Something Weird Video // 1972 // 78 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // November 15th, 2002
Only the blood of drug addicts can satisfy its thirst!
While cruising the sun stroked byways of Retirement Territory, U.S.A (AKA Florida) on his mega-machined chopper, wounded Vietnam veteran Herschel runs into Jesus' personal P.R. representative, Angel. She lives with her dope fiend sister Ann in a house frequented by several prime examples of why American ingenuity and productivity was so poor in the '70s. While Angel preaches the psalms to Herschel, Ann tries to get to "know" him in the true Biblical sense. Realizing that the only begetting old Hersch is interested in is of the platonic variety, Ann seeks her revenge by making the beefy buffoon smoke some oregano doobies laced with pure smack. One puff, and Herschel is hooked, painfully craving (like a pre-pork rind pig out Anna Nicole) more spiked smoke to calm his horrible overacting. But instead he gets a job on a local turkey farm where the inbred cousins of Bartles and James feed him a free bird pumped full of Adolph's meat tenderizer, overly salty chicken broth, and the magic ingredient Polyplotpoint 80. Instead of copping a buzz off the L-tryptophan, however, Herschel turns into a half-man/half bird beast, complete with papier-mâché turkey head and overdubbed gobble. Hungry like the hen, he goes out looking for drug addicts to kill for their rich, chemically enhanced blood. And while Ann feels guilt for getting Herschel hooked, and Angel memorizes the last few Beatitudes, the foul feathered fiend roams the streets of Sun City Center, looking for supermodels, rock stars and grade schoolers to supply him with the opium rich artery juice he so desperately needs.
What do you get when you cross some retread reefer madness, accidental drug addiction, religious fundamentalism, body building and processed turkey loaf? Well, if you're oddball director Brad Grinter, you end up with Blood Freak, the only film in the entire exploitation canon to be endorsed by The Southern Baptist Convention, the Betty Ford Clinic, and the Butterball Thanksgiving Hotline. There is probably no other movie in the long lineage of monster/maniac/heroin related filmography that centers on a brawny European muscleman getting addicted to Chinese rock enhanced wacky weed while working as the subject of some warped experiments at the local subsidiary of the Perdue poultry empire. Only Godmonster of Indian Flats can boast a more bizarre cinematic universe, and yet its Old West weirdness just cannot compare to Freak's Vietnam vet in a fowl mood madness. It's hard to fathom what Grinter was hoping to achieve with this movie. Was he mad at drugs? Irritated by religion? Longing for the invention of Stovetop Stuffing? The motivation is unclear. But the method used to achieve it is downright demented. Grinter is of the old cinematic school that feels a movie doesn't have to make a great deal of linear sense as long as it contains frequent shots of the director smoking. That's right, about every eight minutes or so, our swarthy South Florida celluloid sod appears on camera, eyes blurry from too many Tom Collins, fingers and breath stained yellow from endless Marlboros, hair swirled with a combination of Alberto VO5 and dried vomit, and proceeds to narrate the film by blatantly reading from the script. His Grecian Formula 16 chorus adds an inebriated pseudo-philosophy to the entire pissed off psycho pullet shenanigans.
But these drunken monotonous-logues by Mr. Grinter, with their non-sensical segues and his pre-throat cancerous croak are not the only unhinged things about Blood Freak. The whole religious, Jesus saves subplot is hilariously out of place here. It's as if some cast member ran across a copy of The Watchtower on the craft services table and wouldn't let the production finish until there was a little holy hollering added to the sex, drugs, and turkey murders. The cast gives off the aura of being perplexed by their own performances, with the forced child confession emoting of the actress playing Ann as plastic as the elaborate layers of eye paint she wears -- Tammy Faye must be spinning in her vanity chair. But it's the whole murderous doped up turkey-man idea that shoots this movie into the surreal stratosphere. The scenes of our strung out strongman, big bullem bird head in place, attacking victims and letting blood have an unworldly, downright disturbing quality. You will be laughing, mind you, but some of the gore is fairly nasty. Especially effective is an elongated torture scene near the end of the film. Lets just say it involves our insane roaster, a table saw, and a drug dealer's leg (Lucio Fulci would be proud, if he wasn't already preparing to rip it off). The kinetic, freestyle editing, the endless shots of Grinter babbling like an improvising, smut peddling Criswell, and actors who play dead by wincing and wiggling as all the while effects gore dribbles across their face makes Blood Freak a first rate crazed capon caper.
Something Weird Video truly lives up to its title in the DVD extra inclusion department. Bouncing off the different themes present in the movie, we are treated to short subjects which essay a wide, weird variety of topics: star Steve Hawkes' bad writing, blackmail, drug use, God, LSD, religion, nudist camps, and the pain and horror of being the only family on the block unable to have roasted Tom Turk on Thanksgiving. They even throw in trailers and another round of vintage horror comic covers to intensify the binge bloat. And with such a diverse mix of media, the image presentation is equally uneven. Blood Freak is offered in full screen only and looks like it was ridden hard and left for scrap. Part of this is due to the $1.25 budget, but it also has to do with its status as a lost "classic," which means the only print they could find was rotting away in some relative's septic tank. Still, it looks pretty good for a long forgotten piece of film. Most of the shorts offered have grain and scratches, but considering their age and scarcity, this is not uncommon. And not bothersome. With over three hours of content, this is one fully dressed and stuffed to the gullet disc. So the next time you invite your family over to freeload and feedbag on a little pilgrim repast and want to find a way to vacate the premises before having to choke down another piece of Aunt Lorraine's hideous squash and quince pie, just break out your DVD of Blood Freak and press play. If this 80-minute disasterpiece doesn't have them praising God for the recreational vehicle and high tailing it back to Branson, nothing will. This is the true wild turkey!
Review content copyright © 2002 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* 28-Minute Featurette "The Walls Have Eyes"
* Five Diverse Archival Short Subjects
* Ghastly Gallery of Ghoulish Comic Cover Art
* Horror Audio Rarities