Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blood Freak – review

Directed by: Brad F Grinter & Steve Hawkes

Release Date: 1972

Contains spoilers

I sat and watched this film expecting a turkey. Not a turkey of a film (well actually I did) but an actual turkey. You see this is a ham-fisted attempt at a pro-Christian, anti-drugs message, in a horror film format, where the horror surrounds a blood drinking turkey-man. Okay, let’s have a look at why it is vamp before I go on.

Where man turned into human/turkey hybrids by experimental drugs are not your normal vampire film, the film is listed on filmographies as a vampire movie. The creature does drink blood, turning into a turkey is part of the nagual myth – which is a Mexican evil sorcerer who does drink blood and, well damn it all, I wanted to give this a score. So vamp it is, review it gets.

The film is narrated by a man – I’m sorry the credits are few and far between – who mumbles on about choices and consequence. He appears through the film and helps push the anti-drugs message. Amusing as towards the end he is hacking real well due to the cigarettes he chain smokes whenever he is on screen.

The film itself concerns Herschell (Steve Hawkes), a Vietnam vet who stops to help a woman, Angel or Angela – the sound was awful, with a car problem. She takes him to a party that her sister Ann is throwing. Angel is a bible reading, anti-drugs person (who works in a rehab clinic) and, as Ann is into her drugs, she has Herschell promise not to take anything.

Ann likes Herschell and wants him to take drugs, but he refuses. He leaves with Angel and gets offered a job on her dad’s poultry farm. Ann is determined to get her man and is given some instantly addictive drugs by a dealer named Guy, who wants to get Herschell as he insulted his girl. By suggesting he is a coward, Ann manages to get Herschell to take the drugs and they end up in bed.

Over at the poultry farm they are experimenting with chemicals for the turkeys (presumably to get them to grow bigger or faster or something). They need to human test the turkeys by having someone eat the flesh and so get Herschell to eat a turkey for some extra cash. He does, collapses and convulses, so the scientists ditch his body. The addictive drugs and experimental drugs are clearly reacting together.

Ann wakes up and sees… A giant papier-mâché turkey head. She screams, but the Turkey man passes her a note telling her it is Herschell (as he can now only gobble). Oh, that’s all right then but… what would happen if they married, what would the children think, what would they look like… I kid you not, these are her first concerns.

So that is it, in a nutshell. Herschell did not put his faith in God and did take drugs (plus eat experimentally chemical laced turkey) and is now a giant turkey headed man with, it seems, a taste for blood. There is some vague indication that he is going for drug users and dealers, perhaps for the drugs in their system. However that is inconclusive.

So, how does he feed? Does he stick them with his giant beak? Of course not, a papier-mâché beak isn’t up to it. What he does is string his victim upside down, slits their throat with a knife and then catches the blood in his cupped hands to drink. Of course, it ll makes perfect sense.

It is an ideal time to talk about the effects at this point. The papier-mâché head is bad. So is the blood, as I didn’t realise that blood was pink rather than red, perhaps that is the key – he’s aiming for people with milkshake in their veins! He also cuts a man’s foot off with a circular saw and to see the blood pumping out of a clearly plastic prosthetic was terrifying!

Can he die? Yes, but not by being stabbed in the eye – the closest we get to a staking. How would you kill a turkey? Decapitation is the order of the day and this is where many modern sensibilities will be repelled by the film as this is represented by the decapitation of an actual turkey. Yes, it happens all the time, no, it shouldn’t happen for entertainment. An animal was clearly harmed in the making of this film.

The film is a mess. The dialogue is awful and doesn’t quite escape from the uniformly poor performances. Lines are tripped over and there isn’t an emotion in the house. It is a preposterous idea which then sinks into a nonsense of preachy messages. I am giving this 1 out of 10, for the sheer fact that you’ve never seen anything like it and it is honest in the fact that it is about a turkey and is a turkey.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK


Anonymous said...

I've heard how terrible this movie is for years. I've even seen the theater trailer for it, but I've never seen the movie itself. Thanks for the review. Now I won't have to knock myself out looking for it.

Oh, by the way, don't do drugs.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mark, great to hear from you and glad to do my public service.

I will second the comment "don't do drugs" and add especially before eating chemically laced turkey.

But seriously, for a moment, the problem in the movie wasn't the messages they had but the ham-fisted unsubtle attempts to hammer them home.