Image Entertainment // 1972 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 14th, 2006
a.k.a. Incense of the Damned, a far cooler title.
Hey, it's a vampire movie from the '70s! How original, right? But before you get all snarky on me, know that Bloodsuckers represents a different approach to the idea of vampirism. Does it work? Well, the jury is still out, but it should be back by the end of the review. You see, that's how we do the reviews on this web site, with a courtroom gimmick. Clever, huh, my "jury's out" line?
When young Richard Fountain (Peter Mower) disappears in Greece, his bad-ass friends decided to try and hunt him down. What they don't anticipate, as they embark on their trans-global investigation, is that Richard has involved himself with a sect of horny orgy-folks who have found sexual enlightenment from drinking one another's blood.
Bodies pop up every time Richard's friends hone in on his trail, and all signs point to vampire mayhem. The chase continues into the mountains of Greece, where Richard is found, half off the deep end, apparently under the wiles of a voluptuous sexpot who gets her kicks from sucking down some O-positive from her beaus' necks.
Now Richard and crew must escape the clutches of the deranged cultists and returns to England -- but Richard's rehabilitation from vampire sex may be more difficult than anyone could have anticipated.
First things first: Bloodsuckers, despite its lurid title and the splash of a nude girl screaming and covered in blood on the disc jacket, is more a mystery-thriller than a flat-out horror flick. And as far as its take on vampirism is concerned, well, it's certainly unique. Basically, the film posits that bloodsucking is a psychological construct emanating from sexual inadequacy.
While that plotline doesn't exactly scream "kick-ass horror awesome!" and would appear to be more at home in the bowels of a weighty psychiatric textbook, it is a fairly refreshing approach to the tired genre cliches. Plus it allows for a super-trippy orgy scene.
The horror elements are downplayed and the gore effects are very low -- the extent of the blood and guts is some Greek women running around with fruit punch on their mouths -- and the actual on-screen vampire action is limited. But grossing the viewer out is not the point of the film. Bloodsuckers wants to play with the vampire mythos, but mainly to throw a chase saga at you.
I have to say, it moderately succeeds in that respect. Despite a few slow patches, the film moves along at a decent clip, thanks to the forward momentum of Richard's pals' globetrotting investigation. These dudes are constantly on the move, tracking down leads and fending off the violent advances of scumbags looking to protect the blood-slurping sex cultists. There's actually a surprising bit of action here, with the Chuck Norris Award for bountiful, though awkward-looking, fisticuffs sequences going to the African guy, one of Richard's friends, who only came to kick ass and chew bubblegum -- and he was all out of bubblegum.
Smartly, the flick resolves the Richard-on-the-run storyline about three-quarters the way through and changes narrative gears: the final act finds Richard thrust back into high-falootin' British university life, where he's on the cusp of giving a big speech to a bunch of academics. The true effects of his tango with sexual perversion will reveal itself in a pretty dope ending.
Look, Bloodsuckers is decent for what it is: something different and a solid thriller. The horror is tame, the pace sometimes meanders, and there are more than a few cheesy moments (the orgy scene is lengthy, goofy, and non-erotic); but overall I didn't hate the movie.
Redemption has issued this disc with a minimal amount of fanfare, but it should suit the fans that were somehow searching out this rarity. The transfer is full screen, and performs well throughout, despite a few print flaws. The mono soundtrack is uninspiring. Sadly, only a photo gallery is offered as an extra.
If you're after a blood-drenched vampire film rife with sadomasochistic sex (which the synopsis on the disc-case hints at) you'll likely be disappointed with Bloodsuckers. But horror fans in general might appreciate the new spin and everyone's gotta love that bad-ass African mofo.
The accused actually doesn't suck.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Photo Gallery