May 27, 2013

Movie Review: I Drink Your Blood

So, I was scanning my DVD shelves looking for something to watch. I was looking for something I had not watched before, of which I have a number. I was hoping for something a little older, a little lower budget, perhaps a little grimy and sleazy. My gaze landed on a little movie called I Drink Your Blood. That would certainly seem to fit the bill. That 1970 film found its way into my collection a ear or two back when I picked it up at a Hudson Horror Show event. I am not sure why it's taken me this long to check it out.

This grimy little exploitation number holds up well. Sure, it feels like a product of its time, but it still holds as an entertaining horror film. The movie was made in the wake of the Manson murders and hippie counterculture and it feels like a combination of Jose Jim's, made as a comment of the times. It may have lost a little of that punch, but it still makes for a fun time.

I Drink Your Blood holds a spot in history as the first movie to be given an X-rating based solely on its violence. This rating gave the film a big hitch for its theatrical distribution as no one was all that interested in an X film. Producer Jerry Gross sent word out to all the theaters and gave permission to the projectionists to cut as they saw for for an R. This, of course, led to a lot of different versions and probably very few who saw the actual director's cut.

Also, the film was originally titled Phobia. Jerry Gross felt it needed to be paired up as a drive-in double feature and ad man Barry Cohen jokingly suggested it be called I Drink Your Blood and paired with a cannibal movie called Voodoo, which would be retitled I Eat Your Skin. The rest is history, although writer/director David E. Durston has never been apps over the title, especially when you consider there is no actual blood drinking.

The movie itself is a pretty crazy excursion. It opens with a hippie group performing a ritual. It is not about peace and love, oh no, this hippie group call themselves the Sons and Daughters of Satan. They are led by a man named Horace (Bhoskar) and during te ceremony they are spied on by a young girl named Sylvia. They chase her and offscreen beat and rape her.

The next morning they find their van has died and they make their way into a town where most of the population has left due to a dam project, only a handful of people remain. Among them is Sylvia (Iris Brooks), who stumbles home that same morning where she is found by a local bake shop owner who takes her home to her grandfather and younger brother, Pete (Riley Mills).

Young Pete finds where the cult is staying and lets his grandfather know. What does he do? It does not involve calling the police. He goes and confronts Horace, who quickly disarms and doses the old man with LSD. Now, tis is we're things begin to go off the rails.

Pete takes things into his own hands. He goes out into the woods and shoots a dog that attacks him. He then takes some blood from the rabid dog and adds it to the bake shops meat pies, which he then sells to the hippies.

Before you know it, they are frothing at the mouth and attacking each other and anything else that moves. It gets pretty crazy, dismemberment, standings, shootings, all carried out with a crazy look in the eyes. Besides rabies, the term hydrophobia gets tossed around a bit and leads to a great scene where infected are fended off by splashing water at them.

It should be said that while there is a lot of ridiculousness to be found, including a very unrealistic portrayal of rabies, there are some very effective scenes. Not the least of which involves a pregnant cult member.

I like the movie. It may be a touch dated, but it is well executed and does entertain. It has some nice performances which help elevate the overall film. Bhoskar gives some crazy life to Horace. Riley Mills is suitably sociopathic as Peter. Then there is Lynn Lowry, she was not supposed to be on the movie, but Durston saw her and wrote a part just for her, that of a deaf mute. She brings a creepy innocence to the screen that is add to look away from.

This is a solid, grimy, sleazy, horror film that still holds is effectiveness. It will hold your attention throughout. It seems a bit tame by today's violent standards, but in many ways it is more effective than a modern gore film in terms of its use. For me, anyway. Do yourself a favor, look it up. You may be surprised by what you find.

On a side note, there is some actual animal violence in this movie. A chicken is killed early on. There are a number of live and dead rats to be found, the dead ones were obtained from a lab where they were used and were not killed by the production. Also, it is kind of neat to know that a couple of the live rats went on to be the featured lead rats in Willard and Ben.


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