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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"The Bloody Judge" is unquestionably one of Jess Franco's finest accomplishments, and there are several elements that contributed to this. First of all, Christopher Lee depicts another unforgettably mean-spirited and frightening horror protagonist. This doesn't always guarantee a great movie, mind you, as Franco and Lee previously collaborated to make a couple of sequels in the Fu Manchu series, and they were dreadfully boring films. The character of medieval witch hunter Judge Jeffries clearly suits Lee a whole lot better than the oddly mustached oriental master-criminal and his performance confirms this. Secondly, for one of the few times during his entire career, Jess Franco could actually rely on a decent budget! There was enough money for fancy costumes and atmospheric scenery, and even the editing and cinematography were clearly handled professionally. Finally, you can hardly go wrong with the subject matter of medieval witch-hunting, political corruptness, vile torture footage and robust executions. Although clearly inspired by the popularity of "Witchfinder General" (starring Vincent Price), "The Bloody Judge" contains more than enough own ideas and ingenuity to be considered as a success in its own right. The film opens with the extended and compelling trial of a young girl accused of witchcraft, leading to her relentless execution burning at the stake. The long opening adequately introduces the character of Judge Jeffries, but the actual plot only unfolds after this. The executed girl's sister flees up the country and falls in love with the son of an eminent politician, who also happens to rebel against the corrupt English crown. The obsessive Judge Jeffries orders his followers to capture all the rebels and submit them to torture, but the army of William of Orange is slowly approaching England to conquer the crown. The amounts of graphic violence and especially gratuitous sleaze are admirably kept rather low, and this in favor of character development and tension building. Naturally, there are a handful of brutal sequences on display (notably the "interrogation" of poor Alicia) but "The Bloody Judge" is mainly story & atmosphere-driven. Franco regular Howard Vernon (Dr. Orloff!) has a small but terrific role as the sneering executioner Ketch. Like another reviewer already stated, Vernon here strangely resembles Marty Feldman when he played Igor in "Young Frankenstein". Maria Rohm is enticing and beautiful as ever playing Mary or "that wench" as people insist on referring to her. "The Bloody Judge" is a good film that easily deserves a spot in my Jess Franco top five, alongside "The Diabolical Dr. Z", "The Awful Dr. Orloff", "Faceless" and "Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun".
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