Monday, July 04, 2016

Blood of the Tribades – review

Directors: Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

Blood of the Triblades ran a successful kickstarter campaign and the version viewed for review was the backers exclusive digital access. What I watched was a film that owed a debt to 70s Euro-horror – especially Jean Rollin - no real surprise as the film’s homepage cites both films of Rollin and Jess Franco, as well as some of the 70’s Hammer vampire films as inspiration. Not listed as an inspiration was the film Jonathan but to me there was a definite simile to be drawn between the two.

The film also proved to be rather stagey, with many a reference layered within the film – for instance the character names, with an overarching commentary on religion and a need, perhaps, to be a little more explicit within its narrative.

opening narration 
We start with Grando (Seth Chatfield) offering the viewer a pseudo-religious tract that tells of the Lord Bathor who created man in His own image and offered the pain of childbirth to women but the women no longer bear defference to the men or bear them children. The men subsist on the blood of Bathor but the women took to taking the blood of man and beast and so the men would spill the blood of the tribades in the name of Lord Bathor.

It’s an evangelical rant that is replaced by the credits, simple and effectively done with a nice guitar based theme. For those who have never come across the word tribade before it means a lesbian. This is, of course, the launching platform into the 70s Euro-horror, which often had a lesbian theme. The film is set in the village of Bathory and is set in 2000 AB. As it opens a woman takes a bath and a man, with pox on his face, watches her for a while. He in turn is watched by two hooded and fanged women, Naga (Simone de Boudoir) and Giltine (Sindy Katrotic). Naga prevents them from interfering.

dying bather
The man sights the bathing woman with a roughly hewn crossbow and shoots a wooden bolt through her heart. As she dies she reveals fangs and a red vapour escapes her mouth as she expires. The man returns to his brethren. They all wear a similar costume and a red Saint Andrew’s Cross as a lapel badge. One of the men has breached their arbitrary religious rules and he is "forgiven" by stripping him and has his eyes ripped by rose thorns before disposing of him. The worshippers of Bathor drink from a fountain of blood that comes from a stone rose, they are all marked with the pox accept for Grando. He is fasting, unwilling to partake of Bathor’s blood until they eradicate the heretic tribades.

on the beach
We see three hooded women go to a beach – the location, the costumes and even the camera filters do summon a feel of Rollin. They hold up Saint Andrew’s crosses and pull down a red vapour. They then approach women showing their now red hair – it becomes apparent that these women are elders and the hair is a sign that calls the women to a meeting. The recent spate of murders is a sign from Bathor, they say, they must stay and prepare for the return of Bathor. There is one dissenter, Fantine (Mary Widow), who was the sister of the woman killed at the head of the film and who suggests they should run and hide. The film concentrates on Fantine and her lover Elizabeth (Chloé Cunha).

Elizabeth and Fantine
I don’t really want to spoil more but will say Naga and Giltine are two of a group of women who were exiled years before and the women (and men) have been around so long that they have forgotten much of their own past and history. The film explores female self determination to a degree but more forcefully explores religious fanaticism. Both the women and men worship Bathor but both interpret the “holy” word differently and are at war because of it. The destructive, erroneous, pretentious and deceitful message of organised religions is the target here.

the twins
There are most definitely Rollin-esque aspects – several I have already mentioned but the inclusion of twins is yet another aspect and well done. The film, despite its inspiration and the fact that they often had a sexploitation basis, is actually rather chaste – there is some nudity (male and female) but no real sexploitation element. Where the film struggled, for me, was less in the stagey feel – which one felt was deliberate – but in the narrative.

fighting stance
As obvious as the film’s underlying treatise was, the plot’s narrative and background opened more questions than it answered. These factions had been at war for such an expanded period of time, apparently, but their numbers were small. One wondered at this. One wondered at what the female vampires (for, of course, that is what they are) feed upon. Whilst we see the returned exile women feed on the men we do not see the village women feed (it is mentioned in passing). Perhaps a little more illumination of such things might have helped.

the blood of Bathor
The film will stand or fall on whether you appreciate 70s Euro-horror and arthouse movies. If the answer is yes then this proves to be a solid homage. You can also see the fact that, without a knowledge of these films and the background gleaned through character names, the lack of a clear exposition might prove distracting. I liked where this was coming from but found that it was, unfortunately, missing something at its very core – maybe because it was a homage rather than actually being that thing which it based itself upon? 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Michael J. Epstein said...

Thanks for checking it out and taking the time to write it up. We actually added a scene showing the women feeding pretty recently, so I'm guessing you saw this a little bit back. We decided after our first screening in March that it was a missing piece for a lot of people. It's around 17:55 if you're curious to see it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Michael - thanks for taking time to comment. Yes, I watched it pretty much as we got access to the screening but the review had been sat on for a little while for various reasons. I will certainly check that new scene out.

Any news on commercial release?

Michael J. Epstein said...

We're doing festivals for the rest of 2016 most likely, so my best guess is spring 2017, but we have not really even started shopping to distributors yet, so really anything could happen.