|The Bloody Judge (1970)
| Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono. 102 minutes
Jess Franco has been called it all in his prolific
career (well if you would call directing over
180 films 'prolific'). From genius
to pornographer; comments made about him vary
from each picture he assembles to the point that
some may completely change their minds about him
from film to film. One thing that can be said
about Franco though is that he never lets it stop
him from doing what he loves, even if he is never
satisfied with his own product. Always a dissident
against the norm, Franco's success can be
attributed to his sense of professionalism when
it comes to making a film on time, and within
budget. In some cases, Franco was able to have
films finished simultaneously.
|Director: Jess Franco
Lee, Maria Schell, Leo Genn, Hans Hass Jr., Maria
Rohm, Margaret Lee
Country: Italy/ Spain/Germany
AKA: Il Trono di fuoco;
Night of the Blood Monster; Trial of the Witches
This film, The Bloody Judge,
is based on the life of Judge George Jeffries.
Born in 1648, Jeffries became Lord Chief Justice
of England at age 33 under disliked Catholic King
James II. Jefferies was generally known not as
'The Bloody Judge', but 'The
Hanging Judge', due to the penalty handed
out to approximately 300 rebels at the trials
of the allies of the Duke of Monmouth. Jeffries
died of kidney disease at aged 44 while being
hidden in the Tower of London after King James
II was deposed by his sister and her husband William.
This film seems to be a Witchfinder
General wannabe. Made two years after
that Vincent Price vehicle, The Bloody
Judge tells the tale of Judge George
Jeffries (Christopher Lee) who defends King James
II by finding dissidents against the crown, and
when there is no concrete evidence of treason,
accusing them of witchcraft and having them executed.
Mary Grey's (Maria Rohm) sister Alicia (Margaret
Lee) is accused of such a crime and pleads for
her life at the trial, but will not repay the
Judge's leniency with sexual favors, and
so she is burned at the stake. Mary's perils do
not end there however, for she falls for Harry
Selton (Hans Hass Jnr), son of the Earl of Wessex
(Leo Genn) who is plotting against the king, and
if found out will be put before the Bloody Judge
One of the alternate titles for this film, as
can be seen in the trailers on this disc, is Night
of the Blood Monster, which is like calling
James Cameron's Titanic 'Night of the Blood Iceberg'. The
Bloody Judge is a politically driven
period drama with unnecessary pieces of nudity
and torture to provide meager titillation. The
man who was once declared to be 'the most
dangerous filmmaker for Catholics' by the
Catholic church just seems to have run out of
steam here. To me it just seems that this film
didn't know if it wanted to go for Hammer
styled gothic-ness, or exploitation, and while
it almost delivers on both counts, it seems somehow
unsatisfying. This is not to take away from Franco's
style or Lee's presence, or most of the
actors for that matter; it just seems on occasion
to be directionless.
One major problem I had with this film was the
performance of Franco regular Howard Vernon, who
portrays executioner Jack Ketch. Initially Vernon
attemps to riff Boris Karloff in the Dark
Tower, but ends up looking just a little
bit too much like Marty Feldman in Young
Frankenstein to be taken completely seriously.
Luckily, anytime the lovely Maria Rohm was on
screen, I could almost forget about it.
|An occasional artifact does not suppress the fact
that this is a pretty decent 16x9 widescreen transfer
of a 30 something year old film. The colours remain
bright and vivid, and the picture is clear throughout.
|This feature is presented in mono, but that doesn't
alter the fact that Lee has THE voice for horror,
and it booms out of the speakers.
|Bloody Jess (25 mins) is a series of interviews
with Franco and Lee about the production of this
film and several others they made together. Lee's
knowledge of English history is exhaustive, and
their collective memories of this film are interesting.
Deleted Scene (5 mins 50 secs) is a deleted scene
of Mary's lament after the death of her sister
which has been sourced from a bootleg VHS, so the
quality is lackluster.
There are four alternative scenes (2 mins 7 secs,
1 min 13 secs, 41 secs and 1 minute 20 secs) which
include an alternate opening sequence from the German
There are 3 theatrical trailers (54 secs, 1 min
2 secs and 1 min 57 secs), all for the alternative
title of Night of the Blood Monster,
the third one being for a double feature, The
Night of the Blood Monster and Blood
from the Mummy's Tomb.
TV spot (32 secs) is the TV commercial for the double
feature mentioned above.
The Posters and Stills gallery is divided into several
sections: Posters, German Lobby Cards, US Lobby
Cards, Publicity Stills, Behind the Scenes, US Press
Book, Soundtrack Booklet and Video Covers. This
is an amazing collection of publicity stuff that
is a real credit to the disc.
Talents bios are text bios of Lee and Franco.
|A professional looking period drama, but superfluous
scenes of torture, nudity and lesbianism make The
Bloody Judge a confusing film. Christopher
Lee of course drips evil from every pore, and his
bass baritone voice booms forth with much fearsome
gusto. Franco fans may be disappointed, as will
historical drama fans, as this film tries to be
for both, and while looking pretty and having some
quality acting, it fails to deliver completely to