1910s & 20s * 30s * 40s * Pre-50s * Frankenstein * Atomic Angst * 1950 * 1951 * 1952 * 1953 * 1954 * 1955 * 1956 * 1957 * 1958 * 1959 *
1960 * 1961 * 1962 * 1963 * 1964 * 1965 * 1966 * 1967 * 1968 * 1969 * 1970 * 1971 * 1972 * 1973 * 1974 * 1975 * 1976 * 1977 * 1978 * 1979

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blood Freak

This film gets listed as a sci-fi, but it is really a low-Z-grade amateur horror / exploitation film. Blood Freak (BF) is included here, partially out of a grudging sense of completeness to the sci-fi journey. And partly because it has a tiny bit of salience as a low-level echo of the Jekyll & Hyde trope just covered in previous posts. There is a drug-induced transformation from good to evil. There is also the good-girl / bad-girl thing going on too. The production is so horribly (pun intended) amateur that is hard to believe those involved in the production were in any way serious. The cast are almost entirely non-actors (most likely students from a film class that producer Brad Grinter taught.) None of them have any acting ability whatsoever, except for Dana Cullivan, who plays Ann, and she has little.

Very Quick Plot Synopsis
Herschell is a hunky Vietnam vet, riding his chopper down a Florida interstate. He helps a pretty woman with car trouble. He needs a place to stay, so Angel has him follow her home. Angel quotes the Bible. Her sister, Ann, is into drugs and parties. Ann has the hots for Herschell. He resists her advances and offers of pot, until she calls him a coward. He tokes and is hooked instantly. Angel gets him a job at her father's turkey farm. The two "scientists" at the farm convince Herschell to eat some turkey meat laced with mysterious chemicals. (no idea why). He goes into spasm seizures. He awakes to find he now has the head of a turkey. He goes to Ann for help. She still loves him, despite his new abnormality. She worries about their future children. He leaves to satisfy an insatiable lust for the blood of addicts (young women). He kills a few and drinks their blood. He frightens off a drug dealer who is trying to rape Ann. He pursues the dealer and cuts off his leg with a radial arm saw. (no easy task) Ann, meanwhile, has enlisted the aid of two hippy friends. They find Herschell and cut off his head. (This is helping?) Cut to footage of a real beheaded turkey flapping in the dirt. Herschell awakens from his drug-induced hallucination. (It was all a dream) Angel convinces him to pray for deliverance from drugs. He does. Herschell later meets Ann on a windy pier. Smiles. They walk off together. The End.

Passing Notes
Hoax? or Bad Art? -- Some features of BF suggest it is a farce -- a scam to generate a few quick bucks. The ludicrous turkey-head "monster" prop makes The Giant Claw look like serious art. Yet, everyone is acting (as badly as they do) as if the whole endeavor is serious. No winks or nods like Abbott and Costello or other campy spoofs. The narrator (also one of the writers, producers, directors) blathers contradictory pop philosophy, reading from cards on the desk. His blather seems much like the narration in Beast of Yucca Flats, which seems to be trying to say something that continues to elude. (more on that below)

Two Times Zero -- The two principal powers behind BF are Steve Hawkes and Brad Grinter. Hawkes had some prior acting in a few spanish-language "Tarzan" films. He shows zero acting ability in BF, but he does get to kiss the pretty girl and unhook her bra. Grinter did some acting in "naturist" (nudist) films, and produced/directed a few trash horror films. These two cinematic zeros combined their talents to produce…a zero. One might suspect that Grinter was largely responsible for the bizarre screenplay, though Hawkes (who also stars as Herschell) may have kibitzed a bit. Dialogue does not appear to have been his forte.

Pro-Christian Film? -- Several reviews on imdb.com label BF as a pro-Christian / anti-drug / horror film. The attempt at horror is plain. The anti-drug motive is possible (more on that below). But BF cannot be considered intentionally pro-Christian. Angel (the supposed Christian character) tosses out cliche verses (Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit) or random verses which some sincerely trying to evangelize (via film) would not be using. It's like a if the macho hero of a film said, "I grabbed my really big rifle by the handle and jammed some shells in the hole so I could shoot." Viewers would KNOW that the writers had no clue about guns. That's how Angel's random spoutings sound. Clearly, the writers (Hawkes and Grinter) did not have a pro-Christian agenda, but were just a couple of non-Christians writing what they thought a Christian character would say.

Priceless Blather -- After Herschell has become the vampire wer-turkey, he goes to Ann for help. She screams and faints, of course, but comes to. Herschell can only gobble, so writes her notes. She is remarkably calm for having a monster in her darkened bedroom, and goes into a rambling monologue. "Gosh you're ugly, Herschell, but I still love you. What will I tell our children about you? (apparently, she's reconciled herself to life with a wer-turkey.) What will our children look like?" She's obviously trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Rambling Rant -- Akin to Beast of Yucca Flats, the writer hadn't the talent to get his characters to deliver his message, so he just tells the audience directly. Grinter sits in front of wood paneling (very 70s), puffing at a cigarette and delivering contradictory monologues. First, life is full of repetition, following the same patterns. Then later, the one rule of life is change. Things are always changing. (huh?) Lastly, he rants on about modern man polluting his body with drugs (perhaps the real motive for the film), but he puffs so heavily on his cigarette that he gets into a coughing jag. And he doesn't edit this out! (?) Maybe it was supposed to be a sort of proof-demonstration of his point. Or, maybe it was deadpan irony to intentionally undermine his anti-drug sermon. E.g. drugs are fine, have at it. It's a bizarre mystery.

Bottom line? The film can be some level of fun for fans of inscrutable bad-movie puzzles. Someone who thought Plan 9 From Outer Space or Beast of Yucca Flats were great movies, might enjoy (?) BF. Otherwise, one can avoid BF and live a happy and fulfilled life.

No comments: