THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE
THE BLOOD CASTLE; THE BLOODY FIANCEE; TILL DEATH DO US PART
(La Novia Ensangrentada)
The Blood Spattered Bride is no different to any of these. At least Alexandra Bastedo, formerly a British tv star with the superhero series The Champions (1968), while blonde and statuesque, plays with a cool icy aloofness, unlike the bovinely blank Yutte Stensgaards Carmilla in Hammers Lust for a Vampire (1971) or the ridiculously unyouthful Ingrid Pitt in Hammers The Vampire Lovers (1970). More interestingly, the film adds its own backstory to Le Fanu it puts the seduced womans age up a good ten years, makes her a newlywed and gives her a story about her cooling to her husbands frequent sexual appetite. In so doing, the story takes on a considerable misogynistic undertow, one that pits hot-blooded Euro male sexuality against man-hating predatory lesbianism. The point is made overtly clear in one dream scene where Carmilla encourages the wife to castrate her husband with a knife. The final image of the two women dead in their coffin holds an additional frisson, the sense that masculine sexuality has been restored. Despite the overtones of masculine supremacy, The Blood Spattered Bride holds a much more confident and liberal sexuality that the giggly adolescence that permeated Hammers Karnstein trilogy.
On a directorial level, The Blood Spattered Bride is perfunctorily made. Everything is straightforward there is little subtlety or anything that works on any other level. However, the film is not entirely without occasional moments of interest. Director Vicente Aranda throws in intermittent images of surrealistic appeal (something that brings him close to Frances Jean Rollin who also blended eroticism, vampirism and surrealism) someone poking their face through a portrait with the face cut out, momentarily resulting in the image of a portrait with a living face; love-making in a cage filled with pigeons; and some intriguing scenes flipping back and forth between dream with Maribel Martin waking up to find herself holding a dagger that had been previously hidden. The films one moment of surrealistic grandeur is the scene where Simon Andreu discovers Alexandra Bastedo buried in the sand, uncovering first her face wearing a scuba mask and then her ample naked chest. It is a scene that makes no rational sense whatsoever ie. to ask why she should so bury herself but amid the films relative crudeness does hold an outre wildness.
Other screen adaptations of Carmilla are: extremely loose influence on the classic Vampyr (1932); Roger Vadims Blood and Roses (1960) starring Annette Vadim as Carmilla; the Italian-Spanish Terror in the Crypt (1963); Hammers trilogy consisting of The Vampire Lovers (1970) starring Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla, Lust for a Vampire (1971) with Yutte Stensgaard and Twins of Evil (1972) with twin sisters coming under the Karnstein influence; an episode of the tv series Nightmare Classics (1989) starring Meg Tilly; and the modernised Styria (2014) starring Julia Pietrucha.