Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blood Freak (1972)



          This one’s a turkey. No, not in the sense of being an absolute cinematic failure, although that’s true, as well—the monster described in the title is a turkey, or more specifically, a dude wearing a giant turkey mask over his face. Welcome to the strange world of Blood Freak, an atrociously made horror flick with heavy elements of Christianity and reefer. If you think those things don’t belong in the same movie, much less a creature feature, then you’ve identified what makes Blood Freak unique. Cowritten and codirected with spectacular incompetence by Brad F. Grinter, who also appears onscreen at periodic intervals to provide bizarre narration, Blood Freak is a whole lot of things at once. In some scenes, it’s anti-religion and pro-weed, and in other scenes it’s the opposite. Similarly, the movie’s attitude toward casual sex changes like the colors of a mood ring, because the protagonist is just as likely to call a loose woman a tramp as he is to sleep with her. And we haven’t even gotten to the whole were-turkey business or the grimy scenes of the monster slashing women’s throats so he can drink their marijuana-laced blood.
          The movie begins clumsily, with Grinter’s voiceover accompanying shakily filmed scenes of a motorcyclist approaching a woman whose car crapped out on a Florida highway. As Grinter remarks: “A pretty girl on the side of the road—who could resist? Certainly not Herschell!” That would be our hero, Herschell, played by Steve Hawkes, who shares writing and directing chores with Grinter. A big dude with an Elvis pompadour, he seems to incarnate a different character in every scene, because the script is so bad the filmmakers never decide whether Herschell is a rebel, a swinger, a zealot, or whatever. In any event, meeting the girl on the road leads Herschell to a collective of pot-smoking partiers, and he scolds his new acquaintances for their wanton ways. Yet soon afterward, he becomes a pot addict—at which point the filmmakers confuse the symptoms of heroin addiction with the habits of heavy pot smokers. Herschell makes bad decisions and sacrifices his morality because he’s just gotta have that demon weed. Among his drug-induced choices is taking a job for scientists at a turkey farm, who task him with consuming turkey meat they’ve injected with chemicals. Hence his transformation into a were-turkey who prowls the Floridian night, draining fellow addicts of their pot-infused plasma. All of this leads to a big story twist about three-quarters of the way through the running time, but the twist renders the story even more nonsensical.
          It’s hard to identify the weirdest aspect of this flick, though a strong contender is the way Grinter and Hawkes seem to perceive their bloody, low-rent saga as an important social message about the evils of—something. Another contender is the vignette of a chain-smoking Grinter reciting narration, which he appears to be reading for the first time, until he succumbs to an epic coughing fit. Together with the many out-of-focus shots in the picture, the inclusion of this awkward moment suggests Grinter and Hawkes had so little money (or aptitude) that they included every frame they shot. FYI, Blood Freak received an X-rating during its original release, presumably because the kill scenes are so nasty—murder most fowl, if you will.

Blood Freak: FREAKY

3 comments:

JKruppa said...

I'm sure many here, like me, are connoisseurs of bad movies, and your descriptions often compel me to find these things online to see just how bad they are. That coughing fit sounds priceless.

Steven Thompson said...

Hawkes, of course, is known to bad movie buffs everywhere for his unauthorized Tarzan flicks!

Oculus Orbus said...

+JKruppa As I recall, the coughing was the result of him smoking on camera. At one point he sharply inhales a mouthful of smoke in the middle of a sentence, causing him to cough while still trying to deliver his lines. It's a truly magical moment.