A deaf and dumb accountant suffers from a psychic trauma in his childhood. He is collecting puppets and mutilates female bodies in the mortuary. After his secret love died by an accident he starts to kill.
It’s time to add another movie to the “pleasant surprise” list – Marijan Vajda’s 1977 exploitation thriller Bloodlust (aka Mosquito der Schander, which translates to “Mosquito the Molester,” and on some releases accompanied by the sub-title “the Black Forest Vampire” for one reason or another) is a weird one, but a fairly enjoyable, and well done, film. An unlikely gem – written by Mario d’Alcala (his only writing credit) and directed by a guy (Vajda) whose resume is full of documentary shorts – this is one of those rare movies that asks you to sympathize with a bad, bad person, and then actually succeeds in swaying your alliances.
Bloodlust follows a man (billed only as “The Man,” and well-played by Werner Pochath) who can neither hear nor speak. This man has some rather strange quirks – for one, he has a large collection of dolls, but of slightly more interest here, he also seems to have a fascination with the dead and their blood. Well, actually, it’s mostly their blood. To the point that he is breaking into morgues and desecrating dead bodies with increasing viciousness as time goes on. But hey, at least he’s messing with the already dead, right? It’s not like he’s going after live victims…
The thing about this story, as I mentioned before, is that we actually care about this guy, this weird, borderline necrophiliac character. Even though he’s defiling corpses, and tagging the walls with “Mosquito” in red marker, we also see that he is a human being with problems. Early on, we see him try to break up a fight, not only getting hurt in the process, but seeing his flashback to his own father beating on him and then doing worse to his sister.
He is constantly picked on at work, to the point where his co-workers tease him with a blow-up doll. He has horrible memories of childhood, being bullied in the classroom. He seems to have a bit of a crush on a girl (billed as Young Girl, played by Birgit Zamulo) who lives near him, a crush that may or may not be reciprocated. And when he is pressured by a prostitute to accompany her, we see that all he wants to do is cuddle. Taking all of this into account, it’s hard not to feel something for the guy, no matter what creepy stuff he’s doing, and I think that is why this movie succeeds – at times, it starts feeling repetitive, as we watch the guy go to work, then break into the morgue and do something to a corpse, then go home and look at, or break, his dolls, and then repeat.
Bloodlust falls somewhere between a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie and something like Jacques Lacerte’s Love Me Deadly in terms of overall feel. It is never intentionally funny (although the flashback of the father beating on the son, then pausing to fill his glass of wine and take a sip before continuing is amusing, in a creepy kind of way), nor is it mean-spirited or insulting to the main character – he is portrayed as a normal-ish human being who, oh by the way, can’t hear or speak (which is a breath of fresh air). When there are gorier scenes, they are often very low-budget looking in that HGL style – The Man goes from cutting a body and tasting the blood to popping out the eyeballs of an obviously rubber corpse, then later using a glass straw to suck the blood from the corpses.
As one might imagine, there is not a lot of dialogue in this film, which puts the pressure on the actors to deliver good performances, and for the most part, they do. Especially impressive here is Pochath, in his starring role, who is able to substitute body language and facial expressions for verbal dialogue successfully in order to communicate with both the other characters as well as the audience. Add good acting to great camera work, and Bloodlust quickly rises up the list and earns the reputation of “underrated” and “forgotten gem.” This is a dark story that gets progressively darker as it goes (no spoilers), so if you’re in the mood for some taboo-breaking exploitation from the late -70’s, you’d best be considering Bloodlust.