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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cauldron of Blood aka 'Blind Man's Bluff' aka "El coleccionista de cadáveres" [Blu-ray]


(Santos Alcocer, 1970)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Robert D. Weinbach Productions

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:33.926 

Disc Size: 19,755,732,727 bytes

Feature Size: 19,557,771,264 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.92 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 14th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 941 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 941 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)



• English - Burned in for Spanish dialogue



• None





Description: Also known as Cauldron of Blood, Blind Man's Bluff is a Spanish-made horror film long on gore but short on logic. Several beautiful models have disappeared, and the prime suspect is blind sculptor Boris Karloff, a surly and secretive sort who produces skeletal statues. Lovely model Rosanda Monteros tries to get to the bottom of the mystery, and of course nearly winds up a victim herself. The killer is not Karloff but his wife Viveca Lindfors, who hopes to sustain her husband's reputation by providing fresh skeletons for his artwork. Lindfors ends up hoisted on her own petard when she accidentally dips her arm in a vat of acid. Yeccch!



The Film:

Santos Alcocer’s Cauldron of Blood (1970) (AKA Blind Man’s Bluff) was filmed in 1967, but languished on the shelf until its release three years later (to little fanfare, despite its potential marketing as one of horror icon Boris Karloff‘s last films). Where Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968) was a low-rent knock off of Black Sunday (1960), Cauldron is an equally low-rent rip of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and House of Wax (1953).

Karloff co-stars with veteran Viveca Lindfors (who is possibly best know as the queen who aroused Errol Flynn in 1948’s The Adventures of Don Juan). Cauldron was shot almost entirely in Spain, and is remembered only as an accidental idiosyncrasy from late in Karloff’s career.

Cauldron of Blood is not a good film, but it is a queer film, quite unlike anything else in the Karloff cannon, which may be explained by the fact that Karloff was not even the preferred choice for the role of the blind sculptor Badulescu. Producer Robert D. Weinbach had wanted Claude Rains, but Karloff was brought into the project after Rains was found to be terminally ill (Rains died during the pre-production stage of the film). Karloff is not even top-billed, which was an extreme and curious rarity.

Excerpt from 366 Weird Movies located HERE


Travel writer Claude Marchand (Jean-Pierre Aumont of Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT, dubbing himself in the English version) gets assigned to interview reclusive sculptor Franz Badulescu (Boris Karloff) who resides in a Spanish artists’ colony. Arriving in the picturesque under-touristed area, Marchand immediately strikes a deal with restaurant owner Shanghai (Milo Quesada, BLACK SABBATH) to buy up the beachfront property and promote the town to tourists. Through artist Valerie (Ingrid Pitt look-a-like Rosenda Monteros), Claude meets Badulescu and his imperious wife Tanya (the always delightful Viveca Lindfors – next to her turns in CREEPSHOW and BELL FROM HELL, this is my favorite performance of hers) who controls all dealings with her blind and crippled husband; who himself is unaware that the skeletons used as armatures for his famous sculptures are locals picked off by an unseen strangler rather than being illegally obtained through arrangements with cemeteries in the neighboring villages as he has been told by his wife. The killings go largely unnoticed by our jet-setting main characters until perpetually-sunbathing Elga (Dianik Zurakowska of RETURN OF THE ZOMBIS) disappears after spending the night at Tanya’s and Claude finally listens to the superstitious mutterings of the Queen of the Gypsies (Mercedes Rojo) who predicts more deaths to come including someone close to Claude.

Excerpt from Eric Cotenas at Love,Lockand Load located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Cauldron of Blood has a modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films but the film's limited production quality is more the issue with the presentation. Shot on location in Spain - certain scenes with locales (the opening sequenced and forced subtitle insertions) are fraught with light scratches. This is only single-layered but this weaknesses are more the condition of the source. The majority of the film is clean with solid colors. The 1080P shows some decent outdoor sequences which naturally, looked the best. Detail is modest and there is no real depth but there is some grain and this may be a close approximation of how Cauldron of Blood looked almost 45-years ago. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering but it nevr comes close to reaching the highest standards if the HD format, although it will probably never look any better.
















Audio :

The DTS-HD mono track at 944 kbps is fairly flat with no demonstrative depth or range to speak of but it seems a faithful transfer with a few rough edges here and there. We get somewhat of a score by Ray Ellis + José Luis Navarro but it seems less effectual and unremarkable in the uncompressed.  There burned-in subtitles for some of the film's Spanish dialogue and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with most of their releases.



I would have to agree with the general consensus in accepting that Cauldron of Blood is a mess. Poor Boris Karloff. It's one of his weakest films. The bare-bones Blu-ray doesn't offer a any value - except the rare few who appreciate this poor-quality genre.

Gary Tooze

October 6th, 2014


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