Blood Freak – 1972, Steve Sipek and Brad F. Grinter, USA


Blood Freak is a seriously confused creature. Part pious minded morality play on the folly of living an unchristian life, part smutty ass gore film about drugs, sex and mutants, this thing is a two headed monster hauling ass in opposite directions. Needless to say, it doesn’t make it very far.

THE PLOT~ When Herschel, a lumbering, middle aged lummox cruises into town on his motorcycle, he encounters Angel, a nice, old-fashioned Christian girl, with whom he quickly hits it off. Immediately, Angel abandons Herschel at a drug party where he is skeezed upon by numerous ladies, including Angel’s noticeably more attractive sister Anne. Herschel isn’t into drugs or casual sex, so he turns Anne down when she makes a pass at him, and she does not like that shit, not one damn bit. Not about to let her sister’s new friend reject her hard-partyin’ life style in favor of morality or church, Anne kicks the peer pressure up a notch and soon gets her way. Within days, she’s sleeping with a newly drug-addicted Herschel, who will now never again live a normal life and can barely even function in society. Win?

In the meantime, Hershel also takes a job working at a poultry farm, where he is coerced into acting as a guinea pig by two scientists who are testing out some sort of weird, turkey chemicals. Hershel is apparently a serious push over. Anyway, he eats some genetically modified turkey, and shortly thereafter mutates into a horrible, turkey headed monster who is addicted to drugs and must drink the blood of other drug addicts to survive, as do so many of our young people today. Thus begins Turkey-Hershel’s gore laden rampage across central Florida, which claims many lives and is hilarious. In the end, he wakes up, no longer a monster, and we learn that this whole thing was a horrible dream brought on by the side effects of turkey chemicals and the drugs already in Hershel’s system. Apparently, Hershel was in ‘Nam, and since the war, he has self medicated a fair amount. So…. hastily tacked on anti-war message? Hard to say.

As I stated earlier, the most pronounced peculiarity here is just how divided this movie is at it’s very core. It really is fairly churchy, but it’s the “do as I say, not as I do” style churchiness you might see in outspoken community activists from the deep South, the type of person who attends church every Sunday without fail, but who also owns a lot of bondage gear and has a secret torture chamber in their basement. Blood Freak’s message is simple; “Woe to thee who strays from the righteous path of the lord, for he is our shepherd, and only through him can we know the divine kingdom of heaven, but also if you don’t  a damn turkey monster will mutilate you and drink your blood, so now let’s watch some people smoke crack and fuck.” It’s a mixed message, for sure.

One also get the impression that this movie really wanted to present itself as some sort of shocking expose into the wild world America’s drug savvy youth culture, which was just tearing it up in the early 1970’s, but on this front Blood Freak is a clear failure, because it doesn’t look like they were able to get anyone under the age of 40 to even be in the movie. I guess Anne and Angel looked like they could be in their late twenties, but everyone else is firmly plopped into middle age. Herschel especially looks like he must have been cast in a pinch, this man is just old as hell. If someone had handed me a copy of the Blood Freak script in 1971, I imagine the only reason I would have not to throw it in the garbage was out of concern that it may end up being evidence in a murder trial in the very near future, but if I had read it and somehow managed to ignore how insane it was, I feel like I would have envisioned the lead role to be played by more of a James Dean type guy. Herschel looks more like a background extra who bumbled off the set of Hee Haw and into our movie. To make matters worse, Herschel is the worst biker name I have ever heard.

Fun fact; there is like, ONE sound effect for a woman’s scream in this entire movie; they use it over and over again, and it’s super, super recognizable. In one sequence, a woman screams like, thirty times, and it’s the same sound effect, used over and over again. It’s insane. Then in the next scene, a completely different woman screams a couple dozen times, and it’s that same effect again. Damn, Blood Freak. You crazy.

