Blu-ray Release: October 11, 2022 (standard edition release)
Audio: English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Run Time: 92:57 (complete cut)/86:45 (‘horror’ version)
Director: Alejandro Martí
In 18th century Cornwall, dark arts dabbler Count Dartmoor (George Rigaud) obtains an Egyptian sarcophagus and opens it to find a perfectly preserved man. The man proves to be the son of a high priest who was buried alive for heresy. Revived by electricity, the ‘mummy’ uses his telepathic powers to lure the young women, so that he can consume their blood for sustenance. (From Mondo Macabro’s official synopsis)
If you brush aside the cobwebs and dig deep into the dusty, forgotten archives of European exploitation cinema, you might find Alejandro Martí’s Love Brides of the Blood Mummy (Spanish: El Secreto de la Momia Egipcia; aka: Lips of Blood [not to be confused with the Jean Rollin movie, 1973) – a largely forgotten combination of classic horror, inspired by the revivals of Hammer and Paul Naschy, and softcore sex, at least if you’re lucky enough to see the international cut, which is free of Spain’s Franco regime’s required censorship. This already rare film joins the rare ranks of trashy mummy movies, alongside Stephen C. Apostolof’s Orgy of the Dead (1965), Rafael Portillo’s Aztec Mummy trilogy (1957, ‘58), Seth Holt’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (certainly the trashiest of the Hammer mummy movies, 1971), Frank Agrama’s Dawn of the Mummy (1981), and Naschy’s own Vengeance of the Mummy (Spanish: La Venganza de la Momia, 1973; directed by Carlos Aured).
Martí only directed two movies: this one and Elisabet (1968), a film so obscure that IMDb.com doesn’t have a plot synopsis or single user rating. He did act as screenwriter and producer on a few more movies, but his time behind the camera was quite limited. It’s surprising to say, then, that Love Brides of the Blood Mummy’s greatest strength is its occasionally unique visual choices. Probably understanding that their script – from Vincent Didier and future Crypt of the Living Dead (Spanish: La tumba de la isla maldita, 1973) director Julio Salvador – and basic production design weren’t up to the standards of some of his contemporaries, Martí and cinematographer Raymond Heil (a Z-grade veteran who also shot Pierre Chevalier’s Orloff and the Invisible Man [French: La vie amoureuse de l'homme invisible, 1970] and Juan Fortuny’s Crimson: The Color of Blood [Spanish: Las ratas no duermen de noche, 1976]) took notice of their somber and beautiful locations and decided to inject a bit of contemplative lyricality and Gothic punch to the proceedings.
Love Brides of the Blood Mummy initially presents itself as a stuffy, budget-conscious, post-Hammer costume drama and this offers valuable contrast, as perversity and casual violence slowly creeps into the mix. Gore is infrequent and relatively mild, but, when it rears its head, it does so with a surprising degree shock. There are also a handful of effectively shot chase & capture sequences that keep things moving between slow stretches, including one shot through high grass from the pursuer's point-of-view, another along a beachside initially seen only from afar, another where the pursued claims the high ground and pulls a musket on her pursuer as he crawls through roofing tiles, and a final horseback escape set to dreamy prog-rock a whole two years before Goblin hooked up with Dario Argento on Deep Red (Italian: Profondo Rosso, 1975). And, hey, if you’re only here for the nudity and kinky stuff, there are plenty of scenes where the mummy strips, fondles, flogs, and has (reasonably explicit) softcore sex with his victims. To top things off, the film also briefly features charmingly effective stop-motion snakes and severed hands.
Considering its obscurity, it’s no surprise that you basically couldn’t see Love Brides of the Blood Mummy in the years leading up to this Mondo Macabro Blu-ray release. I could only find evidence of a PAL VHS from Spanish company IVS and that tape didn’t include English language options. Mondo’s disc premiered in June of 2022 as a limited edition on their website (one of their red box specials) and coincides with French company Le Chat Qui Fume’s Blu-ray/4K UHD combo release. I don’t have that disc at my disposal for a direct comparison, but I’m assuming they’re derived from the same source scan. This Blu-ray may be lacking the extra UHD resolution, but it does have the advantage of having two different cuts of the film. The Spanish exploitation industry tended to make alternate versions of their films for markets that prioritized or censored violence and/or sex, so this disc includes the all-horror, light nudity version and an extended cut, which includes all of the sex, nudity, and violence.
Overall, this 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer is pretty impressive for what was essentially a ‘lost’ movie. There’s plenty of detail, the blacks are deep when needed without crushing anything important, and there aren’t many intrusive artifacts, print-based or digital. Coloring is nice, though it does lean reddish, which is a common sign of an aging source. Thankfully, red is a common theme color and the lush outdoor greens are rarely affected. Grain levels exhibit a touch of CRT noise during certain shots/scenes, but are largely tight and natural.
Love Brides of the Blood Mummy is presented with English and French language dub options. As per usual, it, like many Spanish films from the period, was most likely shot without on-set sound, so all language tracks are dubbed. This was also an international production with Spanish filmmakers and mixed nationality actors (mostly Italians, Spaniards, and French people) working under French producers and distributors. I don’t honestly know if a Spanish dub ever existed. In this case, I’m going to recommend the English dub for various reasons. Mix-wise, the French dialogue overwhelms sound effects and is slightly muffled, while the English track exhibits quite a bit of dynamic range. I also found myself preferring the English vocal performances, especially the narration, even though the French lip sync is obviously superior. The extended cut is missing some English language inserts, so the dub will occasionally flip to French with English subtitles. As mentioned above, composer Max Gazzola’s mixed psychedelic prog-rock and string quartet style score is a major highlight. His cues aren’t as consistently recycled as you might hear from similar films (especially out of Italy) and the music really helps set an off-kilter mood and adds considerable production value.
Commentary by David Flint (extended version only) – The critic, film historian, and writer at Reprobate Press does his very best to give us a proper behind-the-scenes look at this elusive film. He breaks down the known cast & crew (including a description of the identity of the actual director), does his best to describe the plot, and explains the need for multiple edits.
Lips of Blood export trailer, French Le sang des autres (Lips of Blood) trailer, and French Perversions Sexuelles trailer
Alternate Sequences (19:59, HD) – This includes clothed scenes, topless only scenes (underwear stays on), and the randiest Perversions Sexuelles scenes.
French opening and closing titles
Still and poster gallery
UK Super-8 cut version (10:47 including text introduction, HD) – This is a shortened version of the film for projection rental in the days before VHS/Beta. Given that it’s told in flashback and has so much filler, this particular movie actually works just fine when chopped down to 10 minutes.
Mondo Macabro trailer reel
The images on this page are taken from the BD and sized for the page. Larger versions can be viewed by clicking the images. Note that there will be some JPG compression.