Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blood Sabbath and Brianne Murphy


Ever find yourself watching a 70's porno and get totally caught up in the plot? Yeah, me neither. But that's how I felt watching the wonderfully bizarre naked witches-in-the-woods-romance-horror-exploitation flick Blood Sabbath starring b movie icon Dyanne Thorne(Ilsa) and future soap opera star Anthony Geary.

First off: this is obviously not a porno. In fact it's quite tame in both the sex and the violence department. The copy that I own is a pretty poor print(I'm not sure that a good print even exists.) But if you can get past a bad transfer of 16mm I recommend you give this strange flick a chance.

Dyanne Thorne as "Alotta"

Now, this movie is super strange for a couple of reasons. First, I'm glad that I'm not the only person who has genuinely enjoyed this ultra low budget tripped out oddity. In fact googling the movie I have seen other reviewers that have broken the film down in trying to describe it's charm, so I won't do that here. The basics:

A man traveling through the woods comes upon a coven of naked witches. Then he meets a water nymph who he falls madly in love with. Then he meets a hobo that tells him to stay away from the nymph. Then the nymph tells him that they can't be together because of the Queen Witch "Alotta" (Thorne). Then he has to give his soul to the Queen Witch to be with the water nymph. There's some boobs, some rituals, a beheading of a priest, a back story about Vietnam, some more boobs, and a conclusion that's just...well, it's a conclusion.

She's a water nymph, why not?

At one point halfway through the movie I got up to use the bathroom and I paused the movie. I actually hit pause because I was interested in what was going on- and no, it's not because I thought I would miss a boobie scene.

When I was finished the flick I went straight to IMDB to check some stuff out and to my delight I learned about the director, Brianne Murphy. Strange that a nudie type movie of this kind would be directed by a female. Even stranger that it would be directed by a future groundbreaking Emmy award winning cinematographer responsible for work over the years as diverse as Little House on the Prairie, to the movie Fatso, to Daytime After School Specials .

Brianne Murphy has quite a record of achievements. Starting out by crashing the opening night of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in 1954 and performing the entire evening as a clown!! This antic led to publicity that eventually found her becoming a still photographer for the circus, which then somehow led her to Hollywood.

She married the infamous low budget director Jerry Warren, responsible for now mostly public domain bombs like Man Beast and Teenage Zombies. The former had her pulling multiple duties like script supervisor and even slapping on the costume of the Yeti. The latter she was a production supervisor AND played the role of Pam.

She was also married to another no budget maverick, Ralph Brooke. This was the gentleman we can all thank for Bloodlust! and The Right hand of the Devil. Thanks, Ralph...

She was the A.D. on Jayne Mansfield's last movie, Single Room Furnished, and a photographer on Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams.

If all of that wasn't enough she became the first female director of photography on a major Hollywood film and the first female member of the American Society of Cinematographers. And...she also directed Blood Sabbath.

Sadly Brianne Murphy passed away in 2003 of cancer in Mexico. But sadder yet is a shocking lack of information on this pioneer befitting her incredible life and her achievements. Both in B movie history and mainstream Hollywood. Even her IMDB comment page is basically empty.

Read Brianne Murphy's obituary here:

And Bloodbath is part of a Mills Creek 50 movies pack:

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