Friday, 16 January 2015

Friday Night Screening: Blood Freak 1972

Blood Freak
The greatest thanksgiving movie ever made

Well, I’ll be damned. I heard about this movie a while ago and the sheer idiocy of the plot seemed right in my alley. But after watching it I’m not entirely sure it’s all that it’s cracked up to be.
Blood freak, released in 1972 by Brad Grinter and starring Steve Hawkes in a role that to this day he still cries about every chance he gets.
But what draw me to this movie in the first place? It might have something to do with the fact that this movie is a mostly Christian anti-drug PSA about a man doing drugs and turning into a giant blood-drinking monster turkey, and don’t worry, it’s only gonna get weirder from here on out.

Herschel, played by Steve “I use to be Tarzan but now I play a junky were-turkey” Hawkes, meets a girl on the highway in need of help with her car. Well, at least I think that’s what’s happening because there is no dialogue and the whole thing is shot from a mile and a half away as if the camera man had a unexplained fear of the actors realizing the sheer stupidity of the script and going into a rage filled rampage (which let’s face it, is pretty understandable). And without the slightest bit of explanation, in the next scene Herschel is in the girl’s house to, and I kid you not, study the bible.
Yeah, subtle isn’t it. Wanna know the kicker? Guess the girl’s name, allow me to ruin the expectation, it’s Angel. This movie is as subtle with it’s religious undertones as John Travolta in Battlefield earth.
Thankfully, Angel’s sister just so happen to throw a pretty tame 70’s drug party to save Herschel from his dreaded fate, which involves blue balls of catastrophically proportion and a whole lot of bible reciting. The sister decides that she just needs that hunk of a man made of complete and utter blandness and acting skills of a lobotomized badger. She goes about this by making him do the most unthinkable thing…making him smoke pot to get him hooked, oh the humanity. I might get back to this but if you’re trying to get someone so dependent that he literally needs you, you might wanna start off with something stronger than the bland salad of the drugs family. But anyway, the sister gets him hooked all while Angel gets him a job at a turkey farm that somehow has an evil laboratory with mad scientists who wants to use him as guinea pig for their evil turkey experiment. Take that, common sense and civic duties!
Anyway, they make Herschel eat a turkey as one of their experiment and he finds himself change into the terrifying turkey-man, well, only his head…I guess the plan was to have a whole suit but at the budget hearing, they might have realized they only had the money for the mask. Anyway, it’s not that violent of a transformation, and seeing as that he keeps all of his common sense and everyone seems to be pretty okayish with his new headgear, you might understand my confusion when Herschel the amazing 1-dollar Halloween costume, starts to randomly murder junkies and dealers in cold blood like the world’s worse rehab trainer enthusiast. The movie tries to explain his antics as a part from his addiction, so when he started to drink blood of his victims I was inclined to scream at the screen the literal million other ways a giant turkey-faced man could get the drugs, but well, then it wouldn’t be Blood-freak, now would it?

So yeah, this movie’s plot is completely off the wall, and since I decided not to spoil the whole flick, believe me when I say it only becomes more absurd as the movie goes on.
But that’s what we’re here for right? Return of the killer tomatoes wouldn’t have been as big a hit if it would have been about aliens, The Room wouldn’t have been the same without Wiseau’s complete non-understanding of the medium. The sillier the better, so why do I feel so let down by this movie?
Well, let’s take a look at it from a purely technical viewpoint. The movie is a mess. A complete and utter underwhelming train-wreck of blandness and cut corners. First I need to explain how the making of this movie went, when in the previous paragraph I made fun of their budget hearing I was only half kidding, when halfway through making this movie, Brad Grinter showed his investors what he had been working on, they packed up and left. I’m serious, it’s that bad, and now left without any money and forced to pay everything from his own pocket, Grinter put this Frankenstein monster of a movie together on a pretty much non-existent budget. And before you ask, no, I’ve never heard of a movie where all the investors literally ran away fleeing a project halfway through. But it does explain the drop in quality halfway through involving all the murder scenes, and even the scenes that seemed to have been somewhat planned properly feel like watching a recital at an eight grader’s play. The effects are awful, what little there are, the whole transformation scene is done offscreen. There is one interesting scene later on in the movie where someone gets his leg cut off, and I give the movie credit for using an actual amputee for that scene, making me realize that there was at least one person that had an idea on how to cut corners without bringing the whole movie down. The props, or should I say, the prop is simply laughable, the first time you see the turkey-faced monster waddle about in all it’s confusing atrocity, it’ll get a chuckle out of you. It’s obvious the mask didn’t have any eyeholes when you see the actor inside hopelessly trying to reach awkwardly for everything he comes across to keep his balance. Most of his scenes are thankfully shot in the dark, where the thing is hard to see, but then again, the rest of the movie is shot so awfully that I’m not sure if it’s an artistic decision or just one more blunder to add to the mess. While on the subject, the editing is some of the worse I’ve seen in a long time. Every scene goes on for too long and then some just to make sure it wore out its welcome. One scream is used for all the victims and set in a loop, which is hilarious for the first few times but quickly loses its charm and becomes obnoxious. The same sound is used every time the turkey-man is on screen, and no, I don’t mean a theme, I mean the sound you hear in that stupid turning chipmunk video that was a ‘thing’ a few years ago. After a while you just start to wonder if they’re just taking the piss out of the viewer.
But the final nail in this rotting mess that once used to be the concept long lost of something that had to resemble a movie is the acting. Now bad acting can make or break a movie, nowhere is this more true that in a bad B-movie. There are multiple levels of awful acting, the over-actor that screams all his lines with bulging eyes saying ‘I signed up for this piece of sh*t, might as well have some fun with it, it’s not like I have a career to kill anyway’, those are often my favorite. There is also the ‘out of this world’ horrendous acting that just mesmerize you. And then there’s this movie’s acting, the bland kind, also the worse kind. Nobody in this movie gave a crap, this is what the first day recital looks like, not the finished product. It’s just painful because instead of being funny-bad, it becomes boring-bad, the worse sin any movie can ever make. Even Hershel who’s supposed to be the big shot actor stumbles around the set like you just told him his puppy died. I guess if I’d seen the script beforehand I’d be sad too, but damn. Not one actor reaches beyond the level of cardboard, not even an extra, not even the goddarn turkeys at the farm, even they look bored as sh*t!

