Christopher Speeth, USA, 1973, Arrow Films, Horror

“Historically speaking, the carnival is where exploitation cinema learned most of its tricks.” -- Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA

On the surface, MALATESTA’S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD gives off the appearance of a throwaway bargain-bin curio -- but once you dig even an inch below the surface, an entire ecosystem of crazy influences, found-garbage props in the style of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” and avant-garde techniques come into view. Plus, it’s entirely set in a rotting wooden 19th-century amusement park (which was bulldozed not long after the film was completed.) Oh, and did we mention it co-stars “Fantasy Island” little person Herve Villechaize?

It’s tough to synopsize in one sentence, but here goes: an evil carnival impresario lures young people to work at his fun fair, so that he can feed them to the ravenous cannibals who live in a cave beneath the carnival and who watch arty silent horror film classics projected on the wall while they feast . . . ?

Why was this film made? Who cares?! When a film’s end credits list a sound designer as providing “psychoacoustics,” you know it’s going to be a good time for cratediggers and other fans of the weird and rare.

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  • 74 mins
  • Color
  • 1.85:1


  • DCP