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I Drink Your Blood
To say Grindhouse Releasing puts out the hands-down, bar-none best Blu-ray releases of genre cinema is like saying: "water is wet", "the sky is blue" or whatever weak cliché your little mind can come up with. I'll jump on Carly Simon's James Bond theme song instead. "Nobody does it better."
Is I Drink Your Blood a "good" movie? Is it "scary" or "revolutionary"? Hell no! What it represents is the tenuous link between the late, beloved Herschell Gordon Lewis and 'movies'; a way to fool a larger handful of punters into the drive-in for some of that good old ultra-violence. So, while I Drink Your Blood might give you the movie-going equivalent of an inadvertent rug-burn, rather than the soul-scarring of, say Cannibal Holocaust, it deserves a look for historical significance, if not for the fact that Grindhouse Releasing is basically throwing the goddamn kitchen sink in your face with this one.
I once took a 'movie critic' class at Community College. (Actually, I presented a speech on such during a 'public speaking' class, but that's close enough, right?) Anyway, I recommended reciting some of the plot in any review. So here it is. A group of Satanic Hippies comes to rest in a tiny town when their van breaks down. Their desire is to rape and intimidate, which gets a little mamma's boy all up in a tizzy. The boy injects the blood of a rabid dog into the 'meat pies' his mamma, or cousin, or Aunt or someone, bakes for a population of zero, in order to stick it to the hippies. Ultimately the hippies kill whoever they can while a neighboring tribe of construction workers goes on the rampage, swinging machetes and foaming at the mouth. It reads a lot better than it plays out on screen.
If you've seen the trailer for I Drink Your Blood in any one of four-thousand Trailer Compilations, (which is all you ever saw anyway, since after this movie limped out of the drive-in, all the suckers felt burned, thus cursing the movie forever) then you've seen most all of the money shots I Drink Your Blood has to offer. What you haven't seen all of, is Bhaskar's performance as Horace Bones, the leader of the cult. Bhaskar brings such a level of hateful, awful intensity to Bones, it elevates the entire movie out of the mud.
I Drink Your Blood should have been a cosmic footnote. Writer/director David Durston's confection lacks logic and tension. If not for Bhaskar, the movie would be relegated to a Mill Creek 50-movie bargain bin release. Its gory scenes are just OK for early '70s fare, relegated to the final 20 minutes of an otherwise amiable 'city-folk versus country-folk' movie, (minus the country folk) or an 'all hippies are evil' movie, a genre which never really took off. If not for Bhaskar, and mostly huckster Jerry Gross' genius marketing, this movie would have died on the vine. It's not terrible, just a tad goofy and mild when held up against the towering greats of early '70s exploitation.
However, Grindhouse Releasing packs such stupid levels of goodness into this obsessively loving Blu-ray release of I Drink Your Blood that any fan, scholar, or random schmoe walking down the street needs this on their movie shelf right now. The movie itself is a little below par for exploitation from 1970, with a little gore, a little craziness, a few machete-waving construction workers running in terror from a garden hose, and Bhaskar, who lifts the whole damn thing on his broad shoulders. Jerry Gross would probably cackle with dollar signs in his eyes while I grant this release the coveted DVD Talk Collector Series rating.
It just wouldn't be Grindhouse Releasing if you didn't get a "spectacular new high definition restoration of the original Uncensored Director's Cut" of I Drink Your Blood in a fabulous 1.67:1 ratio. The restoration virtually eliminates all print damage, meaning you'll have to look hard for minor speckles. Film grain is treated with respect, left present but unobtrusive. This looks like a real, serious movie! Colors are deep, rich, and saturated, with searing greens, reds, and realistic skin-tones. Detail levels reveal all the movie has to give; crispness in the foreground, but not overly sharp, receding into comfortable soft-focus in the background. I Drink Your Blood probably couldn't look much better.
