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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: Blood Freak (1972)

Thanksgiving.  A time of remembrance.  A time for family.  A time for friends.  A time for hearty meals.  A time to stay the hell away from the tainted turkey or you might end up like our subject in question.

If you have an insatiable appetite for the bad like I do, then you are in luck, because today I'll be serving up the half-baked goodness of Brad F. Grinter's Blood Freak; an anti-drug, pro-Christian splatter platter that has to be seen to be believed.  Produced on a shoestring budget, this cuckoo crusty has to be one of the most eccentric offerings to ever play the exploitation circuit.

"Some of my sister's friends are pretty far out."
This story is about a girl with a problem, we're told by a seated chain smoking narrator in the opening of the film.  Then he rambles on authoritatively about "catalysts" and a "person who brings about change".  We then cut to Herschell (script writer Steve Hawkes), a muscle bound vet who walks the straight and narrow with happening sideburns and a 50's greaser-style quiff that would make Elvis jealous.  He helps Bible-thumper Angel with a flat and then she takes him over to her sister's house.

"One little toke isn't going to hurt him."
Sister Anne plays yang to Angel's yin, as fate would have it; at the time entertaining a party full of stoned hippies and some nitrous-taking guests who look like they really belong in a bingo hall.  When a slutty blonde hits on him, Herschell refuses her advances, to which she spits back in contempt, "You're nothing but a dumb bastard who doesn't know where it's at anyway!"

One of Angel's church brethren offers him a job on a farm and sin-loving Anne decides to conspire with the requisite local sleazy dealer to get him hooked before 'saved'.  Aided by some prodding ("how can such a big hunk of a man be such a coward?"), a skinny bikini and a fat joint, she eventually coerces him into bed and her lascivious lifestyle.  His employer, meanwhile, decides to use unsuspecting Herschell as a guinea pig for his modified turkey experiment.  Soon the poor guy is seen puffing out Reefer Madness style and experiencing painful withdrawals from whatever crazy shit was in those birds that he ate.  Catalysts indeed.

"I'm not a coward."

Soon Herschell's drug cocktail and its effects cause him to become violent and things spiral out of control until he becomes a gobbling, bell bottom wearing, turkey-headed monster that kills addicts and feeds on their "junkie blood".  Hey, it could happen.  Anne is shocked ("gosh, you sure are ugly"), but he still must be a damn good cluck in the bedroom because she desperately attempts to stick to the roost and find a cure for her man's, uh, condition.

Some very strong Christian propaganda is worked into the narrative, which really takes the already bizarre enough proceedings completely over the top.  In fact, the air is so thick with heavenly pretension that one has to wonder if Blood Freak was intended to be shown at revivals.  This seems unlikely, however, considering all the fowl (sic) drugging and bloodletting that awkwardly transpires.

Our earnest narrator (director Grinter) also breaks dramatics sporadically to smoke more and drop cautionary speeches like, "the paths of life are predictable and we repeat them again and again. Ride on!" and "be careful what you pray for."  Just wait for his coughing fit though, that's the best.

Blood Freak is poorly composed and the acting is atrocious, but for fans of H.G. Lewis and the like it's full of win.  By the end we've borne witness to gratuitous pot use, junkies fixing, slit throats, screaming sound loops, bad edits, one feast of a dream sequence, one real decapitated turkey and one fake leg removal via table saw.  I think Anne sums it up best when she tells her friends, "It's so weird. It's like out of Star Trek, or the Twilight Zone!"  Blood Freak is definitely out there; you'll be wondering if it's you or the cast who's more in orbit by its resolution.

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