It could be debatable that one should include “Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood”, from the year 1972, as one of the best horror movies on Tubi, which it certainly is not. But for fans of bizarre movies, it is gold. It’s a relatively obscure horror movie. I love bizarre movies, and to find one like this one on a streamer delights me.
A family of squares, the Norrises, go to live to a down-on-its-knees carnival managed by a ghoul master Malatesta and a Mr. Blood, the vampiric impresario of the carnival. The Norris family spirals down on a ride of trouble because there’s something very wrong with the place.
Soon after the Norrises arrive bad stuff begins to happen in the carnival. Some of the carnival’s employees, one of them the fortune lady, which is a transvestite (Lenny Baker), start giving Vena (Janine Carazo), the daughter of the Norris family, a hard time.
Mr. Blood, who hired the Norris family to work in the carnival is alarmingly eccentric, and the rest of the staff are even eerier. And forget everything about going for a walk at night around this carnival, because you will meet a litter stick with your name on it.
The scenes featuring Bobo (Hervé Villechaize) disconcerting Vena with poetical psycho-babble weirded me out. They are foreboding, but they are also semi-comic reliefs that prepare you for the scenes featuring the darker dealings going on and the more evil characters. Like mister Bean, Sticker, and the two leading creeps, Blood and Malatesta, are up to.
Another thing this movie made me feel was repulsion for one of the bad guys, Sticker (William Preston), like I had never felt for others. It may be that he looks like just a feeble old-timer with a crazy, out-of-control out, but his personality is very different from what his looks suggest.
This movie tries to be too many things for a single movie, and it shows. The story is pretty much of a mess because it’s about psychopaths, a carnival, spoiled brats, vampires, cannibalism, and ghouls.
If you can look beyond the narrative imbalance caused by the mixture of genres, it is of interest. I liked to be watching 1972’s take on zombies and comparing them to contemporary ones, I can say the way a zombie is supposed to act has come a long way.
I loved, and I mean LOVED, that it was set on a carnival. It’s so dark, thrilling and decadent, that it was the thing I liked the most about the movie. Still, the scenes that happen inside of the dark rides of the carnival could have been much better and the props aren’t that great.
I say thrilling because if you know some occultism, you know that ghosts, and other entities like them, like to hang around these kinds of places.
There are no ghosts in the movie, but a subtext of a situation like the one in the movie, a carnival of degenerates, could be that they are demons and psychopaths because ghosts, demons, and other aberrant inorganic beings possessed them.
What did this Bizarre Movie Teach me?
One thing I learned from this movie was that in the seventies it was okay to make a horror movie that makes a salad with genres at the moment of deciding on its genre, and then adding to it some backstory that wants to pass as a subtext that is memorable for its bluntness instead of subtlety.
Let me explain, it’s not so obvious that the Norrises went to work for Blood, and Malatesta, the vampire capo underneath the amusement venue, because something happened before in the carnival to someone that the Norrises knew, and they were there in a mission of vengeance.
But all this is dumped on the audience in just a single line. If you miss that line, you miss the whole backstory of “Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood”.
It looks great for a fan of horror and cultish obscure movies. It’s downright a must-watch if your hobby, passion, or favorite leisure are theme parks, amusement parks, funfairs, carnival, and similar leisure venues.
While this movie is kind of similar, don’t expect something at the level of “The Funhouse” because it’s not. The dark ride craftsmanship that went into the interior scenes of this movie is inferior even to the atmosphere created by the creepy props inside of the dying room of “Tourist Trap”.