Bad Movie Club: Blood Freak
1972 anti-drug movie
Bad Movie Rating: 5/5 (Josh: 4/5; Libby: 4/5; Fred: 2/5)
Plot: A poor biker gets hooked on the marijuana and transforms into a turkey-headed blood-thirsty fiend. Only prayer will be able to save the blood freak.
With some foresight, I could have had a "blood movie" streak that could have rivaled the legendary "man movie" streak that this blog is most famous for. Unfortunately, that streak only made it to two.
Here's what sealed the deal on this as a near upper-echelon good-bad movie classic: One of the narrators--Brad F. Grinter, the one who doesn't also star in the movie--narrates, kind of like chain-smoking Rod Serling crossed with Criswell. Here he is:
His narration is bizarre and ruins the pacing as much as you'd expect it to, but the real magic doesn't happen until the very end of the movie which ends with yet another shot of Grinter adding his own exclamation mark to the proceedings. But it all ends in a coughing fit! It makes you wonder what's going on. Is it possible that this whole thing is more self-aware than I thought? Were they just too cheap or lazy to do a second take even though the final thing you get to see is a narrator coughing? It was enough lack of professionalism that made me bump the bad movie rating up to a 5/5.
Find me another anti-drug, pro-religion movie that is rated X. Or just find me another one with a turkey-headed monster like the blood freak in this one. This movie's like a 70's sleazy update of Reefer Madness, wilder and somehow even less realistic about the dangers of recreational drug use. It's hard to tell whether the protagonist goes through hell because of the drug use or because he spent too much time on a turkey farm. Regardless, it's clear that pot can lead to violent seizures, terrible acting, and the morphing into a turkey-headed beast. And that's an important lesson, kids.
That protagonist is played by the other director--burley Steve Hawkes. I did a little research on this guy, and it's been a rough ride for Mr. Hawkes. He was inspired to act by seeing Johnny Weissmuller playing Tarzan and was making a Tarzan movie himself when he was badly burned in an accident on the set and forced to retire from acting. That movie's name changed from Tarzan at the Rainbow to Tarzan and the Brown Prince, by the way. That was in 1970, the same year he got divorced for the first time. Eventually, he owned an animal sanctuary but had a pet tiger named Bobo shot after he escaped. And in 2012, he had two other tigers and a leopard removed from his property because he didn't have a permit. At least he's got this as his legacy, and watching him jerk around on the ground in a simulated seizure is enough to get anybody in some sort of bad movie hall of infamy. For the majority of the movie, he's wearing a ridiculous turkey head. I'll save you the trouble of having to use your imagination:
And yes, that table saw definitely gets some significant screen time. It's the most horrific turkey-related movie scene since Jennifer Lopez's "It's turkey time--gobble gobble." Women are suspended upside-down and throat-slit, guys have their legs table-sawed right off, and you can't sleep for a week and a half because you can't get the imagery out of your head. But you've stopped taking drugs, so you have that going for you.
I've got to talk about the screams in this movie. My loving wife puts up with a lot of my nonsense, but she was visibly annoyed and angry and the length and volume of terrified screams in this one. I think Blood Freak, as well as ending my addiction to marijuana, nearly ended my marriage. It's a good thing the screams are loud enough because a lot of the dialogue is inaudible. I could have sworn I heard the cameraman's breathing at one point, and I know I heard somebody say "Action!" before a scene. The camera work is just about as bad as you'll ever see, so bad that I felt bad for the camera as it tried its best to focus. It all helps add to this outsider art vibe.
And there's this beauty of watching anti-drug propaganda that just has to have been made by people who were on a ton of drugs. It's a wonderful work of art.