BLOOD FREAK (1972)
Besides being the country where they made all that great taffy that got stuck in your braces as a kid, and the ingredient of every sandwich eaten during the week following Thanksgiving, we all know "turkey"--preferably preceded with "jive"--is the slur of choice employed by upper-middle-class ofay screenwriters penning dialogue for black characters during the final quarter of the twentieth century.
Among us incredibly influential Tinseltown-types, however, "turkey" is the term often used to describe a film panned by mainstream critics and Average Schmos alike as it bombs at the box office. (It's a lot easier than saying "anything with Affleck.")
With the exception of those involved in projects greenlighted to intentionally tank in order to create a tax write-off (Oh, you didn't know?), everyone with a stake in a fright flick's success has high hopes their selected terrifier will keep the film out of the dreaded Feathered Failure category. And with such a fickle public, it really is a crapshoot; thus, you just release your picture and knock on a rabbit's foot the pic will click.
As producers crossed their four-leaf clovers, some pretty unlikely sounding objects of horror have caused palpitations over the years. Matango, Fungus Of Terror (1963) certainly scared cinemagoers out of ever ordering mushroom-topped pizzas again; a whole series was built around Gamera, The Invisible (1966), the sea turtle with roid rage; and who can forget the bone-chilling supersized walrus in Gorath (1963)? Actually, Americans can: Fearing a national walrusphobia epidemic, distributors deleted the scenes from the U.S. print.
Sooner or later someone had to combine the two above trains of thought, creating a turkey horror movie--literally...sort of. Production/direction partners Steve Hawkes and Brad Ginter crossed a bird with a blade-toting pothead and got a...well, you'll see. Like that isn't cool enough, Hawkes and Ginter also included a chain-smoking narrator who's obviously reading a script on the table he is seated behind!
Lead character Herschell (Hawkes), a motorcyle-riding Vietnam vet--AWOOGA AWOOGA, human time bomb alert--befriends stranded Bible-thumping motorist Angel (Heather Hughes) and is soon seduced by her slut sister Anne (Dana Cullivan). Besides engaging in the shameful act of sexual intercourse without first joining in Holy Matrimony, the heathen hussy also lures innocent Hersch into his initial inhalation of marijuana, inspiring Angel to tsk-tsk, "You know, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you shouldn't defile it," thereby buzzkilling any scheme of simultaneous sister-schtuping the biker may have had.
Our play-by-play man's take on the situation?
NARRATOR: Remember that the paths of life are predictable and we repeat them again and again. (pause) Right on!
(Is there anyone who could possibly argue with such heavvvvvvvvvvvy insight? In fact, I'm considering getting the inspirational verse tattooed on my forehead as soon as I'm finished penning this piece.)
As all men do after coming under the wicked spell of women (Who me, bitter?), Herschell is soon a macho mixture of conflicted and addicted. The former has to do with deciding which gal is better for him; the latter, brought about by a combination of puffing pot and eating tainted chow developed by the lab boys at the turkey ranch where Angel has secured the cyclist a job.
Sounds like your standard good vs. evil battle, right? The thing is, once Herschell gets hooked on hemp, his skull morphs into a TITANIC TURKEY HEAD (and trashy Anne still does the horizontal hula with him...as the audio track contains gobble-gobbles!!!)
I mean, if you overlook the fact the boogie man is driven daffy by doobies and looks like he should be glazed in cranberry sauce, Blood Freak is much like every other hack-up-the-hood slasher movie. But how the hell are you supposed to overlook that stuff???
Hmm, maybe our commentator can lend a helping talon.
NARRATOR: There's much to warn us all of the trends our destiny's taking. Our scientists agree that the one immutable law of life is change.
I should mention the above words of wisdom come immediately before the speaker nearly collapses in a violent coughing fit stimulated by sucking on one of Philip Morris' finest filtereds.
Hey, wait a second. The sheer absurdity of the titular creature; the Marlboro Man hacking up a lung; a biker--with a stint in Nam, no less--who never before sampled sativa; do-gooder religious messages mixed with very graphic violence, including attempted rape; a Seventies picture portraying pot as the plant with its roots in hell, a la Reefer Madness: Is somebody pulling our collective legs? Very astute question--and one junkfilm junkies have been debating for decades, with many convinced BF is a massive hoax.
Mr. Manor's take on whether it's fake? All I have to publicly state on the subject is, remember that the paths of life are predictable and thus we should repeatedly view Blood Freak again and again. (pause) Right on!
Selected Shorts: I don't ordinarily go in for plugs--at least not free ones!--but I'm sending out a Stately Salute to the folks at Something Weird Video for doing a bang-up job presenting Blood Freak on disk. In addition to obtaining the cleanest available print to transfer, they threw in over TWO HOURS of extras, including a sleazy skin short starring a pre-Freak Hawkes, as well as the, um, "revealing" Brad Grinter, Nudist, a title that surely didn't humiliate a single Grinter family member.
Those familiar with the company know the primo picture/gobs of goodies package is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for every SWV DVD; and that's A-OK with SWM. Roughly four hours of entertainment per disk, an all-kooky catalog, plenty of bare-babe vehicles: What's not to like?
Well, okay, they haven't released The Curse Of The Swamp Creature. Or The Phynx. Or The Creeping Terror, for that matter....And they never asked me to host a series or pen a cover blurb....And their "thank-you" kickbacks take forever to arrive....Then there's the....