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Attendees at a horror-film convention in San Francisco keep disappearing. It turns out that the guest of honor is a real vampire, and his henchmen are kidnapping the convention guests. A horror writer, a Sherlock Holmes fan and an Israeli Nazi-hunter set out to stop him. Written by
Horror genre icon John Stanley of 'Creature Features' fame does a nice job with this very knowing, fairly tongue in cheek homage to the genre. Its central conceit is a solid one, and prefigures "Shadow of the Vampire" by 23 years. It also proved to be very prophetic in its portrayal of a horror convention, long before these things would be very big business worldwide. The people behind this convention, including Professor Seabrook (Dan Caldwell), Cindy (Barrie Youngfellow), Scotty (John Cochran), and comic book expert Gary form a team as they slowly come to the realization that their star attraction, veteran horror film actor Malakai (Jerry Walter), is not just a pretend vampire but the real deal. Moreover, he utilizes the services of B.B. (Ray K. Goman) and Harris (Hy Pyke), who are in reality the legendary graverobbers Burke and Hare whom Malakai has kept alive for centuries using alchemy. Our intrepid team unites behind Nazi hunter turned vampire hunter The Avenger (Mark Anger), who's vowed to destroy this evil. Now, "Nightmare in Blood" is not for all genre fans, as it's low budget enough that it's often more talk than action. Some people may grow impatient with its deliberate pace and its minimal amount of gore. Still, it's impossible to dislike this film. It's ingratiating and irresistible, and it's always nice to see a film meant for genre fans made BY a genre fan. The dialogue is often very amusing, and often quite self-referential, with names such as Lee, Price, Atwill, Lugosi, and Karloff dropped. There is brief footage of a film within the film, as fantasy film star Kerwin Mathews appears alongside Walter. His appearance is fleeting enough that his admirers will likely be sorely disappointed. Still, Stanley does give this little film some atmosphere and gets a delightfully theatrical performance out of Walter, who looks like he's having a hell of a time. Most of the acting is very much of the amateur variety, but the performers are quite engaging nonetheless; the man playing Gary in particular is a hoot what with his deadpan delivery. And Justin Bishop is a riot as anti-horror crusader Dr. Unworth; his acting is atrocious but his facial expressions just priceless. The scenes with Seabrook, Unworth, and Malakai on the TV horror show have to rank as the best in the film. It's likewise great to see our heroes think on their feet when faced with the prospect of killing foes that are seemingly immortal. While admittedly "Nightmare in Blood" is going to strike some people as being merely dull, others will surely find it fascinating, even if one couldn't consider it a "good" film. It's still an entertaining one, though. Seven out of 10.
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