Track of the Vampire
Jack Hill, Roger Corman (executive) for AIP
directed by Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman, Rados Novakovic (archive footage)
starring William Campbell, Marissa Mathes, Lori Saunders, Sandra Knight, Karl Schanzer, Biff Elliot, Sid Haig, Jonathan Haze, Fred Thompson, David Ackles, Thomas Karnes, Frank Church, David Miller, Jess Nichols, Lowe Stephens, Patrick Magee (archive footage)
written by Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman, music by Ronald Stein
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Even though belittled as a hack by the beatniks of his day, Antonio
Sordi (William Campbell) is a successful and well-selling painter,
especially known and esteemed for his series of pictures of dead women.
Thing is, all of the women who are portrayed in Sordi's pictures
apparently have gone missing after posing for him ... but nobody seems to
make the connection. Sordi you see has a condition though, one that has
been handed down from generations of mad artists before him, he's secretly
a vampire. And the only reason he has not been found out is that none of
his victims have ever turned up dead anywhere, as he keeps them covered in
wax in his studio. Still, his being a vampire wrecks Sordi personally, as
he's in love with Dorean (Lori Sanders), but just cannot consume this
relationship for fear of consuming her quite literally. So he keeps her at
a safe distance while luring one model after the other to his studio ...
until eventually he goes to far and gets his beatnik adversaries (Karl
Schanzer, Sid Haig, Jonathan Haze, Fred Thompson) on his trail. However,
his undoing comes from the most unexpected of sources ...
film in its own right, Blood Bath might feel ok but horribly
disjointed: Some of the horror scenes are really chilling and atmospheric,
but especially the scenes with the beatniks are rather broad comedy
somewhat reminiscent of Roger Corman's A
Bucket of Blood. And while the movie has some trippy and dreamlike
scenes to it, they don't do anything much for the film's coherence that
falls totally flat as all the characters seem to be weirdly disjointed
from the proceedings - to the effect that makes one believe this isn't the
work from just one brain but a weird mish-mash as only Roger Corman could
concoct it (see The Terror for
... and whoever thought this would be totally
right. Blood Bath's story actually started when Corman invested
some money in the Yugoslavian flick Operation
Titian, starring his regulars William Campbell and Patrick Magee,
back in 1963, with later directorial legend Francis Ford Coppola involved
as script consultant. Now that flick didn't work out in Corman's eyes, nor
did the "Americanized" version A
Portrait in Terror - which despite some added beautiful underwater
footage and a tighter pace didn't really satisfy Corman either ... and
here's where the story gets muddy, as according to reports, Corman had
then Jack Hill shoot additional footage, and only then Stephanie Rothman
(both his go-to directors at the time for jobs like this) add some more -
which ultimately led to two versions, one called Blood Bath, using
only some establishing and location shots from Operation
Titian, and Track of the Vampire, using quite some footage
starring Patrick Magee (a master thief in the original, a spurned husband
in this one) ... for little apparent reason.
Now none of this makes Blood
Bath or Track of the Vampire a particularly great movie in its
own right, but if you're only somewhat of a B-movie buff, you simply have
to watch the film in all its incarnations for the story behind it ... and
you'll be charmed by it for that, too!