Color, 1969, 82m.
Directed by Neil Douglas
Starring Stephen Jacques, Nanci Sheldon, John Talt, Cristy Beal, Parker Herriott, Julie Conners
Code Red (US R0 NTSC) / (1.78:1) (16:9)

Sinner's BloodA one-shot offering from almost everyone involved, Sinner's Blood does for rough and tumble bikers what Manos, the Hands of Fate did for road trips. Things start off kinda-sorta normally as perky young things Penny and Patricia (Sheldon and Beal) hop off a train in a small town to stay with their twitchy aunt and perSinner's Bloodv uncle, whose brood includes infantile lesbian Edwina (Count Yorga, Vampire's Conners) and clothing-averse peeping tom Aubrey (Talt). While everyone settles in and takes turns spying on each other, some bikers pull into town after scuffling around out in the desert and have fun doing a little pre-Fulci chain whipping on the local priest's face. Soon the bikers, visitors, and locals are tangling in a violent, sexual melee involving switchblades, sapphic love, bloodshed, and a bizarre twist(?) ending you'll never be able to untangle.

Though you couldn't really argue that this is a "good" movie in any kind of conventional sense, Sinner's Blood is so out there and so unpredictable you can only sit there waiting for each crazy twist and turn to smack you across the face. There's a particularly startling one (for 1969 at least) that precedes The Pink Angels by three years, and the vicious assault that opens and (sort of) closes the film is nasty stuff indeed, serving the same basic structural (and exploitation) function that Russ Meyer pulled off a year later in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. (No, this film isn't even remotely as worthy as that cult icon, but the similarity is interesting.) The guitar-heavy music score (which is usually mixed louder than the dialogue) adds an extra layer of hallucinatory strangeness, sort of like those AIP biker soundtracks interpreted by an avant garde rock band, and there's even a trippy sequence Sinner's Bloodwith one of the main bikers, Gentry, tripping out on LSD and practically licking the camera lens. You'll certainly never see anything else quite like this one.

Released theatrically by short-lived outfit Hollywood Star Pictures (the same folks behind the MST3K favorite Red Zone Cuba), Sinner's Blood underwent a fate similar to many of its peers four years later when hardcore inserts (mostly taken from the Rene Bond film Kim Comes Home) were added and other bits were trimmed to create an even more bizarre patchwork called Hard Riders (which you can find on a Something Weird double bill with Travelin'). A pretty dire VHS of the original cut popped up from Genesis and, as with most titles from that bargain label, made for pretty unpleasant viewing.

Code ReSinner's Bloodd's 2012 DVD (sold directly through their site) follows a fairly similar format to their earlier release of The People Who Own the Dark, featuring an HD transfer directly from a print as well as a "portable grindhouse" version that ports over the old master from the VHS edition (a 3/4" tape, according to the sleeve). The first option in this case (which opens with a quick dedication to the late Sage Stallone) is by far the better one, as the quality is actually quite good apart from the usual fleck, specks, and scratches you'd expect. Considering this was an orphaned film for so long, it's presented in better condition than you'd expect. The audio still sounds pretty lousy, but that's due to the inept original sound mix (which, as mentioned before, often cranks the music up over the dialogue). The alternate full frame VHS-era version (which is understandably interlaced and still looks terrible) actually clocks in over a minute shorter and represents a slightly different cut, with some dialogue both added and subtracted. It may be worth watching once for novelty value, but don't expect much more than that. The usual batch of bonus trailers includes Mardi Gras Massacre, The People Who Own the Dark, and My Old Man's Place, while the main video extra here is "Play with Aubrey," a 10-minute video chat with the actor (who made little else besides this and some student films) in which he talks about finally seeing the film for the first time (he wasn't too impressed), dating one of the actresses for a year after filming, his confusion over the storyline, and his own interpretation of his oddball character.

Reviewed on October 26, 2012.