I originally caught a screening of this film on TV back in the early 70's. What i originally saw (with my dad watching as well) was a highly edited version. My father even claimed it was a 'good' film, though his taste ran from war dramas to westerns, he mentioned the music was rather 'lush' for the type of film it was, and the acting was very good.
I on the other hand can add more praises.
Over the years I have searched for this film, to no avail, but didn't know it bore another title. On TV, it was called 'Night Of The Blood Monster', which was rather a poor choice in my opinion. As i researched years later, distributor American International Pictures opted for such a title to sensationalize, or exploit it's subject matter. So, recently I found 'The Bloody Judge' ('Night Of The Blood Monster') as what i have been searching for all these years.
I watched the extras first, to give me more insight on the film before actually watching it. Though they do contain 'spoilers' to those who have not seen the film yet, they do explain that the film was really not considered a 'horror' film when made, but as based on fact and more of a historical drama about George Jeffreys with some violence thrown in. I do agree with that.
Also, was financed by no less than 3 countries. I can just see the Director's face at times when so many producers were putting their 2 cents in on how certain scenes were to be filmed. That, is also explained in the extras.
Of course there are omissions that the script could have utilized, like the fact that Jeffreys had a son, John, who wasn't even mentioned in the film. But running time of almost 2 hours would have made that inclusion impossible as Christopher Lee's character was the main focus.
Christopher Lee, a man who has made more appearances on film than probably any other actor, gives more than fine performance. Some may call it 'over the top', but his attitude throughout the film played true to the character he was playing, as Jeffreys was sort of an alcoholic, as he was having kidney failure and the doctors suggested alcohol to subdue the pain. A rather bad choice, but it was 1689.
The print here is magnificent. In order to give the viewer the full experience, the best print possible was utilized, including scenes that were scissored out, as in some parts of the world, and this is 1972, could not show specific scenes that were shot (lesbianism, butchery, etc.). So what we have here is the best possible version utilizing all materials that survived all these years.
The sound quality and picture may be a little quirky at times (towards the end) as the scenes that were cut out that are now restored were from other parts of the world (Spain, Germany) and are subtitled. But these inclusions do not distract from the flow of the film.
If you are looking for another 'Mark Of The Devil', or 'The Conqueror Worm', you may be disappointed if you are looking for alot of violence.
But, if you are looking for a good historical film, with good acting, with some violence and a little nudity, and a handsome print to boot, this is a must see. And the price is rather affordable, and quite worth it for what you get.