Horror Movie Review: The Ghastly Ones (1968)

As with so many of the infamous video nasty list, The Ghastly Ones aka Blood Rites is a movie that you just can’t see why it ever ran afoul of the censors. Not only that, it was one of the ones that was successfully prosecuted and has had no UK re-release to date. Why? It’s not content and searching on the BBFC website brings up no results. So, it seems more likely that it’s never been picked up for re-distribution in the UK.

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Directed by Andy Milligan on an extremely low-budget ($13,000), The Ghastly Ones is an odd film that begins in violent fashion. A cavorting couple are murdered by an initially unknown man who violently hacks at the woman’s limbs. It’s an attention-grabbing start, gory and gratuitous, and it sets up the expectation that there’s going to be a lot of blood spilled in the movie.

Spoiler… there isn’t. In fact, this beginning has very little links to the story that follows.

Veronica (Eileen Hayes), Victoria (Anne Linden) and Elizabeth (Carol Vogel) are sisters who receive a letter from their late father’s lawyer requesting their attendance in New York. After much discussion with their husbands, they meet the lawyer who reveals their father’s last wish for them. He wants them to spend 3 nights in his house on an isolated island (the one from the opening murders) and oddly… have martial relations while in the house.

It’s an odd request but for these couples, something they seem very comfortable with as each can barely keep their hands off each other.

Once at the house on the island, the couples meet the two maids, alongside Colin, who is suffering from a mental illness. He was the murderer at the beginning of the film. His violent tendencies flair up without a moment’s notice making him the obvious culprit for the dark events that follow. The three nights these couples will be spending here are going to be their last… unless they can reveal their tormentor’s true identity.

It’s not Colin of course. The film tries to hard to point the finger at him but does a decent job of throwing in a few more suspects too. Alas, the final reveal is one of those nonsensical reveals that no-one could have worked out. To make matters worse, the killer than proceeds to explain every little detail. Which, for a film that has been heavy on the dialogue and light on action, is just a step too far.

Yes, The Ghastly One’s biggest problem is just how boring it is. The story is tiresome, the characters basic and the actors portraying them hit & miss. Every scene involving these couples goes on for ages with very little said. The scenes can be quite excruciating to watch, especially with the poor camera work that is up close far too much.

Those hoping for a ton of blood and guts, especially after that beginning, will be disappointed. That being said, when it does happen, it can be quite liberal. It’s just a shame the later effects are so bad, it’s distracting.

What does work in The Ghastly Ones favour is that it’s only 72 minutes long. It’s a rough 72 minutes to get through but doable.




The Ghastly Ones (1968)
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