Captain Blood by Michael BlodgettBy Michael Blodgett (Stone Hill*; 1979)

Here we have one of the few novels that can accurately be summed up by the vastly over-utilized term mind-blowing. Beyond that, however, I’m not entirely sure if CAPTAIN BLOOD is some kind of dark masterpiece or just a twisted mess of epic proportions. Strong arguments can be made for both views.

The first novel by actor-turned-writer Michael Blodgett, CAPTAIN BLOOD (initially titled THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN BLOOD) was completed in 1977 but not published until two years later, having reportedly inspired a lot of controversy in the interim. To shock publishers in the 1970s, when pornographic novels were prevalent and minutely described sex and violence were constants in mainstream fiction, was no small feat!

Highly picturesque and episodic, CAPTAIN BLOOD is a bit of a mess, with Blodgett demonstrating great descriptive power yet very little storytelling prowess. The main narrative point, involving the title character’s revenge-fueled quest to take down a heroin ring, doesn’t even kick in until after the halfway point, with the preceding 200-plus pages devoted to the minutiae of that character’s debauched lifestyle.

Captain Blood (so named because his father was an Errol Flynn buff) is a good looking, upstanding young man with a mania for justice and, equally importantly, a really big dick. How virtuous a guy is he? Well, he murders a psychotic lesbian who’s been threatening his sister, chops up the corpse and even disposes of the body parts in a restaurant trash compactor. He also really loves his sister, entering into a sexual relationship with her after obligingly putting his cock in her mouth as she masturbates. Further depravities are provided by flashbacks that see Captain getting jerked off by his father and witnessing the gruesome slaughter of several black men by a gaggle of Southern rednecks.

If one thing seems to define this character it’s contradiction, a factor that initially seems like bad writing–and indeed may well be. Captain Blood claims to abhor all forms of racism, for instance, yet has no problem canoodling with the above-mentioned rednecks in a bizarre Southern-fried orgy. Likewise, Captain rages against and brutally kills the distributors of the heroin that forces a close friend’s daughter into prostitution, yet is himself an enthusiastic drug user who happens to be on that very heroine when he commits many of those killings–and nor is he averse to sampling the prostitute’s wares before rescuing her.

As for the climactic action showdown, it’s a bit of a disappointment. As is his custom throughout the book, Blodgett lavishes more attention on the surrounding details–most notably an brief affair Captain has with an anal sex loving horse trainer–than on the narrative.

Yet the novel, curiously enough, is a page turner. It compels attention with enough minutely described gore, perversion and general ugliness to completely satisfy the sick fuck in all of us. The prose is disarmingly rational throughout, making all the outrageousness seem thoroughly convincing, and even (to borrow a blurb from the back cover) like reasonable conduct. The book’s real fascination, of course, is in the way it refuses to pin itself down to any single category yet somehow congeals into a satisfying whole, from the unassuming opening, with Captain Blood helping an old lady with a busted iron, to the bloody final showdown that closes things out on a very dark note indeed.

*For some unfortunate reason the most common edition of this novel, the 1982 Harmony Books trade paperback, was heavily revised and edited, with nearly sixty pages worth of material (including several of the episodes described above) excised. Those wanting the full effect of this crazed gem are urged to track down the 1979 Stone Hill hardcover.