The short skinny?
Both are a bit imperfect, but I’ll give them separate reviews in order to approach each of them respectfully.
First up: Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary … a kinda/sorta vampire tale that kinda/sorta reaches for the middle ground yet comes up short in ways a bit too obvious.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s product packaging:
“A beautiful American artist named Mary who just so happens to be a vampire living in Mexico has authorities baffled and in full investigation, after her lust for blood has left a trail of bodies across the country …”
Vampires can’t be out in sunlight, and Mary is out in sunlight nearly all the time. Vampires cannot eat regular food (or not without great discomfort and massive bodily reactions), and Mary is shown eating and drinking on more than one occasion. Vampires have noticeable fangs, and … well, I could go on, but instead let me clarify how Mary is vampiric in nature: she has a bloodlust. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more and nothing less. She hunts and she kills for the sole purpose of drinking the blood of her victims … but the script by Don Henderson, Malcolm Marmorstein, and Don Rico never quite explains what she is, where this hunger comes from (to a degree), and why it’s so infrequent (she goes several days between feasts). This ambiguity leaves massive holes in the plot that director Juan Lopez Moctezuma never fills, so let’s at least be all on the same page with that.
The best we are led to believe is that Mary’s condition is genetic, passed down from her father (played by genre legend John Carradine, who enjoys a reasonable amount of screen time in the flick’s second half). Naturally, this need puts her in the position to create a certain technique to both selecting and preying on those she comes into contact with; and it’s there in which the script really toys with its only central motivations. At this point in her life, Mary has a routine for satiating the beast within, but it’s come into conflict in a few unique ways, most of which are tied circumstantially to her latest love, Ben Ryder (David Young). As you might suspect, their relationship inevitably reaches a precarious point, forcing Mary to make that fateful choice to stop playing with her food.
These quibbles aside, I guess it’s safe to say that Mary Mary isn’t a bad film; it’s just feels like an entirely routine affair. The nebulousness of the premise runs from start-to-finish, and there’s no singular performance (either good or bad) that elevates this particular story. The cinematography has a nice feel here and there, but it, too, lacks any distinctiveness to prop this up into the realm of the memorable. At times, Mary Mary feels like it’s trying to tap into a vein not all that dissimilar from Italian giallo features; I’m not familiar enough with director Moctezuma’s resume to know whether or not that’s the case or if that reflection is just entirely my observation.
Also, I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that – to the film’s credit – Mary Mary certainly touches reasonably well on stomping grounds that all vampire flicks reach for: these contemplative bloodsuckers always known a thing or two about exploiting their sexuality. Think what you may, but vampires are the only monsters typically allowed full-fledged romantic entanglements, and thankfully the script makes great use of the comely Ferrare as our chief stalker. Hers is a lithe athletic body, and she outfitted in most scenes in loose denim with an almost Bohemian tinge. As an artist, she’s attractive to men and women, and – as a monster – she’ll feel wherever and whenever she can take advantage. Several scenes have a good command of the sexual undercurrent; it never quite rises to the level of other Horror pictures I’ve seen, but it’s there, it’s acknowledged, and it’s worked to some benefit.
Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975) Cinema Management Inc., Proa Films, and Translor Films. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated via VCI Entertainment. (NOTE: The film is available as part of their Bloody 70’s Horror Double Feature alongside Blood Feast as a second bill.) As for the technical specifications? Again, I am not a video expert, but I thought this restoration was very good. The film’s opening segment takes place at night, and (quite clearly) the original production didn’t make the best use of available lighting; but those sequences work in spite of their apparent weaknesses.
As for the special features? Well, there’s a pleasant 40-minutes video essay conducted by film historian Dr. David Will. The upsides to it? He gives a wealth of biographical data to both the people and companies involved in this joint U.S./Mexico production and keeps it moving at a good pace. The downsides? It often feels like one’s being ‘lectured,’ so – as the student – you get to decide whether or not you’ve learned all that much about this particular film. Honestly, I didn’t feel there was a wealth of information that pertained to Mary Mary directly, though Wilt is spot on with some of his stylistics observations incorporated by Moctezuma in the finale.
Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975) is more a mash-up of various film genres than it is anything else, including being a flick of substance. It isn’t quite Horror enough to be considered mainstream Horror; and as a rather obvious attempt at Exploitation it falls equally short. While there is a modicum of tension throughout several sequences, it’s really nothing to write home about. And it’s a touch too long at just over 90-minutes to be a quick-and-easy crowd-pleaser. Still, it wasn’t a bad experience; it’s just an incomplete idea that needed a stronger script – one that answered the questions it raised – to give its players a bit more depth to seek.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at VCI Entertainment provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray set of Bloody 70’s Horror Double Feature by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.