Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blood Sucking Freaks: The Grand Guign-ewww


I had only seen one of writer/director Joel M. Reed’s (very few) films previous to watching 1976’s Blood Sucking Freaks (aka Bloodsucking Freaks, The Incredible Torture Show, Annie), and that was a film titled G.I. Executioner, a snoozer that I found boring enough to stop watching halfway through. So even with a very controversial reputation behind it, I was trepidatious going into this one, and I even thought about turning back at one point, but I held fast and on I continued to watch. In true exploitation fashion, the plot is nearly nonexistent, focusing on an off-off-Broadway S&M torture show - in the vein of the Grand Guignol - where women are mutilated and even murdered in front of a live audience. However, to keep it realistic, the show doesn’t resort to cheap special effects or lame 3D to captivate and draw in the audience, instead, these heinous acts performed on stage are actually real.

bloodsuckingfreaks4 This family friendly show is known as Sardu’s Theater of the Macabre, and is run by, well, Master Sardu (Seamus O'Brien), with the help of his midget assistant (and Lionel Richie look-a-like AND star of The Anal Dwarf), Ralphus (Luis De bloodsuckingfreaks5Jesus). What goes on behind the curtain of this horror show is even more terrible than one could, or would, ever imagine. Sardu, being the true sadist that he is, has a stable of women that he has captured, and using torture techniques, has turned them into slaves to be used however he sees fit. One of those uses is to sell the women off in what is a minute plot involving white slavery, but that is more of a method used to fund Sardu’s theatrical exploits. It would be clear that Sardu is more about having these women around to serve his own callous reasons…to torture them in as many creative ways as he and Ralphus can come up with, then using them as part of his killer act.

bloodsuckingfreaks6 While some are truly fascinated by the show that Sardu puts on, there are plenty of viewers that feel otherwise, however, Sardu knows the work he is doing is true theater and should be seen and loved by all - no matter what his critics may think or say. To bring his show to the next level, Sardu kidnaps a famous ballet dancer, Natasha DeNatalie (Viju Krem), so she can give his next show a little more credibility, proving the naysayers wrong about the product he puts forth. Much of the film is based around Sardu and Ralphus trying to break this dancing queen using various acts of violence on other women to shock her into becoming Sardu’s slave, and in turn, a willing participant of the show. And the viewer is along the sick and insane ride for every second of it.


Blood Sucking Freaks is the definition of torture porn before it was a critically coined term created to degrade a specific style of cinema and the fans that watch it (whew, that was a mouthful). It’s pure exploitation, with a plot that is seemingly there only to have wicked scenes of brutal violence and incredible amounts of nudity. This film delivers both in spades, with a copious amount of unmatching carpet, and constant scenes of abuse that play from hysterically weird, to surprisingly creepy and somewhat disturbing. There is a fabulous mixture of electrocution, dismemberment, degradation, necrophilia…and that’s just the normal stuff kids. Blood Sucking Freaks is twisted, it’s dark, it’s misogynistic but there is something about it that stands out above the average B-Movie exploitation film. There is humor that is so dark that it makes the movie somewhat rise up a level, almost exploiting its own exploitation. It’s as if Reed made a film that was making fun of itself and its own ideas at times, and there are points where the movie is incredibly funny in the blackest of ways.

bloodsuckingfreaks3A few stand out scenes that are just completely out there, yet, oddly funny are when Sardu and Ralphus gamble on the results of a board game they‘re playing. Sounds normal enough, sure, but instead of bloodsuckingfreaks7cash, they use the appendages of a couple of girls, removing them on the spot as they make their bids! Then there's the scene where Sardu is enjoying a delicious dinner by candle light, however, he defies conventions by not enjoying his feast on a table made of simple wood and nails, instead, he does so on a doggie styled female, complete with candle wax dripping down her fanny and all. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there are plenty of wild moments that will be burned into the viewers memory long after watching Blood Sucking Freaks. I’ll just say this, when you see a feral woman remove a man’s heart, only to lovingly rub it all over her tits afterwards, you know that you are viewing something playing on a completely different level of sleaze. 


