Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

The Toolbox Murders

The Toolbox Murders

Denez McAdoo

Blood Freak1972Director – Brad F. Grinter & Steve Hawkes”A Dracula on Drugs!”86 min. – rated R

Many of today’s more prudish critics often accuse the horror genre of providing little more than cheap thrills and bloody kills for its eager audience, while at the same time making money hand-over-fist for producers who have almost no talent beyond a unique ability to turn out formulaic exploitation fodder that appeals only to the most indiscriminate of class-less low-brow degenerate types. And though this may be absolutely true, if those very same critics were only to give these films a closer look, they might notice that once you wipe away the caked-on blood clot and push aside the rotting pile of mutilated corpse-meat, you will find that deep down inside there lies a message. Like a public service announcement being broadcasted from the middle of a slaughterhouse, this message is hard to ignore. If you look below the surface you’d notice that Friday the 13th is really a warning against promiscuous teenage sex. Dawn of the Dead becomes a criticism on consumer culture. Hellraiser shows the extreme face of the excessive pursuit of pleasure. And, at its core, 1972’s Blood Freak is an academic examination and reflection on the inherent evilness of chickens.

Alright, so perhaps that wasn’t exactly the moral pontification that the producers had in mind when they made this over-the-top and strait-to-rock-bottom no-budget gore oddity. In fact, it seems they had some really lofty ambitions with this awkward yet fully entertaining picture. In actuality the film is so poorly executed and the results are so off the mark, it is difficult to predict what exactly was going through the convoluted minds of the people who made this thing. The back of the DVD release (on the always excellent Something Weird Video) proudly touts this film as, “the world’s only turkey-monster-anti-drug-pro-Jesus gore film!” And truthfully, almost no amount of hyperbole can accurately serve as testament to the full extent of the daft illogic that unfolds right before our very eyes.

We follow the trials and tribulations of a Vietnam veteran turned wandering biker and Elvis look-alike, named Herschel. While cruising down the Florida highway, he stops to help a young woman named Angel to change her tire or something and later ends up back at her house where an all out hippie-fest drug party is already in full swing. But Angel and Herschel are but casual observers, as the only narcotic Angel injects into her veins is Jesus Christ. She repeatedly warns the stoned shoe-gazers that their bodies are temples to God and they should not defile it. After officially sucking all the air out of the room, Angel leaves and the hunky Herschel is eyed by Angel’s younger and more, shall we say, welcoming sister, Ann. At first Herschel turns down Ann’s offers of free drugs and even free-er love, but a few days later Herschel gives in and he and Ann precede to, as the kids are calling it these days, “get it on.” Herschel seems to be acquainting himself rather nicely with his new friends, but as he gets a job working on a local turkey farm, he becomes involved in an experimental turkey research study.

This might be a good time to mention that throughout the film Brad Grinter, the director and man most responsible for this mess, as he attempts to give the film some sort of pointed narration, repeatedly disrupts the action. Instead he just delivers a babbling flow of inept monologues. Roughly, what he’s trying to say is that drugs and chemically altered foods are bad. Jesus is good. His dizzying dialogue is delivered as he puffs and hacks on an apparently endless supply of Pall Mall cigarettes.

Back at the funny farm, Herschel is having a bad reaction to all the chemically induced mind alterations, and he then mutates into what is officially, hands-down, the worst turkey-headed monster-man-thing costume in the history of all the shit-tastic low-budget films I have even seen up to this point. It pretty much goes without saying, what happens from this point on – he kills people and drinks their blood. There’s lots of gobbling.

Don’t be mislead by my inability to hide the fact that this is one of the most horribly produced base-level horror films since Plan 9 from Outer Space. That’s exactly why I loved it; watching this film was the most hilarious and entertaining time I’ve spent in front of the TV since Golden Girls reruns. Praise the Lord!