Code Red: Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975) - Reviewed

In between the transgressive and maddening Mexican cult horror items The Mansion of Madness and Alucarda, Juan Lopez Moctezuma generated this unusual but solid twist on the female vampire subgenre that had been taking shape in the mid-1970s, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary.  Though it doesn’t quite reach the insane shrieking heights of those two films, it does manage to offer a fresh spin on the vampire mythos, downplaying the supernatural elements with some surprises even I wasn’t expecting. 

Starring Cristina Ferrare in her only leading role in a film to date before a long career in television, the film zeroes in on a bisexual female vampire who maintains her eternal beauty by stabbing the necks of her victims before sucking their blood dry.  Contrary to the usual femme fatale lady vampire films however, the plot thickens when her car breaks down in a Mexican village and the hunter finds herself becoming the hunted when a mysterious masked man begins offing people near her right and left before turning his sights on her.
Hastily rescued from oblivion by Code Red, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary bears the distinction of being a largely English language film set within Mexico with many of the cultural festivities and scenic locations on full display including action scenes staged within a parade.  Some sequences play out unsubtitled in Spanish on the Code Red disc but overall this English language story written by Dark Shadows and Night Gallery screenwriter Malcolm Mamorstein is relatively easy to follow.  In addition to Ferrare, the film boasts the ensemble casting talents of David Young and John Carradine.  Performances are fine but this is mostly a film which rests on Ferrare who makes the character appear vulnerable but in actuality is very dangerous.

For awhile this film had the most cultural exposure, being an American and Mexican co-production with a distinctive auteur behind the camera.  With the release of his nunsploitation epic Alucarda, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary faded from the public eye before lingering in public domain purgatory on less than stellar DVD disc releases.  This new edition released on blu-ray by Code Red isn’t perfect with many scratches and blemishes throughout as well as a darkened print, but it gets the job done.  As a Moctezuma film it doesn’t plunge the Satanic depths of Alucarda but on its own terms is a decent vampire thriller which turns many of the tables on familiar genre tropes. 

--Andrew Kotwicki