Jess Franco! Christopher Lee!

Almost certainly riding off the coattails of Witchfinder General’s success, Euro-cult director Jess Franco and star Christopher Lee team up for the even more daring Night of the Blood Monster. Known as The Bloody Judge in select markets possibly conjuring up Lee’s reputation as Dracula, the film is actually a dark and twisted peek into English history. Technically a period drama set in 1685, Franco explores the sadistic practices of Justice Jeffries in gory detail, a notorious witchfinder during the reign of King James II.

Marrying exploitation sleaze and violence to fairly interesting historical characters works splendidly in Night of the Blood Monster. Led by a commanding Christopher Lee playing a demented man of justice in Jeffries, Franco understands what his audience wants. Any man who supports William of Orange is condemned and their women branded witches without mercy. Jeffries is an unbending tool enforcing the Crown’s will as he succumbs to his own temptations of the flesh.

Night of the Blood Monster is packed with beautiful actresses cruelly tormented for the audience’s pleasure

There’s something for everyone in the sprawling if sloppy screenplay, shockingly edgy for 1970. Witches! Blood! Torture! Forbidden romance! Sex! English Civil War! An epic cavalry charge! The superb European cast includes Maria Rohm, Leo Genn (Quo Vadis), Diana Lorys, Maria Schell, and Howard Vernon.

The domineering Jeffries (Christopher Lee) develops an unhealthy affection for a woman (Maria Rohm) whose sister was condemned to death for being a witch. Discovering a network of agents working against King James II, almost anyone could be a traitor. Leading to a brutal spree of torture and sexual violence as Jeffries roots out anyone siding with William of Orange against the Crown.

Being a Franco film, Night of the Blood Monster is packed with beautiful actresses cruelly tormented for the audience’s pleasure. Included in this neatly assembled version from Blue Underground are uncut scenes rarely seen before upping its sheer exploitation factor, pulled from uncensored European prints.

Night of the Blood Monster isn’t Christopher Lee’s best film but it may very well be one of the strongest from European exploitation legend Jess Franco. His raunchier approach works wonders despite sharing many similarities with Vincent Price’s Witchfinder General. The production values are on point with lavish costumes and generally expansive settings, including a fantastic battle.

Always a trip, Franco cobbles together a fascinating story of obsession and deviant power. The graphic filmmaking is a highlight, reinforcing an excellent lead performance from the great Christopher Lee backed by a cast of talented performers.

Video

Several versions of Franco’s 1969 production exist, alternate cuts made during the early 1970s for differing European markets and America. What Blue Underground has assembled for this set runs almost 103 minutes, combining what we know as the existing English dub merged with more graphic and explicit scenes only available in Germany.

Assembling this uncensored cut from a new 4K scan of the camera negative, with a few scenes plucked from secondary German elements, Blue Underground has done yeoman’s work bringing Night of the Blood Monster to UHD. The primary elements are in excellent condition with robust detail and a crisp palette. There’s a small tick down in overall sharpness and clarity from the short German segments.

The main feature is nicely encoded in HEVC on a dual-layer UHD. The Dolby Vision enhancement offers splashes of richly saturated primary colors with inky black levels and crisp definition which blew me away. A sizable upgrade over standard 1080p video, Night of the Blood Monster features precise and often fetching cinematography made by experienced hands.

Cleanly film-like with abundant texture and proper grain reproduction, Night of the Blood Monster’s 4K transfer is a thing of cinematic glory. A slight yellow push marks the overall color balance. Exceedingly sharp with strong depth in the better interiors reveals fantastic shadow delineation. Breathing new life into Franco’s classic exploitation flick, my highest recommendation for videophiles.

Audio

Blue Underground provides Night of the Blood Monster with a hybrid English 1.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack assembled from various European prints in full mono. Bruno Nicolai’s full-body orchestral score receives a large focus in the adequate mix. Battle effects make less impact than expected, somewhat buried. The English dialogue is heard in pleasant quality with fine intelligibility.

The vast majority of the dialogue is from the English soundtrack but since Blue Underground utilized uncut footage from the German print for a few uncensored minutes, German dialogue is heard while English subtitles are included for that particular scene.

Optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles play in a white font, always inside the scope presentation.

Extras

The two-disc set includes a limited edition embossed slipcover and reversible sleeve with alternate artwork featuring the “Bloody Judge” title. One of the first cases I can remember when the salacious parts promised on the cover are actually in the movie. Most special features are found only on the included Blu-ray, as the UHD contains the three audio commentaries without anything else.

Blue Underground utilizes older special features brought over from earlier editions and newer interviews thrown into the mix. Not the deepest line-up but the worthy exploitation flick receives a decent examination from several different talking heads. The three separate commentaries all offer something different, though I’d probably lean towards the one by Newman and Forshaw.

Audio Commentary #1 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

Audio Commentary #2 with Film Historians Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw

Audio Commentary #3 with Film Historians David Flint and Adrian Smith

Bloody Jess (25:12 in SD) – Archival interviews with director Jess Franco and star Christopher Lee pulled all the way back from the original DVD.

Judgement Day (33:31 in HD) – New interview with Stephen Thrower, author of “Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco” who concisely analyzes Night of the Bloody Monster.

In The Shadows (24:15 in HD) – New interviews with filmmaker Alan Birkinshaw and author Stephen Thrower on producer Harry Alan Towers’ career.

Deleted and Alternate Scenes – Seven scenes in various quality, mostly plucked from alternate cuts including the Italian and German releases. They are titled Mary’s Grief, Clothed Love Scene, Jeffreys’ Nightmare, Mary’s Release From Dungeon, “Bloody Judge” Main Titles, “Der Hexentoter Von Blackmoor” Main Titles, The Ending From German Version.

Trailers and TV Spot (All in SD) – U.S. Theatrical Trailer, U.S. Combo Trailer, U.S. Combo TV Spot

Still Galleries (All in HD) – Posters, Advertising Materials, Lobby Cards, B&W Stills, Color Stills, Video & Soundtrack

Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Night of the Blood Monster
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Exploitation auteur Jess Franco and star Christopher Lee join forces for an unforgettable English history lesson in this sleazy descent into raw jurisprudence

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User Review
4.5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 54 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:


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