There are a few moments in Blood Sucking Freaks that actually play in a very menacing and harsh way, with the main one being a scene where a doctor does some work for Sardu, and is paid by being allowed to have his way with one of the women. Instead of doing some dirty sexual deeds with his payment - in what is a drawn out and truly cringe worthy scene - the good doctor decides to slowly extract his victim’s teeth. However, it doesn’t even end there, as he then proceeds to slowly drill a hole into the top of her head, then, sticks a straw in that hole and begins to drink her fucking brains! So even during an effectively raw and tough to watch scene like this one, it is still capped off with something that is comedic in the sickest of ways.   

bloodsuckingfreaks9 It isn’t much of a surprise that Blood Sucking Freaks is considered one of the most offe nsive films of all time nor is it anymore of a shock to learn that the movie was attacked by WAP (Women Against Pornography) for its abusive bloodsuckingfreaks8 and degrading scenes involving women. The film is quite vile, and the women are depicted as objects for mutilation, but in a way, that is the point. While I am not making an excuse for how women are portrayed, the film does these shocking things in such a tongue in cheek sort of way that it changes the landscape of it all. It is meant to be offensive, but knows it will offend and pokes fun at those that find it to be that way by going so far over-the-top. The movie itself almost mirrors what the character of Sardu is trying to achieve with his own live shows. Sardu uses over-the-top torture and sadism to create a grand show to entertain the masses, he looks at it as a form of art, and people, no matter how sick the art is, watch it. Same goes for Blood Sucking Freaks, the sicker and more degrading it is, the more people will be fascinated by it, even if it disgusts them to a certain level.



    Favorite line: "Her mouth will make an interesting urinal."

    *Side note - my word verification for this comment was "begone". Fine, I get the hint, Matt-suzaka, jeez. I can see I'm not wanted here. ;)

  2. ... i love freaks, because it disturbs me enough to look away...

  3. Great review of a such an oddball film. I love the idea of Grand Guignol so it's always nice to see that captured in a film, even if I wish it were acted with a little more skill. I watched this right before seeing Saw III and I couldn't help but draw constant comparisons in some of the kills, the braining, the autopsy, etc. In my head, I assumed homage.

  4. This is one of the very few films that I walked out of. Couldn't take it. I inadvertently reviewed the film by puking in the lobby.

    I'm not usually all that squeamish, but it made Herschel Gordon Lewis look like Disney.

    However, I give them props for having the humor to name one of the characters Ralphus.

  5. This movie gave me a headache watching it it was that odd, but some of the lines are priceless!
    Another great post!

  6. Whenever I think of BSF, I too think of the teeth extraction/hole drilling scene you mentioned but also the dart board scene. Of all the crazy stuff in this whacked out film, I always remember the dart board scene even though that seems tame to other scenes, even though it's not tame at all.

  7. @ stonerphonic - funny you mention that about Eli Roth, have you watched the Troma special edition DVD of BLOODSUCKING FREAKS with Roth's commentary on? He does it all super-reverent and serious. It's kind of amusing.

  8. Astro: I’m sorry, I was just in a bad mood, don’t mind me. Please, come back, your mouth would make for an interesting urinal, so how could I not have it around here anymore!?

    Stoner: BSF is, in many ways, way more hardcore than the torture films from the past half decade or so, and that is even with the very dark sense of humor it has.

    That brain sucking scene is so insane that I would never imagine any theatrically released film ever being able to get away with anything near that graphic, and that’s why the ruled so hard!

    iZombie: Despite being a little messed up, it’s nice to watch a film that is completely disturbing from time to time…it almost cleanses the soul of commercial media!

    Emily: Thanks! I do think it is pretty influential on a few certain directors with the specific torture driven set pieces that work as a film‘s focus, as well as the audiences main interest.

    Also, I have always been fascinated by the Grande Guignol and can‘t help but think if I were much-much older and grew up in Paris, I would have gone all the time! We should start our own1

    Jack: I always thought it was a HGL film up until I added it to my queue, and it certainly does dwarf his films as far as the shock value is concerned. And even if you didn’t make it out as healthy as you went in, it’s very awesome that you actually got to see this film in the theaters…how times have changed!

    Dempsey: Thanks, man! It is definitely one of the oddest films I have ever watched, in fact, it was so odd I didn’t even bring up half the crazy crap I wrote down in my notes! Eyeball soup, anyone?!

    Geof: Ha, yeah, that is another one of many crazy scenes. Even though it is not as gruesome, scenes like that one and the female table stick out because of how misogynistic they are. It’s crazy that someone actually thought to do those things!

    Astro: I cannot imagine that wouldn’t be a very entertaining listen!

  9. I have STILL yet to see this. I assume its on Netflix, no?

    My word verification is 'fealit.' I most certainly will not.

  10. But what if I gave you a producer credit on Josie, the theme song and both films on DVD, would you feel it then?

    I would definitely recommend this one for you, JC...it is so whacked that you should enjoy it!

  11. If you can believe it, I still havent seen this one Matt. Looking to correct that shortly though, since it is on Netflix slash my Amazon wishlist

  12. Yeah, while it wouldn't be one to watch all that often, it is one that I think is worth owning on DVD, especially with the commentary that Astro brought up. It's definitely something that is a collection necessity for trashy horror fans!


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