This is a clumsy production, make no bones about it. Blood Freak is marred by many nagging technical shortcomings, it’s full of actors who aren’t very good, and bogged down with outdated tropes that betray the film’s attempt at delivering a more visceral, Euro-style horror gore fest, but as I mentioned before, the greatest folly of Blood Freak is how maddeningly confused it is in it’s very bones. It really seems to think that it’s preaching from the side of spiritual piety, like it’s somehow going to please a super-devout Christian audience, and yet the vin diagram overlap for “goes to church” and “would watch Blood Freak” has gotta be just the teensiest sliver you could ever imagine. This renders Blood Freak more or less unwatchable to it’s target demographic, and that’s a pretty serious problem. For non-churchy audiences, it’s not at all a deal-breaker, but it makes it a lot harder to take Blood Freak seriously, and honestly, a movie about a turkey headed oaf who drinks junkie blood didn’t need another reason for you to not take it seriously. Today, surprisingly, this is why we remember Blood Freak, this mortal wound is now the film’s single most important redeeming quality. After all, in the realm of psychotronic cinema, “insane,” and “great” are synonymous, and Blood Freak is totally bonkers.

For the right audience, this movie is a good time waiting to happen, but it’s a little further down the path than say, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, or Dead Alive. Blood Freak might suck a little too hard for you if you’re not pretty well acclimated to this sort of celluloid nonsense, so you really just need to take a hard look at yourself before you decide if this is a movie you need to see. If, after some reflection, you decide that this is just a little too rich for your blood, don’t fret, they’ll probably remake it sooner or later.


Godzilla Versus Gigan!

Godzilla VS Gigan ~ 1972, Jun Fukuda – Japan


After the radical change of pace that was Godzilla VS Hedorah we are again back in step with more traditional Toho fare on Godzilla VS Gigan, yet another recycled alien invasion/Godzilla film, directed by Jun Fukuda. Godzilla VS Gigan reuses, for the two billionth time, several plot devices introduced to the franchise way back in 1964’s Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster, but Fukuda manages to breathe a little bit of life into the picture with his zesty directing and keeps it feeling fresh enough… But just barely.

THE PLOT~ Gengo is a struggling, out of work cartoonist (Preaching to the choir, buddy) with a resourceful nature and a plucky thirst for adventure. While at a job interview (Wait, what?! You serious?!) Gengo becomes suspicious of his would be employers, World Children’s Land, who are currently building a theme park intended to promote world peace and also giant, horrible monsters who smash and kill people. Gengo, falls in with a few other characters interested in exposing whatever conspiracy World Children’s Land has brewing, and together they uncover the truth. You’re never gonna believe this, guys, but the people running World Children’s Land are actually a bunch of body snatching aliens. Thin ice, Toho, you’re really pushing it. Anyway, these aliens, who are actually giant cockroaches wearing human holograms, intend to destroy mankind, and also Godzilla, and their plans to accomplish this involve two space monsters, whom they control. Gengo and his pals plan to put a stop to this astro-roach bullshit, and that’s the movie.

Let’s do a Monster Roll Call.

