Malatesta's Carnival of Blood (1972)


The movie Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1972) is a horror film directed by Christopher Speeth and written by Werner Liepolt. The film stars Janine Carazo, Jerome Dempsey, Daniel Dietrich, Lenny Baker, and Hervé Villechaize. The film was shot in 1971 at the Willow Grove Amusement Park in Pennsylvania, but was not released until 1973. The film is considered a cult classic and has been praised for its surreal and nightmarish atmosphere [1].

The plot of the movie Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1972) follows the Norris family, who take jobs at a rundown carnival as a cover for searching for their missing son, who disappeared after visiting the carnival. The carnival is owned by the mysterious Malatesta, who rules over a tribe of cave-dwelling cannibals that feed on the unsuspecting visitors. The carnival also has a sinister manager, Mr. Blood, who turns out to be a vampire. The Norris family soon realizes that they are in grave danger and must escape from the carnival of horrors.

The film begins with a young couple, Kit and Andy, who go on a date at the carnival. They ride the Tunnel of Love, where they encounter a severed head and a man with a bloody axe. They try to flee, but are attacked and killed by the cannibals. The next day, the Norris family arrives at the carnival, looking for their son, who was last seen with Kit and Andy. They meet Malatesta, who hires them to work at the carnival. The father, Mr. Norris, works as a ticket seller, the mother, Mrs. Norris, works as a fortune teller, and the daughter, Vena, works as a popcorn seller.

Vena befriends a young man named Bob, who works as a carny. Bob tells her that he is also looking for his missing sister, who worked at the carnival. He suspects that something is wrong with the carnival and warns Vena to be careful. Meanwhile, Mr. Norris discovers a secret passage behind his booth that leads to the underground tunnels where the cannibals live. He is chased by a masked man with a chainsaw, but manages to escape. He tells his wife about his discovery, but she does not believe him. She thinks he is hallucinating and suggests that they leave the carnival.

That night, Vena and Bob sneak into the Tunnel of Love, where they find the corpses of Kit and Andy. They are attacked by the cannibals, but manage to fight them off and run away. They encounter Mr. Blood, who reveals himself to be a vampire and bites Bob in the neck. Vena stabs Mr. Blood with a wooden stake, killing him. She then runs into Malatesta, who tells her that he is the master of the carnival and that he feeds his people with the blood of the visitors. He says that he has been waiting for her and that she is his bride. He tries to kiss her, but she bites his tongue and spits it out. She then runs into her parents, who are also trying to escape. They are surrounded by the cannibals, who chase them to the roller coaster.

The Norris family boards the roller coaster, hoping to get away from the cannibals. However, the roller coaster is rigged with traps and spikes that kill them one by one. Vena is the last survivor, but she is confronted by Malatesta, who has survived his injury. He tells her that she cannot escape and that she belongs to him. He grabs her and pulls her into his arms. The film ends with a close-up of Vena’s screaming face.


  • Janine Carazo as Vena Norris
  • Jerome Dempsey as Mr. Blood
  • Daniel Dietrich as Malatesta
  • Lenny Baker as Bob
  • Hervé Villechaize as Bobo
  • William Preston as Mr. Norris
  • Paul Hostetler as Andy
  • Betsy Henn as Kit
  • Chris Thomas as Sonny Norris


  • The film was shot in 1971 at the Willow Grove Amusement Park in Pennsylvania, which was scheduled to be demolished. The filmmakers used the park’s dilapidated state to create a creepy atmosphere [2].
  • The film was not released until 1973, when it was distributed by Cannon Films. The film was poorly marketed and received little attention from the public and critics. The film was considered lost for decades, until it was rediscovered and restored in 2016 [2].
  • The film features an early appearance by Hervé Villechaize, who would later become famous for his role as Tattoo in the TV series Fantasy Island. Villechaize plays Bobo, a dwarf who works as a clown at the carnival and helps the cannibals [2].
  • The film has been praised for its originality and creativity, as well as its low-budget charm [1] .


  • “No matter how interestingly unique the film is, it’s clearly only going to appeal to a specific audience.” – Random Movie Musings [1]
  • ” By the final act of Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood, it’s hard not to fall under the film’s boozy spell. One thing at which Speeth brilliantly succeeds is capturing the dizzying feel of making circles in a funhouse with no exit in sight.” – Midnight Only [2]
  • “Somehow, Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood has reactivated that part of my brain which used to love stuff like this. As objectively terrible as Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is — and it is absolutely, bone-achingly terrible — you have to admire its sheer exuberant chaos. ” – Blasphemous Tomes [3]


  • [1] Random Movie Musings
  • [2] Midnight Only
  • [3] Blasphemous Tomes
  • Last updated byCody Meirick on November 4, 2023