Sunday, January 01, 2017

Invasion of the Blood Farmers – review

Director: Ed Adlum

Release date: 1972

Contains spoilers

This is a film I’d ignored for such a long time, convinced it probably wasn’t a vampire film. Then I saw an article with it tagged as a vampire vehicle and thought, well I’d better check it out – it’ll be a ‘Vamp or Not?’ Here I am, however, reviewing the film – no exploration of its vampire credentials necessary. What it is, however, is a remarkably bad movie, a glorious example of B that has to be seen.

There are two general levels of bad movie. Simply bad movies and those that are so bad they are good, that have a certain je ne sais quoi; call it earnestness, naivety or charm. Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space had it and an ineffable something in this reminded me of Plan 9. That’s not to say that this is an alien invasion – I thought it might be at one point – no these are something else altogether.

Jim overacts into a bar
So a voice over (ok it was a little Criswell-like) tell us of a people whose lives and Gods were different to ours. The Druids. Not just any old druids, these were blood eaters and were called Sangroid Druids. We see a guy staggering down the road, he is covered in blood. In a bar the barflies (including Shorty, the local Deputy) are asking Cliff if Helen has sent any news. Helen is his wife and has been missing two weeks. Cliff leaves and Shorty suggests that he’ll take up the search when Police Chief Frank Spano (Frank Iovieno) returns from Capitol City. It’s not just Helen who seems to have vanished, they haven’t seen the Whitakers for a while – but they were always unsocial – and local drunk Jim is missing too. The staggering guy approaches the bar, and falls through the door – it is Jim and his death scene is a perfect example of overacting.

by the creek
Down by a creek are Don (Bruce Detrick) and Jenny (Tanna Hunter), he’s not been as attentive as he should be as he has been spending all his time in her dad’s lab. Her dad is Dr. Roy Anderson (Norman Kelley), the local pathologist. Don is distracted due to seeing Jim’s body… he describes it as being like the man blew up. They get back to the house and Don is called to the lab. The blood sample he took from Jim is unstable and the blood is reproducing (later we see beaker’s overflowing).

Cynthia Fleming as Onhorrid
We also see – over at the Whitaker’s place, people strapped up and being drained. The folks doing the draining are dressed a bit like yokels but some wear black hoods. The film has the two pathologists trying to work out the puzzle of the blood, whilst various persons are kidnapped – mostly by a blood farmer called Egon (Jack Neubeck). The majority of the plot is centred around the blood farmers lore. They are Sangroid Druids and they are looking to resurrect their queen Onhorrid (Cynthia Fleming). She has been in a state of suspended animation for three hundred years. There is a particular window of opportunity in which to resuscitate her and if they fail the Prince of Darkness may take her and all the Sangroid Druids will die (it is lore, I guess, but it really seems like someone just wrote down a random stream of consciousness).

bitten neck
The druids are led by the unfortunately named Creton (Paul Craig Jennings) and they test their subjects by making them partake of the Memenon (possibly) cup – this causes the haemostatic (I’m sure they got the term wrong) balance to increase and the blood to reproduce. To awaken the Queen they need the blood of one whose blood won’t react (and who it is is broadcast early on). They feed on blood generally. This is underlined when one of Anderson’s professor friends proves to actually be the Sangroid Druid Sontag (Richard Erickson) who mentions feeding. Egon has a blood addiction in overdrive, apparently, and we see him both bite into a dog (later found to be entirely drained of blood) and a human victim’s neck after hitting her over the head to render her unconscious.

unusual camera angle
As for the Queen, she is revived by drinking some of the chosen one’s blood (or having it smeared on her lips) and then is fully restored by bathing in their blood. It’s all in there, in kind of random ideas chucked at the film for good measure. The acting is about as good as the ideas are consistent – which is to say not at all. However, like Plan 9, we see an earnestness in the performances. This really is like the son of an Ed Wood feature. The film changes contrast randomly – when they just bunged in additional footage that looked nothing like the scene we are watching – and the photography mesmerises with some of the strangest camera angles chosen for shots.

quality of the filming changes
Yes… mesmerising. That is probably the best way to describe this. Rubbish but absolutely mesmerising. The soundtrack adds to the earnestness with a melodramatic flourish that has to be heard to be believed and you should hear it. Though it has to a get a poor score, because it is a poor film, it really needs to be seen.

2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: