Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Bloody Judge

The Bloody Judge Directed by Jess Franco. Starring Christopher Lee (1970).
   Jess Franco out does himself with this take on a different witchfinder, one sanctioned by the burning court to persecute suspected traitors both real and imaginary, Judge George Jeffreys is played by Christopher Lee. I am a sucker for witch burning flicks and this one is pretty good, not as vile and repulsive as Mark Of The Devil, but it's the second film with a British horror pro, the first being Vincent Price as the cruel Matthew Hopkins in Witchfinder General.
   All innocent victims are thrown on the flames of tyranny and irrationalism during Middle Age England. Christopher Lee is decked out in powdered wig and dalmatian collared robe. Like all the witch condemning authority of other films in the genre, Jeffries is a total horn dog, that takes out his sexual frustration on innocent girls, he's also a wiz on the pipe organ and a lurid philanthropist. The executioner is played by resident Franco staple, Howard Vernon and he's the lucky chap who gets to brand women and torture down in the dungeon. Vernon looks super creepy in his executioner get-up and his face reminds me of this horrid vintage halloween mask (the hooded henchmen one).
Are you as happy as I am?

   Many of the citizens in this film are hideous, with jagged teeth, unibrows and loose fitting bowl wigs, only pretty females in town are accused of witchcraft. The attractive Gray sisters are captured, first Alicia is burned alive before her sibling and put to death. Mary tries to escape with her boyfriend on a boat to the New World, but the idiot is connected to Judge Jeffreys co-worker and the bloody judge finds out. 
   Franco seems more concerned with historical re-enactments and cannon battles then showing scenes of naked female torture like most witch burning films. This time period is after Cromwell's death and you don't need to rely on the history to figure out what's going on. I admire this commitment and it's definitely not what you want from a smut peddler like Jess Franco. 
Satchel likes his chicken spicy

   Satchel, a mutilated henchmen to Judge Jeff, beats on wenches and calls them sluts, he is jealous of Mary and her boyfriend.  
   This is the unrated version and there is some abrupt German scenes during the last 30 minutes (hence the subs in the shot of Lee). At one point the evil judge sentences 50 people to have their entrails ripped out and then shoved down their throats! now I don't know about you, but that seems excessive! 
taste's like a schnozzberry

   There's a crazy scene where Mary methodically licks the blood off of a nearly dead women's body as the henchmen leer at this sight. The German scenes are crucial and make the Bloody Judge go from historical to sleazy Franco territory, where we all know he's a master craftsmen! Mary is supposedly defiled by the Judge in exchange for her boyfriend's freedom (some stunt hands (not Lee's) are used for the sex scene). Even if you were to fall asleep during the history lesson, you don't really need it to follow along. This is one of my favorite Jess Franco's (and I usually get narcolepsy during his other flicks)! It's an early example of a decent witchburning flick besides the more famous ones (like Witchfinder and The Devils). It was one of the casualties in the Netflix stream-ageddon, so I made sure I re-watched it along with many others. Rest in peace Jess Franco.       
Sorry, we only burn the pretty ones

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