  1. GodzillaScreen Shot 2012-09-20 at 10.49.53 AMOnce a towering, insurmountable force for death and destruction destined to blanket the Earth in grim darkness, fire and blood, Godzilla is now totally cool and nice, you guys. Not only is he no longer a bad guy, but in Godzilla VS Gigan, he’s a damn underdog. Most Godzilla films portray him as an unstoppable, scaly juggernaut, the unbeatable conclusion to any conflict, but in GVG it kinda seems like his monstrous snout has finally bit off more than it can chew. He really takes a lot of abuse this time around, including, at one point, a full on Ghidoriah lightning bolt attack to his dragon balls. Rough. (NOTE: Apparently, this shot is actually recycled footage from Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster. So, apparently this has happened to Godzilla twice now!)
  2. Anguirus21956 Anguirus has also come a long way from being Godzilla’s most hated rival to the sturdy, dependable, four legged BFF we see in GVG. Now he’s like, the “solid dude” of the kaiju kingdom, Anguirus is the monster who would come over to help you move. I mean, he’s a quadruped, with no apparent dragon breath or laser eyes, so his offensive capabilities are pretty much limited to biting and just being spiky, but he’s still out there in the fray, taking his lumps and doing what he can to back up his bros. If Godzilla seems like the underdog in this battle, Anguirus is straight outclassed, and you might find yourself worried about the little guy. I know I was!
  3. King GhidorahShowa_King_GhidorahWhat is Ghidorah the king of, anyway? Pissing me off, that’s what. Anytime aliens pop in, they summon Ghidorah from the cold recesses of space to shriek, fly around, wiggle his three heads and barf lightning at everybody. GVG is no different, which proves just how successful his outer-space Craig’s List ads are.
  4. GiganGVG_-_Gigan This guy is the big addition to GVG. Gigan is basically like, the Boba Fett of the Kaiju world. He’s a cypher, he has no purpose and no drive of his own, he’s here to do his job; kill monsters and bust shit up. He’s like a giant monster hit man, hired on by aliens to dish out the death, because truly, that is what he was made to do. This damn thing has no hope of ever living a normal life, and that is by design. Every limb he has ends in a straight up blade, his face alone has four different slicers poking out, and his fucking belly has a fully functioning buzz saw embedded in it. The only means of manipulating an object that Gigan has is to slice the hell out of it, even just picking something up is out of the question unless it can also be impaled in the process. He is super cool, though.

The big monster brawl at the end of the picture actually stretches on for quite a bit of screen time, but it’s excellent. Actually, it might be the best fight in one of these movies yet, certainly it owes more to the big throw down between Godzilla and Hedorah than what was seen in Ishiro Honda’s more reserved, classic feeling Godzilla pictures. Fukuda’s dynamic use of camera works wonders here, the fight feels epic, dirty, painful, frantic, desperate, and mean. Ghidorah and Gigan have the run of the place for most of it, and they really kick the shit out of our boys. Godzilla spends some time down for the count, with Gigan and Ghidorah almost toying with him, beating him mercilessly as he is unable to even regain his composure. Anguirus tries like hell to save Godzilla and take these mercenary dragons down, but he’s utterly outmatched, and thus, is subjected to a series of violent beat downs the likes of which he has not known in centuries. There’s actually a bit of monster blood spurting and dripping in this one, and it really ups the ante and gives this conflict a greater sense of urgency. These guys are really getting hurt!


As usual, a crucial part of the human plan to turn the tide is to defeat the aliens and free any monsters that might be under extra terrestrial control. In order to achieve this, Gengo and his pals launch the most harebrained scheme I’ve ever seen; they literally load a bunch of boxes of dynamite into the elevator of the alien control tower, and then drape a black and white poster with cartoon drawings of themselves in front of the boxes, hoping that this super intelligent race of aliens 1) won’t notice them loading up their elevator with boxes of explosives and 2) won’t know the difference between living breathing humans and black and white cartoons, and will therefore open fire, detonating the explosives and destroying Martian H.Q. It totally works. If your alien race is dumb enough to fall for that, welcome to the Darwin Awards, you do not deserve to continue your intergalactic imperialism.

As said before, this is mostly another “been there, done that” Godzilla film, but Toho manages to squeak by thanks to Fukuda’s talents and in the end we have yet another enjoyable entry in the franchise. It’s more than a little maddening to know that they really see no issue with repeating essentially the same plot over and over and over again, but whatever. I still liked it. Everything else works and even the human characters are pretty likable, except for Gengo. This a-hole turns down jobs and then models a cartoon monster after his attractive and supportive girlfriend who just so happens to have a black belt in an unnamed field of the Martial Arts. Dude- screw you, man. On behalf of unemployed cartoonists everywhere, I hope you are eaten by Rodan.


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