Monday, December 16, 2013


Joel M. Reed, 1976
Starring: Seamus O'Brien, Luis De Jesus, Viju Krem, Niles McMaster, Dan Fauci

Based on Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Wizard of Gore, the magician Sardu and his midget assistant, Ralphus, run a popular, Grand Guignol-esque theater where women are tortured and killed on stage. Though audience members think that Sardu is a master of illusions and the women are excellent actresses, he really is murdering his way through a bevy of ladies. Those that he doesn’t kill are either tortured into insanity, turned into cannibals and kept in a pen, or sold as part of an extensive human trafficking ring. 

Sardu risks it all when he kidnaps and tortures a prominent critic who disagrees with his work. He gets into even more potential trouble when he snatches a famous ballerina and brainwashes her into becoming his newest star. Her boyfriend, Tom, and a sleazy detective try to get to the bottom of things and find out what Sardu is doing with the missing women. Unsurprisingly, Sardu eventually gets his just desserts. 

Also known as Sardu: Master of the Screaming Virgins and The Incredible Torture Show, writer and director Joel M. Reed’s notorious exploitation-gore film was re-titled Blood Sucking Freaks when Troma acquired the film. If, like me, you hate 98% of Troma films, don’t worry, this wasn’t made by them. On the other hand, you should worry, because it’s appallingly boring and full of very low budget effects and amateur filmmaking like most Troma films. Despite its reputation as being one of the most offensive and shocking films of all time, much of this is undeserved hyped. 

Blood Sucking Freaks has pretty much no plot. Sardu tortures people or has them kidnapped and tortured. I could list some of the things that occur -- such as the penis sandwich and the human ass dartboard -- but that would probably make the film seem more exciting than it actually is. Between these lengthy, dull scenes, there are moments of even more boring dialogue that is peppered with some truly awful puns. Acting, aside from Seamus O’Brien’s Sardu, is really at an all time low. It is not even worth mentioning the other actors, most of whom went on to do absolutely nothing. It seems like the only reason Bloodsucking Freaks exists is to show women being degraded and tortured in every way possible or to beat Herschell Gordon Lewis at his own game. It does not succeed. 

The female victims -- actually, all the characters except for Sardu -- have no personalities or redeeming qualities whatsoever. It's impossible to care that they’re being tortured or killed, because they are reduced to such a subhuman level that it’s just boring. The subplots with the deranged doctor and the human slavery ring don’t help to liven things up, either, impossible as that may seem. I really wanted to like this film, but it just tries entirely too hard to be shocking, provocative, and offensive without delivering any results. 

No one should be bored by a film that features impromptu brain surgery, cannibalism, necrophilia, and surprise amputation, and yet Blood Sucking Freaks raises the bar for slow and dull. If, for some reason, you really want to check this out, it’s available on DVD

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