It’s always great when you get a film title that has no pretention behind it, case in point look no further than Bloodsucking Freaks. This is the first time it has been released uncut in Britain and its certainly a first for a Blu-ray release. Bloodsucking Freaks is an exploitation film truly needs to be seen even if you only have a passing interest in the exploitation genre. Now, are you all sitting uncomfortably? Good, then we shall get on with the review of this piece of bad film brilliance.
Originally titled The Incredible Torture Show when released in 1976, it was later acquired by Troma (they of The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke’em High infamy) and given the new name of Bloodsucking Freaks. Directed by Joel M. Reed this cult classic is witty, grotesque and in bad taste but is all the better for it. After viewing it you’ll hate it, you’ll love it and then want to show it to anyone and everyone.
The plot follows the mysterious Master Sardu (played by Seamus O’Brien who was murdered a year after the film’s release) who owns and runs a Grand Guignol theatre that also dabbles in S&M and slave trading. He is helped in his grotesque shows by his diminutive assistant Ralphus (who has a penchant for maiming and blow darts). Undeterred by his bad reviews, Sardu plans to put on a grand ballet performance and sets out to kidnap and hypnotise renowned dancer Natasha DeNatalie. What follows is one of the most hilariously brilliant (possibly unseen) exploitation features and one that rightly that deserves the ‘cult film’ label.
Having been available uncut for many years in the states, the UK finally has a uncut presentation of this exploitation classic. While it has aged significantly since its 1976 release – its gore effects are laughably rubbish at times – its satirical wit and black humour have remained ageless. Many of the scenes will cause fits of evil laughter as Sardu goes about torturing his victims, all of which seem pretty tame compared to more recent horrors.
Admittedly it verges into the misogyny of females during a handful of scenes, but nothing that would shock or disgust those familiar with the Roger Corman produced Women in Prison films of the 1970s (such as The Big Bird Cage). Reed’s film is also side splittingly funny in places, whether that is intentional or not is another matter.
Viewers are treated to various moments of depravity such as: a human anus dartboard, a deranged dwarf who’s annoyed with the William Morris Agency, cannibalistic caged females (who still have perfect teeth and manicured nails) and back alley surgery performed by a crazed doctor (who still lives at home with his mother). It’s all done with a knowing wink and camp nod, clearly aware that they’re sending up similar films of this ilk. One can see why it caused such controversy at the time of its original release.
Sadly the downside to all of this bizarre torture and absurdly awful effects work is that the story just becomes a mess towards the end, leaving the viewer scratching their head wondering what the point of it all was. Minus the slightly underwhelming ending, this is still an exploitation that needs to be either discovered as a first time viewing or re-discovered by long time fans. Watching Bloodsucking Freaks will make you laugh, wince, heave and feel the pressing need to recommend to those who have yet to see it. At the end of the day, isn’t that what all brilliantly bad exploitation films should do?
88 Films have done as stellar job of remastering this film considering its wasn’t shot on the highest quality film. Reed’s film is one of those features you’d never think would appear on a Blu-ray release, but you’ll be supremely glad it is. This is the best Bloodsucking Freaks has ever (or possibly will ever) look. For an exploitation feature it looks impressive in places without loosing any of its original 16mm feel.
For the extras nearly all have been ported over from the original Troma DVD release from a few years back. Viewers are treated to an audio commentary from Eli Roth (a long time fan of the film), an introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, a tour of Troma, interviews with cast and crew (conducted by Roth), a handful of promotional trailers and 2 Troma public service announcements (originally shown on Troma’s Edge TV). All of this is a packaged in an impressive limited edition slipcase with reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork and its original poster. This is a satisfying package to a reasonably unknown cult feature and one we urge you to pick up.
88 Films released Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) on Blu-ray in an ‘Extreme Uncut Collector’s Edition’ on the 21st April 2014.
Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) is available on Blu-ray (Region B) from Amazon.co.uk; and if you decide to make a purchase after following this link you will have supported Attack From Planet B, so thank you!