Blood Sucking Freaks: Entertaining, but as sick as they come

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Blood Sucking Freaks directed by Joel M. Reed horror movie reviewsBlood Sucking Freaks directed by Joel M. Reed

Blood Sucking Freaks directed by Joel M. Reed horror movie reviewsA film that seemingly has no other goal than shocking and offending its audience, Blood Sucking Freaks (the lack of a hyphen is annoying) must be deemed a complete success. From first scene to last, this is a picture that gleefully parades its repugnant, gross-out set pieces and depraved characters for the viewer’s questionable delectation. Initially appearing in 1976 under the title The Incredible Torture Show (a better, more apropos appellation, I feel; Blood Sucking Freaks suggests that a vampire type of story will be unreeling, which this film most certainly is not), it was later renamed by those wackos at Troma, which released the film on VHS and DVD with the memorable admonition “Warning: This film contains scenes of freaks sucking blood.” Something of a legendary bad-taste cult item for almost 40 years now, the film recently surprised me on my initial viewing. Yes, the film is as crude, misogynistic, and offensive as its reputation would suggest, but fortunately, much of the distasteful subject matter is played for laughs, the acting (for the most part) is surprisingly decent, and the production values are, well, just good enough.

The plot, such as it is, concerns a Grand Guignol-style show run by the despicable Sardu (the unforgettable Seamus O’Brien) in his Soho, NYC-based Theatre of the Macabre. What audience members fail to realize, however, is that all the tortures and murders shown on stage are real, as Sardu and his assistant Ralphus (Luis De Jesus, here playing the most hateful “little person” since Torben Bille’s Olaf in the 1973 Danish film The Sinful Dwarf) gleefully do away with some of the gals in Sardu’s white slavery collection. When critic Creasy Silo (Alan Dellay) belittles the show from the audience, Sardu has him kidnapped, along with Lincoln Center ballerina Natasha Di Natalie (Viju Krem), to be the future stars in his next production. Can Natasha’s hunky-dude, pro football player boyfriend Tom Maverick (Niles McMaster), aided by dirty cop John Tucci (Dan Fauci), track down the pretty blonde before Sardu tortures her into cooperation and brainwashes her into mindlessness?

If Blood Sucking Freaks truly does set out to be the sickest film ever made, it surely leaves little out in its determination to be so. It is the type of film that might embarrass the viewer as to just WHY he/she is watching it, and yet, as mentioned, it does have entertainment value, twisted and repulsive as it is. Just about every single scene in the film stuns, sickens, revolts, amazes or amuses the viewer; it is a completely unpredictable experience. The film’s director, Joel M. Reed, actually does a competent job (Reed also wrote the script for this thing), and some real kudos must be given to Michael Sahl, whose creepy, appropriately cabaret-style piano theme goes a long way in creating an unpleasant mood.

Thankfully, the special FX for the film are decidedly on the cheesy side. Realistic FX for the bloody carnage that the film dishes out would have been just too much to look at; the cheese factor, fortunately, helps take the edge off. OK, I’m going to give you a laundry list, now, of just some of the things you might expect to see in this film. Yes, they might constitute spoilers of a sort, but your reaction to the following items will in large part determine your suitability to venture into this film to begin with. Thus, in Blood Sucking Freaks, we get to see an iron tourniquet squeezing a head; a hand sawn off; the gouging out and eating of a human eyeball; imprisoned cannibal women eating raw meat; a human dining table; S&M; nipple electrocution; noise torture; a crazed doctor who pulls a woman’s teeth out, then drills into the poor unfortunate’s brain and sucks out her cranial fluid with a straw (perhaps the sickest moment of the film, and one which even manages to gross out Sardu and Ralphus!); those same cannibal chicks disemboweling and devouring a man, while Ralphus capers about and cheers them on; a game of darts on a woman’s naked posterior; torture on the rack; a guillotining; a game of backgammon with chopped-off fingers used as betting counters; the chainsawing of a pair of feet; Sardu’s ballet, in which a man is kicked repeatedly in the face to death; Ralphus frying up a panful of eyeballs; and, of course, necrophilia (I did say that the film leaves little out to offend the viewer, right?). If this inventory of shockers seems to be your cup of (Red Zinger) tea, then Blood Sucking Freaks might just be the movie for you. Surely not a film to watch with your Aunt Petunia, the picture really is as sick as they come.

For viewers today, Blood Sucking Freaks is available via a nicely packaged DVD from Troma Entertainment, loaded with hilarious extras. (The extensive tour of the Troma facilities in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC is a riot!) The Troma motto happens to be “Movies of the Future,” and if the cinema of years to come really is similar to the film under discussion, audiences truly have every reason for concern. Proceed with caution here…


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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2 comments

  1. It’s Troma, and I kind of like Troma films (THE TOXIC AVENGER!) but, as someone who cannot sit through any of the HOSTEL or SAW films, I’ll pass. Thanks for the warning… I mean the review, Sandy.

    • Sandy Ferber /

      At least the violence looks fake and cartoonish in this film, Marion. In “Saw,” it looked all too real, which made it a whole LOT harder to take, for me….

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