Night of the Blood Monster aka The Bloody Judge (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Apr 17, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Night of the Blood Monster aka The Bloody Judge (4K UHD Review)


Jesús Franco

Release Date(s)

1970 (March 26, 2024)


Fénix Films/Terra-Filmkunst/Prodimex Films (Blue Underground)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: A+

Night of the Blood Monster aka The Bloody Judge (4K UHD)



Made as a result of the success of The Witchfinder General and Mark of the Devil, Jesús Franco’s The Bloody Judge—or as it was released in the US, Night of the Blood Monster—was fully meant to capitalize on the sudden burst of period or biographical-type films involving sadism and witch-hunting. The film re-teamed Franco with Christopher Lee, who made several films together over a short period of time, and was released in various territories with and without specific content; some of it salacious, some of it violent, and some of it both.

The story is a (very) loose account of Lord Chief Justice, Judge Jeffreys (Lee), known historically as “The Hanging Judge,” who has a penchant for sentencing innocent people, mostly women, to be tortured and executed under the accusation of witchcraft. Jeffreys, obsessed with political power, sees his position as nearly equal to King James II, though he’s often plagued by nightmares of death and torture, having never actually been present when his sentences are carried out. Many plead for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, including Mary (Maria Rohm), who offers herself to him in exchange for the release of her sister (Margaret Lee) and her love Harry (Hans Hass). Meanwhile, a rebellion is brewing, led by Harry and privately supported by Harry’s father, Lord Wessex (Leo Genn), with Jeffreys’ diabolical ways soon to come to an abrupt end. The cast also includes Maria Schell, Howard Vernon, and Peter Martell.

Franco and company shot the film on location in Portugal and Germany, and since they had a considerable budget to work with thanks to Franco’s then-producing partner Harry Alan Towers, Night of the Blood Monster has a slicker and more mainstreamed look to it with handsome sets and costumes, as well as many extras. Performances are fine across the board, with Lee dominating the proceedings, but the structure and content contained within make for a film that’s a bit inconsistent. It’s well-documented that the film exists in at least five distinct versions of varying lengths with varying titles and content, but because of this, it’s uneven, losing narrative focus at times by paying a little too much attention to supporting characters. In truth, there is no truly definitive version of Night of the Blood Monster, since Franco likely had no control over any of the cuts of the film ever released anywhere.

As far as its title, Night of the Blood Monster is completely nonsensical, which is what it was re-named when it was cut up and released by American International Pictures on a double bill with Hammer Studios’ Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb in 1972, nearly two years after it made its debut in its European homeland. It’s a title that Franco cordially disliked, and for good reason since it has nothing to do with the film’s plot. Why the film couldn’t have kept its original title, or if it had to be changed at all, been called something more akin to “Night of the Bloody Judge,” is perplexing.

On the whole, the film isn’t quite as compelling as some of Franco’s other work made during this era, nor is it totally on par with other witch-hunting films made around the same time, but it’s beautiful to look at and has enough quirkiness to it to make it interesting; and in this version, there’s a decent amount of nudity and violence that genre fans can still appreciate.

Night of the Blood Monster was shot by director of photography Manuel Merino on 35mm 2-perf Techniscope film using Arriflex cameras, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Blue Underground brings the film to Ultra HD from what is described as a “brand-new 2023 Dolby Vision HDR 4K master, painstakingly restored from various European vault elements…”, graded for High Dynamic Range in HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and presented on a BD-66 disc. The source for this master appears to be the same source used for the 88 Films Region B Blu-ray release (based upon the running time, the inclusion of the commentaries that were exclusive to that release, and the onscreen title). Judging by the quality, it looks to have been taken primarily from the original camera negative, with second generation elements occasionally inserted to make the most complete version of the film, replete with extra scenes of nudity, violence, and additional dialogue. Occasionally, these moments are presented in German since English versions were seemingly unavailable. And since the film is known by several titles all over the world, it’s worth noting that the onscreen title of this presentation is Night of the Blood Monster.

Above all else, this is a highly impressive organic presentation with stable and solid levels of grain and vast amounts of fine detail. The second generation elements blend reasonably well, and the dip in quality is only minor with less pronounced grain and a minor scratch or bit of speckling here and there. Otherwise, the presentation is spotless with a high bitrate that ranges from 70 to 90Mbps. Contrast really benefits from the HDR grades, especially the Dolby Vision grade, which deepens blacks significantly in comparison to this release’s 1080p, SDR counterpart. In both cases, the color palette is lush with gorgeous swaths of red, green, and blue. It’s certainly the most beautiful presentation of the film on home video, though one does wish every possible version could have been included in some capacity, even in lower resolutions. Regardless, it’s a knockout.

