget. Ross-McNamee places stakes not into the cold, bloodthirsty hearts, but more so into construing a film that isn’t a carbon copy of the old days, adding a contemporary digital presentation that’s laced generously with contemporary photography techniques even when the opening prelude is set in the 17-century and shot in a sepia style.

The story centers around the assistant curator, Isabelle, who has wearisome tendencies of 24/7 suspicion, being a pawn in every sense of the word. From the head curator to Karl’s family, Isabelle finds herself alone in tight spots and not many people she can count on. There are a couple of characters that are potential allies, but their feeble attempts in buffering Isabelle from the house’s evil secret are no thinker than a single sheet of college rule paper. Isabelle herself is her strongest defense and when push comes to shove, the curator turns ass kicker against a family of vampire acolytes. Katie Goldfinch handles Isabelle with reasonable composure, if not slightly timid at times, especially during fight sequences. Goldfinch sustains her lead performance of her sophomore feature film that is exposition heavy to formulate an isolating and intimidating dynamic between her and Karl’s family. Karl’s portentous cruelty is town-renowned, shaped by rumors and peppered with truisms and Larry Rew channels Karl precisely. The “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” actor has traditional methods of able to creep one out by standing still and speaking with a vigorously commanding tone, but Rew feels significantly older compared to his wife and daughter. Karl’s wife, Evelyn, stammers as a wild card in a role that seems to go nowhere and Babette Barat can only strut her hippie performance of Evelyn so far until we’re wondering what’s significance as a mother, as a wife, and as part of the crucible grand scheme. Scarlet had the opposite effect as the daughter was overly forward with defining her intentions that toward Isabelle that involved stealing, desiring, and chastising. Scarlet’s predestined for villainy and actress Florence Cady provides a fringe heavy and tantalizing seductive performance. So much so, Cady nearly becomes the female lead, but certainly overshadows the crucible’s calling, a vampire named Lydia, a non-verbal role with barely much screen time given to wild-eye, teased haired, and paled Lisa Martin. Angela Carter, Brian Coucher (1995’s “Underworld”), Phil Hemming, Aaron Jeffcoate (AMC’s “The Terror”), Charles O’Neill (“Cripsy’s Curse”), and the UK Bob of “Bob the Builder” Neil Morrissey co-star.

If “Crucible of the Vampire” is supposed to be a reawakening of British gothic horror, Ross-McNamee went without the vibrancy of color and went without much of the fervent violence that Hammer Productions was keen on. “Crucible of the Vampire” sustains a dissimilar path focally toward more exposition to forefront a narrative until an action climax that’s initiated by awkwardly edited gratuitous nudity and weak character flaws. Like being brewed inside the ironclad enclosure of a crucible, the filmmaker simmered a story that quietly bubbled to the surface until it boiled over uncontrollably and extinguished itself, splattering onto the floor below in a heap of smoke. Act three is misshapen by the prior two acts with one issue being Isabella transforming in an instant into a complete bad ass when faced with death because of her pure, virgin blood. In a blink of an eye, she literally kills five acolytes with a melee weapons that include a rustic knife, the crucible, a metal pipe, and a fired filled chalice. The kill by fire chalice and other igniting instances during the film saw shoddy outcomes of superimposed, computer generated fire which really do speak the inane quality of the visual effects. Even with the practical effects, blood doesn’t spray or gush onto a wall when a vamp victim has his throat become the main course; instead, the effect squirts on the adjacent wall like from a condiment squeezer, losing a sense of convincing value.

ScreenBound Pictures presents “Crucible of the Vampire,” a Ghost Dog Films’ production, onto an all region PAL dual format, DVD/Blu-ray home video release. The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p with a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Picture looks absolutely gorgeous with the natural color palate, but slightly stodgy with the blood red vampire vision in only a couple of brief scenes. Details are fine and textures slice through, especially in the opening segments of Isabelle walking along the river line, and in conjunction with aesthetic wide shots that monolithic structures, like an old giant tree or the Victorian home. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 LCPM uncompressed audio track is not a film that necessarily needs five channels, but does utilize them when the night churns out bumps in the darkness. The dialogue has prominence, depth, and range without breaking or interrupting the audio lineage. The staid score by Michelle Bee and Amanda Murray floundered in the lossless audio as an unfortunate miscue to reel in and hammer away the gothic vision. This release came with no bonus features in a day and age where most Blu-rays do have some sort of extra content. “Crucible of the Vampire” has earned merit in the traditional British gothic horror sub-genre that’s been flailing over the years, reinvigorating the concept of dark arts and lesbian vampires, but loses footing at crucial moments that ultimately unglues the narrative.

