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Saturday Night at the Movies

By Tony O’Neill.

Blood Freak (1972), DIR. Brad F. Grinter

Blood Freak! Blood Freak! Blood Freak! The title alone hips you to certain unarguable facts: that this will be a better movie than Inception, and that it will contain both blood (it does) and at least one freak (yup, not counting the freaks who made this cinematic abortion). Where do I sign up?

Blood Freak is an anti-drug movie made by Christians back in the heady days of 1972. Blood Freak‘s plot contains plenty of anti-drug / pro-religion subtext. However, unlike most po-faced anti-drug propaganda produced these days it also has tons of gore, a bare ass or two, and a turkey-headed monster with a thirst for blood.

You can’t get Night Nurse in US pharmacies, nor can you get codeine or anything else interesting without a prescription. However our pharmacies sell booze. Hooray for America, because you’ll need quite a bit of rotgut liquor to make a movie like Blood Freak enjoyable in any conventional sense.

Quick plot summary: Hershell, an ex Viet Nam vet with an Elvis quiff meets Angel, a born again chick who likes spouting bible verses. When Angel takes Hershell in, he also meets Angel’s no good, pot-smoking sister Anne. While Angel tries to talk Bible talk with Hershell, Anne tries to seduce him. Finally Hershell succumbs to Anne’s wiles, and he even takes a hit from one of her joints. OH SHIT! This results in Hershell becoming HOPELESSLY ADDICTED to weed. Oh Jeez, Hershell, now what?

Get a job at a turkey farm, that’s what! Hershell takes a gig as a human guinea pig for some new, fancy chemically altered turkey meat. The scientists at this joint helpfully pay Hershell in weed, which at least helps with the whole “hopelessly addicted” problem. After eating a whole turkey Hershell has some kind of a seizure, and ends up dumped in a field by the spooked scientists. When he wakes up he has been transformed into a strung-out, blood-fiending turkey-headed mutant.


About now the Colt 45 with a Cisco chaser is making focusing difficult. I start thinking about a time, maybe ten years ago; I ended up getting dragged to a Marilyn Manson concert on ecstasy by an artist friend of mine. She freaked out right after Courtney Love fell offstage and broke her ankle, and then Manson came out trying to scare people with his satanic hokum (I preferred Screamin’ Jay Hawkins). My friend freaked and ran out to her car, and insisted that we listened to ‘The Age of Aquarius’ by the 5th Dimension over and over until she calmed down. That song still gives me the horrors, and a strange sense of impending doom.

But wait! The film drags me back. Turkey-head Hershell has a bad drug jones, which can only be satiated by drinking the blood of heroin addicts (a conceit which was later explored in the New York punk sci-fi classic Liquid Sky). Legs are ripped off! Blood spurts! Throats are slashed! There is some brief nudity!

I started to zone out completely again. The dialogue is particularly bad, and seems to be improvised by people on Thorazine. Then, someone decapitates turkey-head Hershell with a machete, shaking me out of my stupor. But wait! Suddenly we’re back in the field were Hershell first became a monster. Hershell is alive, and he doesn’t have a turkey head. Yup, you guessed it…. IT WAS ALL A DREAM!

The owner of the turkey farm finds Hershell laying around in a marijuana (and turkey) induced stupor, and calls Angel who happens to work at a drug rehab center. She shows up, they pray for a bit that God will cure Hershell of his drug addiction, and then she takes Hershell to rehab. Hershell cleans up and at the end of the movie he even gets the girl (the born again girl, not that dirty hippy pot smoking sister). Thanks God!

I think that there was a narrator, but that could have been the voices in my head, or maybe the neighbors yelling through the walls. I had a hangover as the credits rolled, and I swear I’ll never eat turkey again. To sum up: Blood Freak – bad, but nowhere near as bad as a Jennifer Aniston movie.

Tony O’Neill is the author of Sick City. You can read 3:AM‘s interviews with him here, here and, most recently, here.

First posted: Saturday, August 28th, 2010.

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