But now, we get to the big issue. What the hell were the people making this movie thinking making an Anti-drug flick, and is it really?

The obvious Christian undertones are pretty out there, so no need to touch on those, but I’ll admit that if this movie is really about drugs, it sure got a confused lesson. If you try to take a job in society you’ll end up as a turkey monster, it’s better to do nothing all day long and smoke pot? But even then, for a movie that tries to teach you about the dangers of drugs, it sure as hell didn’t do it’s research. The sheer non-understanding of the drugs used in this movie makes it adorable to the level of Reefer Madnes.
Throughout the movie, some scenes end abruptly and you find yourself at a table with someone who reads you about things, I guess he was supposed to talk into the camera but his constant obvious eye shifting downward to read the script makes it hard to call this anything close to ‘acting’ .
In the beginning I didn’t pay much attention, the guy was nonchalantly smoking his cigarette while spewing some cryptic nonsense and we found ourselves back to the movie before we could ask ourselves what the hell that was all about. The guy would pop up every once in a while and his message would make a slight bit more sense than the last (might have to do with the fact that near the second half of this movie, I got slightly more hammered as the movie progressed). Later I learned that the strange man was no other than Brad Grinter himself. I was ready to dismiss this movie as just a boring attempt at making people realize the dangers of drugs and make a comment about the man telling us how harmful drugs were while smoking a cigarette when the ending hit me (not the first ending, I’m talking about the third, there’s one more after that, yeah…this movie has more ending than return of the king). The man started to cough, it seems like something small, but with the concept of the movie and the fact that he was smoking while filming his takes it was pretty hilarious, but it went on just short of him standing up, doing a little dance number while singing about us getting the joke. That made me think, was this movie meant as a joke? A parody of the anti-drug genre? I saw the movie in a complete different light, yes, it was very well possible, it nearly seemed logical. Nobody sane would make a movie like this as an anti-drug. So yeah, if this movie is a straight up parody on how silly all those anti-drugs PSA’s are getting, then yeah, this might as well be seen as a goddamn masterpiece.
"Brad Grinter and his infamous smoking speeches"
But I don’t think it is. See, the clue lies in when this movie was made. 1972, the heyday of free sex and drugs, people weren’t bothered with the flower people, it’s only with the advance of diseases like AIDS and other awful threats that the Anti-drug movement got a major go at especially American entertainment. It was only in the eighties and nineties that the movement was everywhere and Mr T and Peewee were telling us about crack. So either Grinter can see into the future, he made a parody of something that wasn’t relevant yet or he was seriously thinking he could do something about the drug situation by making people scared of giant turkey-headed killer. I like to think it’s the latter, in which case, brownie points for the good intentions but zero on the execution.

But take your pick, it’s my personal theory, maybe you’ll see something else. But all I saw at the end was a boring and lazy movie, if it’s just the premise that draws you, believe me when I say it’s not worth it.

Things I've learned from Blood Freak:
- An actual turkey was beheaded for the sake of this movie, PETA's having a stroke somewhere
- I love how in the IMDb page, only three characters actually have names...interesting
- I wanna work at a turkey farm, all the turkey you can it for the name of SCIENCE!
- I'll try not to spoil the ending but it did teach me how to write a lazy and out of nowhere way to all have it working in the end...f*ck the ending is what i'm trying to say.

Critical rating: 2,5

Personal rating: 2

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