DOUBLE FEATURE MADNESS:
BLOOD MANIA & POINT OF TERROR
Starring: Peter Carpenter, Maria De Aragon, Vicki Peters, Alex Rocco, Leslie Simms
Written by: Peter Carpenter, Tony Crechales, Toby Sacher
Directed by: Robert Vincent O’Neil
POINT OF TERROR
Starring: Peter Carpenter, Dyanne Thorne, Lory Hansen, Leslie Simms, Joel Marston
Written by: Peter Carpenter, Ernest A. Charles, Tony Crechales, Chris Marconi
Directed by: Alex Nicol
“We’re very young souls. Very young and evil.”
“Yes, very evil…You’ll probably live to be a hundred and ten.”
“Yeah? Why’s that?”
“Only the good die young.”
Currently, going to the movies is a single-film event, but it was not always that way. My dad told me that when he was a kid during the Depression (I am that old), going to a picture show meant featurettes, a newsreel, and two movies — sometimes even singing — all for a dime! When I was a child in the 1960s and 1970s, that sort of thing was long gone.
Drive-ins have always had double bills where a current feature is coupled with the return of something from last year or the year before that are thematically linked. The Stallone/Schwarzenegger pairing of Raw Deal and Cobra in 1986 taught me everything I needed to know about being a man. Sometimes, they were odd pairings, such as the Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein and the psychological slasher Toolbox Murders. I once convinced a friend from church to get his dad to take us to see it. Mr. D lasted about 7 minutes into The Toolbox Murders before pulling the plug on the evening.
Sometime during the mid-1970s, a triple horror feature of Blood Mania (1970), Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972), and the 1974 Vincent Price meta-horror film Madhouse made the drive-in rounds. I was around 10 or 11 at that time, so there was no way to see it. But the TV spot was filled with enough weirdness to fuel my imagination for decades. Replete with the most brain-bending bizarro images: undead monks crawling from graves, frightening monsters gathered in a living room, and all the distorted shadows and shapes that can be derived from descending a spiral staircase in the dark. I felt a need to go to those places and explore their environments. While Tombs of the Blind Dead and Madhouse are better known, it was Blood Mania that packed the most punch.
Blood Mania is the story of talented but doomed physician Craig Cooper (Peter Carpenter). The trip to his final undoing is a heavily Giallo-influenced, surreal descent into madness, mayhem, and murder! Soon after the triple feature had moved on, I was able to catch the heavily edited TV version, and it fulfilled all the promise of its eerie commercial. At its bloody heart, Blood Mania is a well-crafted, yet unhinged showpiece of Faustian deals gone wrong, incest, murder, and blackmail. As a bonus, it’s also an all-around feast of gore, sex, and far-out psychedelic visuals.
Leading man Peter Carpenter, with his imposing, 6-foot 4-inch dancer’s body and dark, curly locks, was a multi-talented actor, dancer, teacher, singer, writer, and the producer behind Blood Mania’s follow up, Point of Terror (1971). Sadly, he died while working on a third film.
Carpenter surrounded himself with beautiful women in both films. Blood Mania love interests Vicki Peters and Reagan Wilson were Playboy models and gorgeous leading ladies. Maria De Aragon (Blood Mania) and, recently passed, Dyanne Thorne (Point of Terror, Blood Sabbath, and Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS) were the femme fatales.
Both films seemed to be destined for obscurity until rescued boutique film restoration company Vinegar Syndrome released a beautiful multi-disc set in 2019. The three-disc set includes a Bluray with excellent 2k restorations from the original negative of both films and interviews with Blood Mania director Robert Vincent O’Neill and actress Leslie Simms. Simms was Carpenter’s teacher and friend, and he made sure she had juicy roles in both of his films. Blood Mania also has commentary from O’Neil, Simms, and Vicki Peters — all of whom share very fond memories of Carpenter.
The two other discs, both DVDs, contain DVD versions of the films on one and the edited-for-television versions (which is how I first saw Blood Mania) on the other. Both films have been beautifully restored from their original negatives. It allows for the eye-catching color photography to leap off the screen.
Point of Terror is very similar to Blood Mania, except that instead of a doctor, Carpenter plays Tony Trelos, a struggling singer trying to wrangle a record deal by wooing the wife of a music producer. The remastered audio on the Vinegar Syndrome set is crisp and clear, giving Carpenter’s musical performances full expression.
Gratefully, I got my copy before Vinegar Syndrome sold out of this special edition. I could not imagine my collection without these beautiful copies of movies that shaped my love of horror from such an early age.