Audio is included in English mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish. Obviously limited by its single-channel nature, it still manages to offer fine support for dialogue and score, without any stand-out defects or other issues. The switch to German dialogue during the re-inserted moments is obvious only in the change of language, smoothly transitioning from one to the other.

Night of the Blood Monster on 4K UHD sits in a black Amaray case alongside a 1080p Blu-ray and a double-sided insert featuring two pieces of artwork with two different titles: Night of the Blood Monster and The Bloody Judge. Everything sits in a thin, embossed slipcover featuring the Blood Monster artwork. The following extras are included on each disc:


  • Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary with Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw
  • Audio Commentary with David Flint and Adrian Smith


  • Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary with Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw
  • Audio Commentary with David Flint and Adrian Smith
  • Bloody Jess (Upscaled SD – 25:10)
  • Judgement Day: Looking Back at a First Class Franco Frightener (HD – 33:32)
  • In the Shadows: Alan Birkinshaw & Stephen Thrower on Harry Alan Towers (HD – 24:15)
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes:
    • Deleted Scene: Mary’s Grief (HD & Upscaled SD – 5:57)
    • Alternate Clothed Love Scene (HD & Upscaled SD – 1:27)
    • Alternate Jeffreys’ Nightmare (HD & Upscaled SD – :55)
    • Alternate Mary’s Release from Dungeon (HD & Upscaled SD – 1:34)
    • Alternate Bloody Judge Main Titles (HD & Upscaled SD – 2:06)
    • Alternate Dex Hexentoter Von Blackmoor Main Titles (HD & Upscaled SD – 2:26)
    • Alternate Ending from German Version (HD – 1:53)
  • Trailers and TV Spot:
    • US Trailer (Upscaled SD – :56)
    • US Combo Trailer with Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (Upscaled SD – 1:53)
    • US Combo TV Spot with Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (Upscaled SD – :34)
  • Still Galleries:
    • Posters (HD – 12 in all)
    • Advertising Materials (HD – 8 in all)
    • Lobby Cards (HD – 30 in all)
    • B&W Stills (HD – 155 in all)
    • Color Stills (HD – 57 in all)
    • Video & Soundtrack (HD – 13 in all)

This isn’t quite a complete extras package as far as material culled from releases around the world is concerned, but it’s still rock solid for the overall value. New to this release is an audio commentary with critics and film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson whom, as usual, keep their conversation lively but interesting, delving into many facts about the film and its makers. The second and third audio commentaries were recorded in 2023 and first appeared on the aforementioned Region B Blu-ray release from 88 Films. One features authors and film critics Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw, and the other features writers David Flint and Adrian Smith. Obviously, there’s some overlap of information, but in the end, you do get six different viewpoints, which is important.

Bloody Jess contains (obviously) vintage interviews with both Christopher Lee and Jesús Franco. Judgement Day (how it’s spelled in the main titles) and In the Shadows both feature interviews with author Stephen Thrower, while the latter also includes director Alan Birkinshaw (Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas, Ordeal by Innocence), both discussing Franco at length. The Deleted and Alternate Scenes try to make up for the lack of the other versions not included with this release, and likely don’t include absolutely every alternate or deleted moment, but still contain some varying material. The most interesting trim is an extended scene in which Mary meets Harry for the first time, which was included in the body of the film on Blue Underground’s DVD release, and is all the more puzzling as it does feel like it should be in the final film. Again, there is no perfect version of this film, but a scene like this could certainly have helped to improve it. Last is a series of trailers, TV spots, and still galleries.

Missing from Blue Underground’s DVD release is a 4-page set liner notes by Tim Lucas. The now out of print Filmjuwelen Region B German Blu-ray release contained 4 versions of the film, including a Super 8 version, as well as the 2019 Franco-Philes documentary, an introduction to the German version by film historian Christian Kessler, an additional trailer, and a CD soundtrack of Bruno Nicolai’s score. For the completists out there, the Scream Factory Blu-ray of Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb includes an additional TV spot and a pair of radio spots for a double bill of both films.

Made during what many consider to be Jesús Franco’s most prolific period, Night of the Blood Monster promises more chills than it actually delivers, but still manages to be entertaining in individual sequences. Blue Underground’s 4K UHD upgrade is a beautiful release with a nice set of bonus materials to go with it. As with all of Blue Underground's 4K packages, and for Franco fans and genre fans alike, this release comes highly recommended.

- Tim Salmons

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