Review : Malatesta’s Carnival Of Blood (1973)

Malatesta’s Carnival Of Blood, directed by Christopher Speech, was released in 1973 and is the director’s only film. The film was thought to be lost for a long time until it was released on DVD in 2003. Since then, it has been restored and released by Arrow Video on the American Horror Project Vol. 1 boxset (which is how I watched it).

The Norris family arrive at an old, dilapidated carnival, looking for their son. Bad things begin happening and it seems to be attributed to the proprietors of the carnival. The entire thing appears to be a front, for some strange, cannibalistic, underground cult, who feast on the flesh of the visitors (source : Wikipedia)

Malatesta’s Carnival Of Blood is a weird film, but not in a good way. Every aspect of the film lacks logic, from the story itself to the editing. The editing is probably the worst aspect of the film since most of the scenes make no sense given the way they are put together. For instance, characters are running around the amusement park at night, chased by ghouls (or are they zombies ? who knows !). After a rough cut which made me feel like the scene was abruptly cut right in the middle, it is daylight and another character is putting out a fire, with no transition from the previous scene.

The storytelling is poorly done and makes no sense and the story itself is poorly written. Though the family is supposed to have come to the amusement park to look for their missing son, they never do so. Another issue I have is characters who never fight back. It does look like they’re willing to let the ghouls kill them…which obviously makes no sense ! As expected from an exploitation film from the seventies, the acting is not very good but is decent enough not to put you off. There is one particular character who is laughable though, because he is portrayed in a ridiculous manner.

If that wasn’t enough, Malatesta’s Carnival Of Blood has mediocre photography. I love movies which take place in somewhat original locations such as a mall, a factory or…an amusement park (which does seem like the perfect location for a horror movie). Unfortunately, the director never takes full advantage of the opportunities offered by the set designs. Whether a scene takes place in a tunnel or a spiral staircase, the camera is set in the most basic and easiest spot. 

I am understanding when it comes to special effects and make-up because there is so much filmmakers can do with a limited budget. However, Malatesta’s Carnival Of Blood has poor writing, poor photography, poor editing and is overall a poorly made film. Obviously, I don’t recommend watching it…except if, like me, you are digging through Arrow Video’s American Horror Project Vol. 1 boxset.

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