Never, Ever Climax With Evil! “Female Vampire” review!


A cursed countess has returned home to the Madeira Island. Countess Irina Karlstein has an insatiable thirst, deadly to any man or woman she’s comes in content with on the scarcely populated island. By day and night, the beautiful mute countess, wandering the terrain more than half naked, enjoys the islet’s amenities, including sucking the blood, or the sperm, out from her erotically hypnotized prey and zapping their life essence right at the point of climax. Discredited Dr. Roberts and a mystical blind Dr. Orloff aim to track down the creature practicing vampirism, despite the local authorities unwillingness to aid them and wishing to debunk the outlandish theory. Amid the rising death toll, the countess unexpectedly falls in love with an aspiring writer on holiday and she fears her curse, her hunger, her need to be filled will consequently overtake the love she has bestowed upon the writer.

Classic European schlock from the greatly candid and voyeuristic director Jesús Franco, “Female Vampire” goes by many interesting titles, just like Franco himself who also has a cache of various, widely used monikers. “Erotikill.” “Loves of Irina.” “Lustful Vampires in Sperm Frenzy.” These are just the tip of the enigmatic iceberg that is of the English titles associated with Franco’s film with “The Bare-Breasted Countess” and “Female Vampire” the better suited for the version reviewed by Its Bloggin’ Evil. Oh, did I forget to mention there are multiple cuts and versions of this film? The 1975 sleazy vampire flick has numerous renderings from an XXX version with sexy-time vampire scenes to a 35-minute reduced cut where many of the sexually graphic material has been removed and more of the horror either remains or second, more conservative, takes are introduced. Whether “Female Vampire” is a good film or not ultimately determines to be an unnecessary factor as Franco’s film can be rather an interesting case study in how one story or, in this case, one reel can be reworked and reconstructed to emit a completely different sensational perceptive.

Barcelona born actress Lina Romay exposes herself as the Bare-Breasted Countess Irina Karlstein. Her striking dark features and piercing eyes make her resemble your typical lady bloodsucker and with vampires being naturally attributed with strong sexuality and influential powers, Romay doesn’t need the omitted dialogue as she instills beauty, sex, and power into the body and the expression of her character. The untrained actress leads by being an extrovert, uninhibited by conventional proprieties, and Romay wins at being Countess Irina Karlstein just by naturally being herself. Her longtime collaborator and future husband, Jess Franco, had developed, whether intentionally or not, this role for his free-spirited companion and, as well, stars himself as the inquiring Dr. Roberts. As the countess’ love, cult genre favorite Jack Taylor brings his tall, dark attributes to be a soft spot for the unquenchable cursed and an Amazonian built Anna Walican gets hanky-panky as a islander journalist with Lina Romay in a sensual scene of unchained lust. Alice Arno (“Justine de Sade”), Monica Swinn (“Hitler’s Last Train”), Luis Barboo (“Conan the Barbarian”), and Jean-Pierre Bouyxou round out the cast surrounded by Romay’s eroticism.

On the outside, Jess Franco directs like the utmost perversity, deep-seeded with gratuitous nudity and filled with revamped versions of the same scene. On the inside, “Female Vampire” is tragic love letter with Countess Irina Karlstein’s wretched curse stretching beyond her power. Her curse is more than just yearning from blood (or semen), but also an ache of the inability to be sexually gratified. Even when her victims are dead, she continues the carnal ritual of graphic grinding, tantalizing touching, and manic masturbating. Aside from being mostly nude throughout the entire feature, and if not, semi nude through a see-through blouse, Lina Romay’s perfectly shaped apple bottom is constantly upended, flaunting her pheromones in more way than one, with each conquest more exposed than the other.

Screenbound Pictures has released “Female Vampire,” aka “The Bare-Breasted Countess,” as one of the first United Kingdom DVD titles from the new Euro cult label, Maison Rouge, who specialize in Euro trash and sleaze. I was offered a DVD-R screener and can’t comment on the quality or the bonus features, but with release, with excellent cover art, contains two versions of the film: the highly erotic version with as much body part exposure as one can handle and the “Erotikill” which has alternate scenes and less sleaze. The main feature dons no blood, except the countess in a blood tub, and allows Countess Karlstein to roam in sunlight, non-typical traits of the conventional vampire and as the “Erotikill” version still lets the countess be exposed to ultraviolet rays, there’s more blood that’s more than enough to barely gentrify the horror genre. “Female Vampire” is an usual bird of love and lust, a perfect example of Jess France’s body of work, in an awful take on an iconic horror villain legend.