Your Mono 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation for both versions of the feature does an admirable job presenting what Durston and crew originally offered up. Dialog is the most (mildly) problematic, sometimes fading to levels that will have you reaching for your remote, which is probably in part due to an originally overzealous mix of the score with other soundtrack elements. Thankfully, nothing here reveals distortion or decay, while there isn't a ton going on dimensionally, either. The whole affair reads with the intent to shock, and be shrill, which Grindhouse presents faithfully, in the best fidelity possible for the source and intent of the movie.
If you're really concerned about bang-for-buck, Grindhouse takes it to the limit. Starting with their now standard Embossed Slipcover with fantastic art, you reach in to find a clear keepcase (the two disks included are nested on one side) with lurid cover art and a hilarious inner sleeve photograph. A 6-page Liner Notes Insert includes essays by David Szulkin, actor Tyde Kierney, and lead actor John Damon, who both deliver tributes to David Durston.
You probably haven't noticed any of this yet, since you're still enamored of the limited-release, Hypo-Phony Blood Syringe with special packaging, included in this amazing set! Get ready to inject your own meat-pies, boyo! After you've figured out what to do with such a delightful piece of ballyhoo, settle in to the fact that this release is still so packed it has menu selections for Extras, Bonus Features and Special Features!
First, I guess, is the piece of cinematic sludge Jerry Gross dug up to coattail ride Blood, Del Tenney's 1964 'feature', (retitled) I Eat Your Skin for Gross's can't lose drive in two-fer; "Two Great Blood Horrors To Rip Out Your Guts!" Presented here for the first time in High Definition, I Eat Your Skin comes with its own extra, an Exclusive Interview with Second Unit Director William Grefe. The movie itself is a goofy tropical romp with zombie transformations consisting of lap-dissolve shots of faces getting their breakfast on. Seriously, the zombies look like they have oatmeal skin and fried egg eyes. While clearly not a 'modern' zombie movie, it sets up the 'mad scientist creating zombies on a tropical island' motif later abused by certain Italian directors.
Grindhouse Releasing has also chosen to include the tame X-rated feature Blue Sextet, also directed by David Durston, and featuring I Drink Your Blood's John Damon, who contributes a Commentary Track, as a mysterious over-sexed Artist's Co-Op Scam Artist. As previously mentioned, it's a tame film, but sexed-up enough to earn an X rating in 1969. This is likely due to scenes of buff Proto-Bears rolling around together, nearly pitching tents in their tighty-whiteys (an underwear no-one should wear).
The extras go on and on, meaning your entertainment dollar gets stretched to the limit. You get the Original Director's Cut of Drink, and the Uncensored X-Rated Theatrical Cut. Dig in for Two Commentary Tracks, firstly, one contributed by old friends Director Durston and star Bhaskar, which Durston dominates, while Bhaskar remains polite and bemused. A second, new commentary track features actors Damon and Tyde Kierney, which is a bit less self-congratulatory, a bit more scene specific, and occasionally lapses into brief moments of silence. Both tracks are worth a listen.
Belly up for four Deleted Scenes including the unused downer ending. Enjoy an hour-long New Interview with David Durston, 3 minutes of BTS Outtakes, 30-minutes of Interviews with the stars of the show, a half-hour Reunion Q&A after a 2004 screening, 20-minutes of interviews and Q&A from Cinema Wasteland 2004, and more! (Including: German Super 8 Versions (almost an hour's-worth), Bios & Filmographies, Photo Galleries, a Radio Spot, the Theatrical Trailer, and, yes, still more!)
Grindhouse Releasing packs such stupid levels of goodness into this obsessively loving Blu-ray release of I Drink Your Blood that any fan, scholar, or random schmoe walking down the street needs this on their movie shelf right now. Beyond definitive! Crazy with the good stuff! The movie itself is a little below par for exploitation from 1970, a little gore, a little craziness, a few machete-waving construction workers running in terror from a garden hose, and villain Bhaskar, who lifts the whole damn thing on his broad shoulders. Jerry Gross would probably cackle with dollar signs in his eyes while I dub this release a member of the coveted DVD Talk Collector Series. Absolutely essential for genre fans who want it all.