It's an easy thing to review a film that you love, the words just write themselves as your positive feelings for the piece fuels them. Writing about a movie you dislike, even if it's only for one specific reason, is a bit more of a challenge, and I'm going to have to face that challenge this time with I Drink Your Blood. Still, this early splatter epic has its place in the pantheon of exploitation history, so I'll place it in these pages nonetheless. You'll see what my problem is with it as the review unfolds. It certainly is a film worth writing about, even though a one-time viewing is probably enough for me.
A group of Satanist hippies, calling themselves S.A.D.O.S. (Sons and Daughters of Satan) have invaded an American ghost town, which has suffered an exodus of townsfolk since a giant dam project started up there. They're a mixed bunch, including their long-haired Indian leader Horace (Bhaskar), an older Asian woman Sue-Lin (Jadine Wong), a black guy and some other white men and women. After a nude ceremony with the obligatory chicken sacrifice - which I could have done without, but was prepared to overlook for the sake of a grindhouse epic - the hippies attack a woman who had been hanging out with the most normal of their number, a blonde guy whose name I can't remember. Off-screen, they beat her senseless, and once she's recovered, her vengeful Grandfather wants to take some town justice to them. In the meantime, the Satanists torment and kill the rats infesting their hovel, in preparation for a "rat barbeque". We see Horace dangling a freshly-killed rat in front of the camera, then their pile of dead rats waiting to be burned in the fire. Well folks, the film had lost me at this point. Okay, I can forgive the poor old chicken getting offed, but now there's a pattern here - the director likes to show animals getting killed. Well, I kept watching, annoyed through I was.
Even though there doesn't seem to be any police around, the Grandfather confronts the villains, and is beaten and force-fed LSD for his troubles. Staggering home, he sleeps it off but his young grandson wants revenge. Convincing S.A.D.O.S. to eat some meat pies from the last surviving shop in town, little do they know he's injected all the pies with blood from a rabid dog he's just shot and killed. Soon, the hippies are feeling sicker and sicker, and finally the black dude starts frothing at the mouth and stabs one of their group to death, then hacks his dead foot off with an axe! Wow, Rabies is an amazing disease! He runs off to spread mayhem with his axe. Gradually they all succumb, and one of the Satanist women gives a bunch of hard-hatted construction workers the disease when she - offscreen - has sex with all of them in a rabid frenzy. She's later found dead in a ravine. Grandpa is found with a pitchfork through his chest in a barn. The new batch of construction worker-killers go berserk, piling out of their hotel with machetes, the required frothing at the mouth and dragging along ... a freshly killed goat. Okay, director David Durston had no need to do this. Why not have the rabid hardhat carrying a severed, fake human limb or body part? The film had not shied away from gore before this point, with a victim's hand getting lopped off by an electric carving knife, and a rabid pregnant hippy sticking a wooden stake in her belly. And, very soon one of the crazed tough guys is carrying the head of one of the main characters, it's actually quite a surprise when he gets his noggin lopped off. I just don't see the need to bring a dead animal into a film - possibly even kill it expressly for the film - drag it around and parade it in this disrespectful manner. It had clearly been freshly killed and quite obviously, the director has a thing for dead animals, and the killing of them for some sort of voyeuristic kick.
Anywaaay, the last remaining rabid hippies and hardhats are all blown away by the authorities, and the nominal hero, heroine and naughty little kid survive the mayhem. Notice how I can't remember any of the character's names? I just can't be bothered trying to look them all up and link them to actors and so forth. Still, animal cruelty aside, the film has some merits. You don't see many films with Satanic Hippies. Rare too is the Rabies theme, and the crazed, drooling creatures even have a fear of water which comes up several times, sometimes comically when the poor heroes splash water at their attackers. This fear of water is supposed to accompany "Hydrophobia", which one of the characters, a vet, explains is also a name for Rabies. Naturally, I have no problems with the gore and nudity - the nudity is brief but in a couple of scenes - and the gore is at the technical level of a Herschell Gordon Lewis film. Still, since this is an early-ish splatter film, I have to support at least that aspect of it. Back on the negative, the soundtrack is absolutely awful, one of the most grating electronic themes I've ever heard. It's up at an incredibly loud level, and the mixture of screaming bleeps and bloops will drive you mad. Well, it almost did me.
The acting and dialogue is at a standard level for this sort of film, I have no complaints there and the cinematograpy is rough but serviceable. Apparently the version I watched is an uncensored director's cut, rarely seen until recently. Well, Herschell Gordon Lewis did it better years before, and didn't need to slaughter multiple animals to make grindhouse classics. So there you have it, my little Girls and Ghouls, my bitter little rant ends here. I can't really recommend this one, but it is worth a watch on a few exploitation levels, I suppose. I can only say I won't be looking up any David E. Durston films in the near future .... and there wasn't even any blood drinking!
© Boris "Animal Lover" Lugosi 2005.
Review written: 08/18/2005 21:08:47