Blood Freak
U.S.A.  / 1972
Directors: Steve Hawkes, Brad Grinter
Starring
Steve Hawkes
Dana Culliver
Heather Hughes
Color / 80 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Something Weird Video
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
6
    10   10 = Highest Rating  
Fashioned with a 'one take only' philosophy that makes Ed Wood look like Stanley Kubrick, Blood Freak is, in a word, in-freakin'-credible. I've seen my share of really bad movies but this one's a stunner. It's undeniably unique: an anti-drug gore film with a pro-Christian message, featuring a homicidal monster with the body of a man and the head of a turkey. He murders dope addicts to drink their blood, the only way he can satisfy his own chemical-induced addiction. Frankly, the flick left me completely stupefied when I wasn't cackling with uncontrolled mirth. Before experiencing this one-of-a kind horror I'd have normally refused to accept its very existence. After all... why in God's name would anyone make such a thing? What would possess them to? But seeing is believing.
    A beefy nomadic biker dude with an Elvis 'do named Herschell (co-director Steve Hawkes) plays the Good Samaritan when he helps a pretty woman named Angel (Heather Hughes) with car trouble. He escorts her back to the house she shares with her foxy sister Ann (Dana Cullivan), where a pot party is in full swing. Though Angel is a scripture-quoting Christian, Ann is a party animal druggie with a brain the size of a walnut. She offers Herschell a little ganja but he seems more interested in Angel's views on God. Rebuffing Ann's advances, he accepts Angel's offer to let him crash at their house while he looks for a job. A friend of Angel's who runs a turkey farm offers Herschell a job starting the following week.
    Which gives Ann more than enough time to work her wiles. She may be dumb as a box of rocks but she's a looker. Herschell doesn't really stand a chance. Soon Ann has him tokin' the Devil Weed and tumbling into bed with her. Trouble is, the pot she gave him is a particularly potent variety that has him hooked in no time. (Oh, say about 10 minutes.) Later, when Herschell reports for his first day at work, he finds out his new job is as a human guinea pig testing chemically altered turkey meat. The turkey farm scientists assure him it's perfectly safe to consume and offer to fix him up with some primo drugs to boot. Herschell tucks into his new job with gusto, eating most of a cooked bird without so much as a side dollop of mashed potatoes or even anything to drink. Afterwards he starts to feel sick, passing out in a field. When he wakes up, Herschell is a new man — one with a gigantic turkey head made out of papier-mβchι and a thirst for blood. He kidnaps a couple of female heroin junkies, hangs them upside down from a ladder, then slices open their throats to (rather sloppily) drink the arterial spray... which, in the case of the 1st victim, actually jets out of her shirt rather than her neck. He also strangles an old man who witnesses one of the murders. Then he kills a relative of the old man, a fat, beer-bellied redneck, who attacks him in revenge. A regretful Ann, horrified by her boyfriend's condition, enlists a couple of hippy stoners to try to help poor Herschell by supplying him with drugs. He ends up undermining their efforts by cutting off the leg of a drug dealer with a buzz saw. All throughout these nonsensical proceedings a chain-smoking on-camera narrator (co-director Brad Grinter, reading from a script on his desk) occasionally chimes in, failing miserably at tying it all together. And would you believe it? — the thing actually has a happy ending!
    Made for about ten dollars tops, Blood Freak is an incredibly stupid, completely inept piece of... er, filmmaking which by no sane law of the universe should even exist. But it does, and hardcore cheese lovers will want to seek it out for precisely that reason. It's just staggering how bad this movie is! It amusingly stumbles right out of the gate, repeating both the title and "Starring Steve Hawkes" twice within the span of a few minutes. The plot makes no sense, continuity is thrown to winds, and it looks to have been edited by Helen Keller. There's no point in critiquing the acting because there just isn't any to speak of. The attempt at a Christian message is apparently sincere, yet it throws in messy gore effects and even a brief shot of Ann's bare backside. The murder scenes are hysterical, especially the dismemberment of the drug dealer (apparently played by a guy with only one leg in real life)... Clutching the bleeding plastic stump, he screams at the top of his lungs for a full minute before expiring. The film's one attempt at an action sequence, the attack by the vengeful redneck, will leave you slack-jawed in utter astonishment. (For a fat guy he vaults that fence quite nimbly.) If you think you've seen the absolute dregs of American Z-grade schlock cinema (The Creeping Terror, Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Mighty Gorga, etc.) but haven't yet experienced Blood Freak, I'm confident that the world's only "Turkey-Monster-Anti-Drug-Pro-Jesus Gore film" should provide you with an entirely new perspective. Fans of 'So Bad They're Good' flicks will definitely want to gobble this 'un up — though it certainly helps if you're blitzed when you watch it.

