Night of the Blood Monster 4K UHD/Blu-ray Review (Blue Underground)

Jess Franco in his inquisition phase

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1970’s Night of the Blood Monster boasts an absolutely terrible title for what it actually delivers. The alternate The Bloody Judge is a much better indication of what audiences will get from this Jess Franco-directed movie: a period piece set during the reign of King James II about his loyal Judge Jeffries and the various witch-hunting inquisitions he held that left the citizens in terror and, eventually, resulted in the Glorious Revolution. Like other inquisition-focused films of the time period (Witchfinder General, Mark of the DevilInquisition), there’s a combination of pseudo-sexual BDSM and “true” history here, with Franco playing it surprisingly tame for the most part despite his penchant for a few leery sexploitation elements. And in Night of the Blood Monster, Christopher Lee gets his shot at witchfinder playing the contemptible Jeffries with multiple powder wigs and piano-playing panache.

Truthfully, though, Franco’s direction may be Night of the Blood Monster‘s most egregious flaw, in that it often trades the inquisition sub-genre’s more debauched torture devices for a lot of historical political drama. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it often feels like the movie isn’t quite sure in which direction it wants to go; hewing fairly close to the history and the more stately performance by Lee sets it at odds with Franco’s later sexual deviations, as though Night of the Blood Monster wants to be more explicit than it truly exhibits. An extended blood-licking sequence towards the end of the film recalls the best (worst) of Franco’s lingering eye, but here it feels rather off-putting considering how straight the rest of the movie plays aside from a couple of torture rack set pieces.

This makes Blood Monster occasionally dull and plodding despite its good production values, settings, and period costumery. It certainly pales in comparison to some of the better, more unhinged inquisition movies mentioned above in terms of its rewatchability, while at the same time delivering a more truthful depiction of the subject matter. To be frank, most viewers probably prefer the depravity of naked ladies being tortured rather than the political intrigue Franco delivers here, and despite the fact that Night of the Blood Monster has had a variety of censored cuts, it’s a relatively tame film in comparison. At least Lee devours his scenes – that’s something to watch for.


Blue Underground presents Night of the Blood Monster on UHD and states that this is in its most complete form thanks to using various European vault elements in the master; this is meant to restore the nudity and other torture sequences that have been notably censored in past releases. The new 4K remaster looks excellent here with a strong visual clarity that is surprisingly fairly light on grain scale for the most part; even particularly problematic areas like light skies manage the grain well, with a deep blue thanks to the Dolby Vision HDR presentation. Skin tones are fairly contoured and clothing textures are visibly apparent; background set pieces are also well-observed. Whitish textures tend to display the most amount of flickering grain, often seen on sleeves, white wigs, and occasional lighting. Due to the use of various elements, there can be occasional quality decrements, but Blue Underground has done a remarkable job maintaining consistency – notably color grading – throughout. The Dolby Vision HDR adds a great level of contrast to greenery and red and blue hues; there aren’t a ton of darker sequences since Franco shot day-for-night here, but dimmer dungeon scenes maintain depth and clarity. Overall, Night of the Blood Monster looks exceptional on 4K.

Audio is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono English track. The film was dubbed in English and some scenes feature German with included English subtitles. The overall score and dialogue sound very good, with acceptable audio levels and no noticeable drops or hisses. There’s some occasional trebly-ness but altogether a good representation of the film’s soundtrack.

For extras, Blue Underground collects a number of previously released items that have shown up on other Blu-rays (such as 88 Films’ recent release) and home video releases, as well as adding two new items – an audio commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, who provide yet a third way to watch the film, as well as an interview with Francophile Stephen Thrower. The Howarth/Thompson commentary is very enlightening, especially considering the background they touch on with Harry Alan Towers’ script, the historical significance of the movie, and a lot of other tidbits about the production. This is in addition to the already expansive commentaries from Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw and David Flint and Adrian Smith, respectively, that are included.

Stephen Thrower’s interview goes into some similar items, especially Franco’s well-budgeted production, the film’s release, and its reception at the time. In addition to Thrower’s 30-minute interview, this release collects an older interview with Alan Birkinshaw and Thrower encompassing the work of Harry Alan Towers, as well as an older interview with Franco and Christopher Lee.

Finally, a number of vintage featurettes including twelve minutes of deleted scenes, various trailers, still galleries, and alternate opening and ending sequences are also included. The packaging comes with slipcover and reversible cover artwork featuring The Bloody Judge as alternate title.

Extra Features

Disc 1 (4K UHD Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:

  • NEW 2023 Dolby Vision HDR 4K master restored from European vault elements
  • NEW Audio Commentary #1 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Film Historians Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw
  • Audio Commentary #3 with Film Historians David Flint and Adrian Smith

Disc 2 (Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:

  • NEW 2023 4K master restored from European vault elements
  • NEW Audio Commentary #1 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Film Historians Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw
  • Audio Commentary #3 with Film Historians David Flint and Adrian Smith
  • Bloody Jess – Interviews with Director Jess Franco and Star Christopher Lee (1080p; 25:10)
  • NEW Judgement Day – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of “Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco” (1080p; 33:32)
  • In The Shadows – Interviews with Filmmaker Alan Birkinshaw and Author Stephen Thrower on Harry Alan Towers (1080p; 
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes
    • Mary’s Grief (1080p; 5:57)
    • Alternate clothed love scene (1080p; 1:27)
    • Alternate Jeffrey’s nightmare (1080p; 0:55)
    • Alternate Mary’s release from dungeon (1080p; 1:34)
    • Alternate “Bloody Judge” main titles (1080p; 2:06)
    • Alternate “Der Hexentoter Von Blackmoor” main titles (1080p; 2:26)
    • Alternate ending from German version (1080p; 1:53)
  • US trailer (1080p; 0:56)
  • US combo trailer (1080p; 1:53)
  • US combo TV spot (1080p; 0:34)
  • Still Galleries
    • Posters (chapter breaks; 0:14)
    • Advertising materials (chapter breaks; 0:10)
    • Lobby cards (chapter breaks; 0:32)
    • B&W stills (chapter breaks; 2:37)
    • Color stills (chapter breaks; 0:59)
    • Video & soundtrack (chapter breaks; 0:15)


Blue Underground’s 4K UHD release of Night of the Blood Monster is the most complete version thus far and, along with its excellent uncensored 4K transfer, it also collects both new and old extras from previous editions. For fans of Franco films, Christopher Lee, or the inquisition sub-genre, this release is worth picking up.

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