It's tough to imagine any other distributor that stirs the cinematic loins of CineSchlockers MORE than Something Weird Video! In the last 12 years, founder Mike Vraney has tirelessly scavenged where others dared not -- or even thought to bother -- with exploiteer extraordinaire Dave Friedman helping to point the way. Also, Vraney's savvy partnership with Jimmy Maslon introduced the cult classics of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Doris Wishman to the digital domain. Their films have become the flagships of Something Weird's ever-expanding DVD fleet. Speaking of, now comes Brad Grinter and Steve Hawkes' homicidal turkey epic Blood Freak (1972, 80 minutes)!
The movie: Fresh from the jungles of Vietnam, Herschell (Hawkes) rumbles down a sunny Florida highway on his motorcycle where he trades smiles with an evangelical "Angel" in a convertible. The two rendezvous at her sister Ann's place where a dope-fueled party is underway. Brawny Herschell is quickly pounced on by both the sister and a drug dealer's swingin' girlfriend, but he's sweet on Angel even though her being a fervent "Bible freak" precludes matching the other gals' bold offers of carnal delights. Still, Ann won't be jilted so she DRUGS and diddles poor Herschell under the influence. Somewhere amid such hijinks, he lands a handyman gig at her daddy's turkey ranch, where for a little extra scratch, he agrees to eat his fill of experimental birds cooked up in a lab. Hopelessly hooked on drugs and ravaged by tainted turkey, Herschell passes out and awakens with a papier mache turkey head strapped to his melon and, naturally, a seemingly unquenchable thirst for human blood. This leads to some particularly gruesome stuff with gals getting strung up by their ankles and having their throats cut. That and a drug dealer who gets his leg crammed into a table saw and then screams like a woman for about half an hour. If this weren't enough of a bizarro tale, Mr. Grinter chain-smokes and intermittently yaps into the camera about what the devil's going on and its greater meaning. His coughing fit after decrying the folly of corrupting one's body with chemicals is especially inspired. CineSchlockers will be interested to note Mr. Hawkes also made some obscure Tarzan knockoffs in Spain including one where an onset accident resulted in burns nearly covering his body. He came to Florida for treatment and soon appeared in this film, where his scars are explained as the horrors of war. Today he operates a big cat sanctuary near West Palm Beach.
Notables: One fleeting breast. Six corpses. Fainting. Peeping poultry. Sneaky junkies. Attempted rape. Giggling stoners. Gratuitous turkey decapitation with fluttering body. Multiple spazzouts. Reefer madness. Waterbed frolicking.
Quotables: Ann on eyeing her beau right in the beak, "It's alright so long as I don't look at you! ... Gosh, Herschell, you sure are UGLY!!!" Plus, any of the varied emotive gobbles from Herschell.
Time codes: Fateful first toke of that demon weed (18:10). Herschell lathers into a full freakout when in need of a fix (28:12). Moments later he's gleefully gulping a hearty, but deadly meal (32:10). Even these geysers of blood don't satiate this beast's thirst (52:00). Freeze-frame pervert's delight (1:00:25). Why youngsters should be EXTRA careful in shop class (1:06:30).
Audio/Video: As is the case with many titles Something Weird snatches from obscurity, the source print looks as though its been stored among oily rags and paint cans in a garage someplace. This fullframe transfer and mono track makes the best of what's there.
Extras: Though billed as a "special edition" the bonus material is rather tenuously, yet creatively related to the feature presentation. Chief among the goodies are six bizarro short films such as The Walls Have Eyes in which a peeping motel manager ogles Mr. Hawkes and his frisky lady via a one-way mirror (29 mins). Discover just how BAD drugs are in Narcotics, Pit of Despair (29 mins). Delve into evangelical exploitation with Beggar at the Gates (24 mins). Learn more about our feathered friends in Turkeys in the Wild (19 mins). Ponder the true meaning of the holiday in A Day of Thanksgiving (13 mins). But the show stopper for most CineSchlockers will undoubtedly be Brad Grinter, Nudist co-starring H.G. Lewis regular Bill Kerwin as a newlywed with a flesh-phobic bride who'd wear a burqa in the SHOWER! However, she's not really the story when Bill drops trou and dangles among frolicking nudists for his art. Fans of vintage horror comics will revel in an extensive cover gallery featuring tunes by Chiller Theatre mainstays the Dead Elvi. Typically generous trailer vault with reels on Blood Feast, Color Me Blood Red, Bloody Pit of Horror, The Blood Splattered Bride, The Dorm That Dripped Blood, I Drink Your Blood/I Eat Your Skin, Night of the Bloody Apes, Flesh Feast and, of course, Blood Freak. Motion video menus with audio.
Final thought: Abandon all hope of comprehension and savor the abject carnage unleashed by this turkey-headed dope fiend. Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.