Something Weird Video continues its tradition of bringing super-obscure cult flicks to DVD, supplemented with a host of gonzo extras. As for the main feature, Blood Freak was a dirt cheap production to begin with — not exactly Film Preservation Society material — so naturally it's not going to look or sound as good as a mainstream Hollywood film or even the product of 'lesser' studios like Hammer or AIP. It's actually rather amazing that the movie has survived more or less intact over the past 30 years. A/V quality is mediocre at best. There's quite a bit of print damage; it's grainy and dark to boot. (One scene, in fact, is so dark that for a few minutes virtually nothing can be seen at all. I'd bet it looked that way when the flick was new, however.) Sound is somewhat muffled, something to be expected with a film this poorly made to begin with.
    As is their practice, the folks at SWV really pile on the extras in compensation. Nine schlock movie trailers are provided, all but one with 'Blood' themes: Blood Feast, Color Me Blood Red, The Blood Spattered Bride, Bloody Pit of Horror, The Dorm That Dripped Blood, I Drink Your Blood/I Eat Your Skin, and Night of the Bloody Apes, in addition to the promo for
Blood Freak. Flesh Feast is thrown in for good measure, since it was directed by Blood Freak's co-helmer (and butt-puffing narrator) Brad Grinter. Now I positively love trailers; Something Weird rarely disappoints in this regard. But they've also included no less than six short subjects, all related in some way to Blood Freak's peculiar vibe.
    First up is The Walls Have Eyes, a 28-minute segment from that 1969 film. In it, a perverted motel manager gets his jollies spying on a druggie couple doing the nasty;
Blood Freak star Steve Hawkes is the low-rent lothario. Despite the sordid subject matter it's boring as hell and easily skipped. Next is Brad Grinter, Nudist (excerpted from a 1970 sexploitation flick), featuring Grinter as a swinging TV anchorman who introduces a coworker (Scum of the Earth's William Kerwin) and his spouse to the joys of the nudist camp lifestyle. Trust me... you'll see way, WAY more of Grinter and friends than you'd ever really care to. (Yikes!) Beggar at the Gates is a truncated documentary (originally aired on PBS) that takes a serious look at various forms of organized religion in America, from fundamentalist Protestants to New Age pagans. It's pretty dry but does have minor freak appeal — some of the folks we're shown are kind of odd. (Alas, no snake handlers.) The turkey theme is further explored with A Day of Thanksgiving, a trip through Eisenhower-era family values via an old black and white Centron educational short, and Turkeys in the Wild, a 1962 nature documentary that's actually as interesting as it is corny. By far the most entertaining of the shorts is Narcotics: Pit of Despair, an anti-drug screed from 1967. Here we follow the downward spiral of a high school kid (Emergency's Kevin Tighe) who falls in with the wrong crowd, to his eternal regret. He winds up hooked on drugs by a former classmate turned pusher, a guy who looks like Tom Hanks in an Abraham Lincoln beard! Horrendous fashions and goofy dancing aside, the deadpan Dragnet-style narration provides a number of real kneeslappers. ("Forget it, man, and get with the countdown. Shake this square world and blast off for Kicksville.")
    On top of all these trimmings, the
disc also comes with a still gallery of horror comic book cover art (set to the rockin' strains of The Dead Elvi), liner notes by Travis Crawford, and a cute, easily located Easter Egg on the Main Menu screen. Gobble gobble, ya'll! 12/27/02
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