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Hans Hass Jr.
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Dennis Price was originally cast as Lord Wessex but withdrew at the last moment (he was replaced by Leo Genn). Some film posters and advertising material from the time credit Price as appearing in the movie. See more »
Lord George Jeffreys:
You are all condemned, for crimes against king and kingdom, to hang... to dangle until you are but dead, to be then cut down still alive, to have your entrails drawn out and thrust into your own mouths, to be further hanged, then quartered like the carcasses of beef you are. You number five hundred, but even if you were five thousand, the execution of this sentence would be just before God Almighty... and may He have mercy upon your souls.
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Along with Witchfinder General (1968), The Bloody Judge was part of a small subset of films from the late 60's / early 70's that can best be described as historical horror movies. In these we have a true historical subject which is played up in such a way that it crosses over into the territory of the horror film. Seeing as this was a point in time where there was a plethora of period set costume horror flicks anyway, I suppose it makes a lot of sense that these films were made too. Like a lot of continental offerings from the period, this one throws in a lot of sadistic torture, nudity and sleaze as well and so covers the erotic horror sub-genre too. This is hardly surprising when you take into account that its director was the legendary Jesus Franco who was something of an expert at this kind of thing.
The Bloody Judge came out at a point when Franco was enjoying the most high profile time of his career and so this one like a few others he made at the time is pretty high budgeted by his subsequent standards. It has good locations and a fine cast and benefits from professional editing and photography as well. It was also one of several collaborations Franco had with horror stalwart Christopher Lee too. Unlike their earlier Fu Manchu collaborations, the role of the infamous Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys aka 'The Hanging Judge' was much better suited to Lee. He is very good as this cold central character, although he seemingly was not best pleased at all when he saw the finished film, presumably as a result of the salacious content Franco is famed for. The cast is good beyond Lee too; we have the beautiful Maria Rohm, the fine character actor Leo Genn and last but not least Franco regular Howard Vernon in a great over the top turn as a torturer/executioner.
Like Witchfinder General before it and several others too, this one is set in witch hunting times. It's a period in history peculiarly well suited to horror movies. Most costume horrors tend to be set in the later Victorian period but when we go back further into the far scarier, unenlightened years of the 1600's we are squarely in a historical period where many very horrible things occurred and it is very well suited, therefore, to horror stories. Like most historical films, this one also takes considerable liberties with the actual history to be honest. But let's be fair, lots of critically acclaimed big budget historical movies do exactly the same Braveheart for instance and if they can then why bother complaining if these far smaller films do a similar thing.
For my money this is one of the better Franco films out there. I think the story and central character are good ones for the treatment and the production value is good enough to pull it off. The smattering of salacious content throughout didn't do it any harm and simply added to the entertainment factor to be perfectly honest. This maybe isn't of the level of the more personal delirious Franco efforts such as Vampyros Lesbos but it's definitely one of his most well made. I enjoyed it a fair bit.
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