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DVD Stalk Blog - Stalking You Daily!

Bloodsucking Freaks (not about the MPAA)

Greetings from Tromaville!

October has rolled around again, and you know what that means: another Saw movie. What are we up to now? 14? I lost count somewhere around 2 Saw 2 Furious. Yes, I know that means I lost count after 2, but when you've freebased as much as I have, your memory gets a little hazy. I don't remember much from Saw, but I do recall a lot of similarities to the '70s gorefest classic, Bloodsucking Freaks.

Bloodsucking Freaks was one of Troma's first acquisitions, which we picked up back when our first office was a broom closet. It wasn't just small. It was literally a broom closet. It was a prerequisite that they continue holding their cleaning stuff in there, and that their janitors retain a key. Steel buckets, mops[1], and spongy things hung from the walls. Troma came into the world with 300 bucks in the bank[2], so a closet was the best we could do. We bought ourselves a little desk. We set it up with an old typewriter that didn't have a "d" and that for some reason printed the capital "L" upside down, and we began to distribute. Movies. Most people in the building thought we were distributing drugs, I guess. Back in '74 Michael and I weren't exactly the picture of corporate America. We both sported shaggy beards, and my curly hair, when longer than ¾ of and inch, begins to have a sort of Chia appearance.

When we started, we only had a few movies. There was The Battle of Love's Return, of course. We continued to send it out to art houses, colleges, and occasional sub distributors around the country. Sometimes theaters would think because it had the word "battle" in it that it was an action movie so they'd tale it. We'd make ten bucks here, fifteen there. Paid for the typewriter. And we'd do what we could with Sugar Cookies and Big Gus, What's the Fuss? Sugar Cookies would play sporadically. Big Gus continued its streak of theatrical virginity.

Eventually we picked up another film, Sardu: The Incredible Torture Show. The film was directed by Joel M. Reed, the proud progenitor of soft-core sex opuses like Summer Farm Girls and The Career Bed, which had shown on the grind-house circuit a few years before. We changed the name to the Chekovian Bloodsucking Freaks.

Bloodsucking Freaks is the gripping tale of Sardu, a guy who looks like a cross between Anton LaVey, Ming the Merciless, and a heroin addict, and his repulsive midget[3] assistant Ralphus. They would mount Grand Guignol-type sex and torture shows for the Social Register types in the community. Little did these snobs know, but the torture shows they were enjoying were real. They also didn't know that behind the scenes Sardu and the midget guy kept naked women imprisoned in a basement cage. They would routinely abuse these she-freaks in such novel ways as employing them as footstools, extracting their teeth with pliers, and, in a scene reminiscent of Terms of Endearment, removing the top of a skull and slurping the brains out with a straw.[4] There's a cursory plot of a stand-up guy whose ballerina girlfriend[5] is kidnapped by these fiends. But the majority of the film is made up of the "laff riot" vignettes of torture and humiliation.

Bloodsucking Freaks is the single film in the Troma library of 150 films that I feel queasy about distributing. I may have possibly secured my place in Hell by just watching it. It's one of those rare films that is actually more offensive now than it was thirty years ago.[6] However, simultaneous to that, I believe one hundred percent in free speech, and if someone wants to see Bloodsucking Freaks they should be able to see Bloodsucking Freaks.

Bloodsucking Freaks came to us with a terrible reputation and a very short length. Joel Reed told Michael and me that there was a lot of footage that had been removed because it was too graphic, so we, feeling some amount of debt to the Marquis de Sade fans of the world,[7] promptly proceeded to put back the missing scenes. The "Directors Cut" of the movie that you see today is actually the cut that Michael and I did under Joel Reed's direction. After it was reedited, the film, though never a blockbuster, did fairly well on the 42nd street circuit (the seedy, sticky exploitation cinemas around the country as well as on the actual 42nd street). Together with some production work and fees for preparing budgets, Bloodsucking Freaks brought in enough money to the company that we were able to move out of the supply closet.

Troma, Inc. relocated to the roof of the Actor Equity Building on 165 West 45th Street. This is the only time in history that the word "actor" and the word "equity" have ever been side by side within a three hundred yard radius of Troma. To get to our office, we had to take an elevator to the top floor and hike up two flights to the roof and tread across the roof to where we were housed in a gardener's shack. I even had my own little tomato garden up there (like most of our movies from that period, the tomatoes were inedible).

Troma released Bloodsucking Freaks over thirty years ago, but we're still in the business of Blood, Boobs and Beast. Our latest theatrical release, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, is one of the bloodiest movies we've ever put out! Don't believe me? Check out the trailer here.

[1] I remember a mop seemed to stare at me, beckoning me, crying, "Lloyd, Llyod..."

[2] Today, with $327 in the bank, we're rolling in profits.

[3] I'm a fan, to be PC, of the "astoundingly short," which is one of the reasons they appear in Stuck on You, The Toxic Avenger, and Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD.

[4] Well, at least that's how I felt during Terms of Endearment.

[5] And not a very good ballerina-just watch the dreamlike dance sequence if you don't believe me.

[6] Peckinpah's Straw Dogs also comes to mind.

[7] Who you would think would want to show Big Gus, What's the Fuss? At their dinner parties and gatherings.


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