PSYCHOTRONIC MOVIES IN OUR ZONE
Having waded through my fair share (and more – OH LORD!) of garbage horror, sci-fi, gang, and other various genre films, it is, and will always remain, startling to come upon a film that defies expectations within this realm. The reasons for such are myriad, but one factor leads them all by a mile and a half. For the most part genre films exist for a single reason: to make $$$$$$$. With such an obvious, singular pursuit in hand it is very easy to understand how rush jobs, bad ideas, lazy ideas, and shoddy performances and productions were/ are committed to celluloid/ video. On very rare occasions however, something magical can occur. Whether it be a great script (say, Piranha), an unrelenting vision meeting a perfectly simple story (say, Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre), or the results of a gutter auteur (say, Carpenter, Henenlotter, Cohen, etc.) some genre/ exploitation films are able to get enough right to rise above the fray. I DRINK YOUR BLOOD is one of these films, its status as a cult classic resting squarely on the shoulders of its strange ensemble cast, and unusual star.
Originally titled Phobia, in terms of story – hippie satanists (non-LaVeyan) wreak havoc on a small town after they are infected with rabies in a rape and revenge plot – I DRINK YOUR BLOOD comes off as remarkable. Though, so do many, many, many shitty genre/ exploitation films when their entirety is reduced to a single sentence. The film is a proto-genre mashup really, embodying 3 distinct strains of genre film making: the hippie film (the film’s genesis stems from the real life horrors of the Manson family), the disease outbreak film (presaging the likes of The Crazies, and Shivers), and the loathsome rape and revenge film (a horrible genre if there ever was one, at least the atrocities occur off-screen here). Even with this ludicrous plot this film may very well have been awful (and forgotten) if not for its cast.
Baffling-ly diverse (in 1970, for a genre film?!) this bunch of actors is led by Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury (or just BHASKAR, as Horace Bones), an Indian dancer who is essentially unknown outside of his performance in I DRINK YOUR BLOOD. Here he is the main villain, and satanist leader. He oozes charisma while acting a complete wide eyed psycho. Forget the (really, pretty decent) gore effects, Chowdhury is the main reason to see this film. Bones’ gang is rounded out by an older Chinese woman (Jadin Wong, who was apparently a New York socialite of some kind?!), a black man, and three white women (one a mute!). And there’s a white guy (or two) in there somewhere also. Each member of this ensemble is fantastic, collectively making up one of the weirdest gangs/ cults that you’ll be able to find in the movies, ever. Accolades should also rain down upon the heads of Riley Mills who plays young Pete, infect-or of meat pies, and whoever it was that came up with the idea of the cult using LSD as a weapon against old Doc.
This one is a diamond in the rough folks (with a weird synth score that I forgot to mention), and one that does not get screened very often at all (I’ve never seen it in the theater). Take the chance, eat the pie.
I Drink Your Blood
dir. David E. Durston
Screening Saturday, September 17 @ 11:59pm @ the Coolidge C0rner Theater