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Film Review: The Ghastly Ones (1968)

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SYNOPSIS:

In order to find out what their dead father has left them in his will three sisters must stay three nights in his creepy house on an island in the middle of nowhere. They all bring their husbands along with them on the trip but that won’t save them once someone starts taking people out one-by-one. Will any of the sisters survive to collect their inheritance or will none of them leave the island alive? 

REVIEW:

Andy Milligan was a weird dude and so were his movies. Blood Rites (AKA The Ghastly Ones) is no exception as it is bizarre as hell but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t without its own strange charm. I know that Milligan was a controversial guy and most of his movies are universally mocked (and even hated) but I don’t think that they are that bad as I have seen a lot worse. I generally enjoy his movies-even if they aren’t the greatest motion pictures of all time-for what they are and as such I thought that Blood Rites was a decent little movie even though I have a feeling in am in the vast minority.

In terms of plot things don’t get much simpler. Some people have to stay at a spooky old house in order to possibly get their hands on some money, meet the creepy maid/butler/gardener, etc that still lives and works there, and people start getting killed off. Yeah, it’s been done time and time again but for some reason I always get a kick out of these types of movies because there is usually an element of mystery involved that requires you to figure out who the murderer is, and that is definitely present in this film. Not only are people dropping off like flies in a number of pretty cool ways but we also don’t know who is responsible until the final moments.

If that sounds like a good time for you then you will dig Blood Rites as that pretty much sums up the entire movie. I mean there are still small subplots going on about the sisters’ relationships and such but to be honest it is just filler thrown in there to pad out the time so you honestly really don’t have to pay that much attention to any of that as it really isn’t that important. I know that statement may sound sarcastic or like I’m trying to be funny but I’m being 100% honest here when I say the main reason to watch this movie is for the mystery and the death scenes because those elements aren’t bad at all. As for the other stuff? Not so much.

One thing that I have to admit about Milligan is that he had a talent for creating pretty impressive gore and death scenes without having a whole lot of money to do so. Blood Rites has some cool death scenes in it and I thought that the gore looked mighty damn good (better than that CGI crap everyone uses these days in my opinion. Yes, I know. I am a cranky old man). The opening death scene (even though it takes a while to happen) is fun and throughout the movie we get a handful of some more that are pretty much the highlights of the movie. We get a disembowelment, a decapitation (with the head getting presented on a serving dish at dinner later no less), death via pitchfork, and fun with a hatchet. Fans of practical effects that are on more of the thrifty side will get a kick out of these scenes (especially the one that involves the poor bastard being disemboweled) and I just thought that they were loads of fun personally.

I also liked the fact that it we don’t know who the killer is and have to try to figure it out before it is revealed for us in the end. I am happy to say that I knew who the killer was pretty early on but I didn’t have a clue why the person was doing it until the movie tells us. All I have to say is that I really didn’t see it coming and though that it was a very cool touch. Some people smarter than me may figure it out right away but I honestly never in a million years even suspected what the person’s motivation was. I thought that it was a pretty nice little twist (then again it doesn’t take a lot to impress me sometimes) and shows that Milligan wasn’t nearly as incompetent as a writer as a lot of people make him out to be. Don’t get me wrong, the guy wasn’t the greatest screenwriter in the history of film or anything but he did have his moments where he had some clever ideas.

In addition to being Milligan’s first movie in color Blood Rites also had the honor of being one of the many films to find itself on the infamous (IE idiotic) Video Nasties list. While I am sure a lot of people who have seen it most likely hate it and think that it is terrible I have to disagree. It isn’t perfect by a long shot but it is watchable and is a lot of fun in its own odd way. Give it a shot if you are a fan of Milligan’s or just if you like low budget flicks that are interesting and fun. I dug it and I think if you give it a chance you will too if you don’t take it too seriously.

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