Blood Freak (1972)

PLOT:

“Blood Freak” is a very satisfying movie in that no matter how shitty my life may be, at least no one can ever accuse me of being involved in its production. Sadly, co-directors/co-stars Brad F. Grinter and Steve Hawkes cannot make that claim. The plot follows Hawkes as Herschel, a Vietnam vet and James Dean greaser-type (if James Dean looked like Elvis with Down’s syndrome). He picks up a girl named Angel by the side of the road and accompanies her to a “drug party” (in modern terms: a party), though it turns out that drugs aren’t Angel’s bag as much as reading the bible to addicts. Angel also introduces H-dog to an older man (Her father? Uncle? Just some dude? It’s unclear) who promptly hires him to work on a small turkey farm.

Once Herschel arrives at the farm, Angel disappears for the rest of the movie and is replaced by her free-spirited sister Anne, who is understandably smitten with the Herschenator and attempts to seduce him. She plies him with dope, which he resists at first but caves when she calls him a coward (I’m betting a ‘Nam flashback was involved). They get high, screw, and Herschel begins his downward spiral.

I have to pause here and mention the best part of the entire movie: co-director Brad Grinter’s sporadic on-camera soliloquies. He pops up from time to time and monologues about the resonance and significance of his film. His Vincent-Price-on-Quaaludes performance is accented by the fact that he never bothered to memorize his own atrocious lines, and badly disguises his glances at the page in front of him as furtive, dramatic pauses.

Things head downhill for H-bomb (now a frantic, “Reefer Madness” style dope fiend) when he tests some chemically altered turkey meat for the farm’s on site research staff (who apparently exist). He promptly passes out on the lawn and wakes up with a giant turkey head. Anne takes his transformation into a mutant monster surprisingly well, and even sleeps with him in his mutated form, although she does express some concern about what the children will look like. This scene is shot so dimly as to be unwatchable, but the sounds of a turkey-monster-dope-fiend making gobbley love to his woman are burned into my memory forever.

HerchDaddy isn’t satisfied being a turkey monster that smokes dope and bangs his girlfriend, so he starts killing other addicts and drinking their blood to feed his addiction. The movie deteriorates (if that’s even possible) into a montage of looped screams and pink squirting blood until we’re jolted back to realty in one of the worst cop-out endings of all time. This is the only part of the movie that’s bad in a non-entertaining way, because it is, as Herschel would rightly despise, cowardly.

The filmmakers clearly have an understanding of irony; Grinter’s parting rant about the dangers of chemical abuse is punctuated by a staged coughing fit that condemns his ever-present cigarettes. How, then, could they miss the irony of this being an anti-drug movie that is impossible to enjoy sober? Or that of putting pretentious monologues in a film that appears to have been shot for $35? This movie is terrifying because the horror in it is real: the real pain of seeing a cast and crew of people humiliate themselves and flush months of their lives away producing a film that would shame Ed Wood.

SCORING:

  • Ambition – 9

This movie achieves shitty movie greatness by having a result that is the near opposite of its lofty intent. The sanctimonious anti-drug message and self-important soliloquies reek of pretension, while the end product remains one of the worse atrocities ever committed to film.

  • Presentability – 9

Guests might be frustrated by the slow pace and the poor camera work that makes it almost impossible to see or hear, but lends itself to a hot turkey meal, and the pot smoking is right there.

  • Sex and Violence – 8

That sex scene is straight up iconic. But it loses a couple points for the irritating use of bright-pink blood.

  • Performance – 4

Everybody in this movie is phoning it in. One of the researchers appears to lose his train of thought in the middle of a line.

  • Datability – 8

This movie was made the same year as the Godfather and it’s 70s animal prints place in squarely in that time period. Also nicely combines the 1950’s anti-drug propaganda with the 1970’2 reality that everyone is on drugs.

  • Script – 6

3 for it being terrible, but another 3 for the ballsy director not taking the time to memorize it before giving his monologues.

  • Relevance – 8

An anti-drug film that is impossible to enjoy without drugs.

  • Originality – 9

You can’t fake crazy. And these guys are crazy. It’s like genius but poorly executed.

  • Cinematography – 3

Can’t see it or here it.

  • Production Design – 9

There’s something ballsy about just using a rubber turkey mask, not even covering the dudes hands. Plus every scene, EVERY SCENE, is scored like a car chase.

TOTAL: 73

Picking up radioactive turkey shit and smoking it.

MOVIE EXPRESSED AS A RAMBLING, PRETENTIOUS MONOLOGUE:

Why do men make films? What drives ugly people to cast themselves as matinée idols and squirt pink water on their friends? The answer is simple…though chilling…cold as the wind of truth that blows through the minds of dope-fiends as their dry lips smile in hazy appreciation of propaganda gone wrong, lives wasted, two director/stars torn apart by idiocy, trapped in delusion, basking in 1940’s production values, adrift in a sea of stock sounds effects. Memories…gone. Loved…by no one. Unbounded…by logic. Hungry…furtive…clutching…snoozy…silly pants…baked potato.

NAMES FOR POTENTIAL “TURKEY PORN” SPIN-OFFS:

Giblet Town

Keepin’ it Flightless

Stuffed

Thanksfisting

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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~ by mgjk on January 9, 2010.

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