The Blood Spattered Bride is yet another horror film that is based upon the novella Carmilla written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, much like The Vampire Lovers that Hammer put out and many other films that often feature vampires with lesbian overtones. As it was one of the first stories to be written about the fabled monsters, it is only natural that it often be referenced or have work based upon it much like Stoker’s Dracula which came a little later. Spanish director and writer Vicente Aranda wanted to not only make a movie about vampires, but one that had a message and as such you can see how the women in the film are portrayed more powerfully than the men. Also known as La Novia Ensangrentada when it was first released all those many years ago, you can see the leading lady Susan as strong and assertive, knowing what she wants when she wants and not letting anyone tell her any different. Throughout the film that continues, though her confidence soon wanes with the introduction of another strong woman named Carmilla, or as she is more commonly known, Mircalla. Under Mircalla’s dominance, Susan has strange visions of murder and blood which are soon made manifest and when they become entangled in a love affair as well, Susan’s nameless husband takes it upon himself to end what he sees as something unholy.
This was definitely a very engrossing film and you have to give credit to Aranda for trying something a little new with the genre, not to mention portraying the women in such a powerful, if gory light. There is quite a bit of blood at times and there is a reason the film is called The Blood Spattered Bride. Of course there is some nudity and the women are portrayed as sexual and sexualized which has to be expected in a film such as this, but for the most part, the nudity could have been left out and the film still have been just as powerful. What is most intriguing about the film is how the husband does not have a name. He is simply that, the husband, and it lessens him in importance throughout the film as opposed to the women of the movie. Through much of the film, it does look as if the husband is controlling Susan, but in fact if you pay attention, it is the complete opposite as Susan rules him. It is only when Carmilla enters the picture that the focus of power tends to shift until the final scene of the movie when the husband takes it back in a very shocking moment.
Maribel Martín stars as Susan and Simón Andreu as her husband. Martín is fantastic in the role who gives off that assertiveness that was mentioned as well as a vulnerability too. You almost want to give her a hug to make her feel better at various times but then think twice about it because you would probably end up with a dagger in the back. Simón Andreu for his sake plays the frustrated husband really well. Andreu gives the husband that illusion of confidence and you can see him weakening throughout the film and when it breaks, that look on his face is not only one of horror but of realization. Alexandra Bastedo is the vampiress Carmilla, the woman who wants Susan for her own both mind and body. She is frightening to behold at times, with a cold, cruel and manipulative look in her eyes and it gives the picture a slightly more dangerous edge because of her involvement, she is that talented.
Anyone looking for a good horror film would be wise to give this one a shot as it has all the blood and guts that anyone could ask for, the subtle horror of a vampire seducing their victim as well as the dread of losing control and being controlled. The apprehension and fright that one looks for in a movie of this sort is present on many levels and Aranda did a great job on not only telling his story whose message remains as strong today as it did then, but of framing it in a genre that many have come to love. With lush cinematography provided by Fernando Arribas, striking performances from all involved and a story that never fails to bore, The Blood Spattered Bride is a must-see film for those who love not only Spanish horror films, but horror in general.