The Good, The Bad & The Bloody: Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) & Blood Money (1974)

I’m sure like many of my fellow movie fans, you’ve had good and bad luck when it comes to movies with “blood” or one of its variants in the title. Take Bloody Mama for example, that movie’s a total piece of shit, but First Blood? Great stuff. I had similar results with the last two movies I watched with blood in the title. Hell’s Bloody Devils look like just another 70s motorcycle movie, something like Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels and other movies that inspired 2008’s Hell Ride. Instead, the biker element ended up being secondary to something even more complex: a secret agent trying to hunt down an escaped Nazi who’s using the biker gang for his nefarious plans. It’s a really ambitious movie and I wish I had paid better attention. As I mentioned, I didn’t have high expectations for it. I was just looking for something to have on in the background one night so it was about 20 minutes in when I realized I wasn’t paying enough attention and there were spies and Nazis and not just jackholes on motorcycles (which is how it starts and ends). Unlike some movies which seem like they’re trying to shove more and more crud into a tiny bag, Hell’s Bloody Devils seemed to do a great job of balancing some somewhat disparate elements into a cohesive story without playing outside the field their low budget could afford. I say “seem” because I unfortunately wasn’t paying enough attention. If this one comes back to Netflix Instant (my queue told me it was on it’s way to wherever movies go when they’re no longer available to watch instantly, which is why I watched it yesterday).

Even more interesting, and sad, to me is the story of director Al Adamson. I haven’t ever seen one of his movies, but he apparently made a fairly decent career of making these action-filled B movies. Well, apparently, according to his IMDb bio page, he was murdered by his live in carpenter named Fred Fulford. Fulford killed Adamson and buried the body in cement under the bathroom the carpenter was working on and then tiled over it. But that wasn’t all, after killing Adamson Fulford used Adamson’s identity while he tried to escape, but was eventually picked up in Florida (Adamson lived in California), tried and sentenced to 25 years to life. That’s nuts right? Nuts enough to inspire me to get back to writing, that’s how nuts.

Far less inspiring, and good, was Blood Money, which I had much higher hopes for than Hell’s Bloody Devils. Expectations really can ruin a movie, can’t they? This was an actual disc rental from Netflix. I didn’t even remember what it was about when I got it in the mail and then I looked it up and saw the poster. “Oh yeah, the one that’s like Shanghai Noon but from the 70s and with Lee Van Cleef,” I reminded myself, “Should be cool.”

It’s not. At all. Sure, Van Cleef is cool, but that and a very few cool kung fu moves by costar Lo Lieh are the only good parts of this movie. Other than that this movie is an incomprehensible mess and I don’t think it has anything to do with it being a Spanish/Italian production (I can’t quite tell which is more prominent but the actual title of the movie is El karate, el Colt y el impostor, which means exactly what you think it does). There’s an incredibly weird series of sequences early in the movie where Van Cleef is breaking into a vault which has a series of doors (like getting into the Get Smart headquarters). The weird thing is that each door has a photo of what looks like a prostitute’s butt. Each photo turns into a scene showing an Asian man looking at her butt. This goes on four or five times and didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

Okay, so that story’s confusing at least the kung fu’s gotta be cool, right? Nope. Aside from having the weirdest cartoon sound effects every time Lieh does anything taking away from any dramatic tension (like a slide whistle as he jumps through the air to attack someone), the fight choreography is just lame. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Tony Jaa movies make it look like dudes are really getting the shit busted up, but in this, you can clearly see Lieh’s fist stopping a foot away from an attacker’s face and him flipping away from it. Really terrible stuff. I left it on for about a half hour longer than I probably should have, but it was on and I didn’t learn much about the story. Van Cleef and Lieh meet in jail, team up and go after…someone. There’s more bad fights and whatnot. One other thing I wanted to mention is that this DVD has one of the weirdest menus I’ve ever seen. The main screen just has a picture from the film and then options at the bottom. But the only options are Play and then a list of chapters all in one row. Strange. Hey, avoid this one. Seriously.

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