Plot: Times are tough all over, which is why the Norris family is open to working in a run down, creepy old carnival. After all, they have to make ends meet even if it means dealing with a total freak like Mr. Bean (Tom Markus). While her parents settle in, young Vena Norris (Janine Carazo) gets to know some of the other carnies on staff. She strikes up a quick friendship with Tunnel of Love operator Kit (Chris Thomas), despite the fact that her boyfriend is due to arrive soon. She soon begins to notice how strange the other workers are and how parts of the carnival are shrouded in mystery. This includes disappearing people and sightings of odd people who almost look like zombies or the like. Her parents have just about had enough of the carnival’s madness when their trailer burns down and it seems like the carnies are out for their blood. Meanwhile, Vena’s boyfriend Johnny (Paul Townsend) finally shows up just as things really start to spiral out of control. What the hell is going on at the carnival and will anyone survive the chaos?
Entertainment Value: I’ve heard people remark that to appreciate certain films or music, one needs to be under the influence of mind altering drugs. In the case of Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood, you get the same experience with no narcotics needed. This is just a mind bending picture that never seems to make sense, but it is so creative and unique, you wouldn’t want it to. This movie was thought to be lost for decades, only to storm back and mystify modern audiences. The real carnival locations lend great authenticity to the movie, while the creative and unusual visual design choices will have you debating whether the movie is artistic genius or utter nonsense. The scenes with the cannibal ghouls watching old movies on a big screen stand out as highlights to me, as it seems so off the wall, but fitting within the rest of the picture’s oddness. But don’t expect traditional narrative, performances, or coherence of any kind, as Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is more about odd atmosphere and visual madness.
No nudity is found here, but given the cast involved, perhaps that was a wise choice. But there is some blood and the gore is done in a style that will remind genre fans of the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis. You know, hyper red blood and a bargain basement approach, classic low rent exploitation special effects. Most of the blood is non graphic, but there are some spurts and geysers of goop, which is always nice. Perhaps the best gore is when a loud mouth takes a ride on a roller coaster and loses his head. Not as much blood as you’d expect from the title of course, but some decent grue nonetheless. The movie has some good lines you’ll remember, with a couple of them belonging to Fantasy Island star Herve Villechaize. Little Herve rants and raves like a lunatic and while he doesn’t have much screen time, he is put to good use here. The mostly amateur cast is fun to watch and makes even mundane dialogue have the potential for gold. This is a nightmarish, acid trip of a movie that makes little to no sense and has a presence all its own. While not in your face insane, Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood has few scenes that aren’t unsettling, bizarre, or totally incoherent. If you’re a fan of cinema of the strange, this is one you will want to add to your collection.
Overall Insanity: 10/10