A walk into the woods is a primal human experience, like staring at the ocean. It re-connects us with the infinite and the subconscious. We feel fear, and irresistible expectation. Though real forests have finite borders, in the subjectivity of our psyches, anything can happen under the cover of the treetops—and that's part of what we love about the woods. It's a theme that's been explored by auteurs from Shakespeare to Sam Raimi, and in horror films from Equinox to The Blair Witch Project and beyond.
What might a stateless, flashback-ridden Vietnam vet find on a walk into the woods in 1972? That question is more than answered by the deliciously oddball American film Blood Sabbath, which despite its obvious lack of resources, comes off inventive, low-key, and generally well done—in contrast to the (nonetheless beloved by me) Euro-schlock horror/fantasy pictures of the same period. Blood Sabbath is also packed with top-shelf cult talent: David, the hapless young soldier, is played by Tony Geary, later to become Anthony Geary, and achieve global notoriety playing Luke on General Hospital (thankfully, Blood Sabbath is pre-perm); and Alotta, Queen of the Witches (yes—you read that right) is played by none other than Dyanne Thorne, world-renown for her tenure playing Ilsa in all the Ilsa movies.
Our hero David, for whatever reason, runs in terror from three aggressively playful, stark-naked hippie girls who ambush him early on in the film, yet moments later has no problem falling irreversibly and painfully in love with a mysterious lady of the lake who's wearing a very distracting wig. (As my wife put it, Yyalah, said lady of the lake, is "magical.") See what happens later in the story when David, now under Alotta's power, hungrily accepts a chalice of sacrificial blood—this clip of David's ritual-induced fever dream is most definitely not safe for work. View below or download in m4v format to have and hold.
There are some scenes in Blood Sabbath that have to be seen to be believed. The actual blood ritual, for example, is preceded by a frenzy of improvised, naked hippie-chick dancing, all the while accompanied by some righteous and truly spectacular dark psych-rock. The scenes of Alotta's lair are also quite captivating, especially when the witch queen is playing opposite the severed head of the village priest. The whole film reeks of a very wrong, fabricated universe, like a Star Trek episode trying to crawl its way out of a k-hole.
One final note: It took the efforts of some crafty Belgians to point me to this American "classic," which had previously passed under my finely tuned horror radar. The crew at Funeral Folk recently released a limited CDr, a choice 20-minute soundtrack rip of music and dialogue from Blood Sabbath, and after hearing said disc, I became obsessed with hunting down the actual film, which is currently out of print on Region 1 DVD. You can contact Funeral Folk at the above link—I believe they still have copies left.