Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Drink Your Blood

E prepares the pies that begin the deadly rampage...Every once in a while you see a film that ends up being way better than it deserves to be. You can't necessarily call it a good movie, per se, but it definitely has some kind of spark that you're not entirely expecting. I discovered one such movie earlier this week at the Plaza theater in Atlanta and thought I would take a moment to recommend it to those who haven't seen it yet. The film in question is I Drink Your Blood.

Don't come into this thinking that this is an amazing movie. Or a great one. Or even a competent one. It is the lowest of the low in terms of budget and the acting is pretty hammy across the board. But horror fans have come to expect that few films in the genre are actually good movies. They're usually varying degrees of bad, but with some creative or innovative means of storytelling thrown in for good measure.

The plot of I Drink Your Blood is your standard "Boy injects meat pies with the blood of a rabies-infected dead dog in order to sicken a roving band of satanic hippies who have taken up residence in an abandoned hotel and who have dosed the boy's sister and grandfather with LSD, but in fact ends up giving the hippies rabies which sends them on a rampage of bloodlust and violence" story. One that's been told countless times before, no doubt.

I Drink Your Blood was produced by Jerry Gross, the producer and/or distributor for a number of exploitation films that have since become classics: Mondo Cane, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, I Spit on Your Grave and Zombie, to name a few. Having seen the success of Night of the Living Dead, Gross wanted to capitalize on its popularity without being completely derivative. To that end, he hired David Durston to create a film that worked on a similar level but without utilizing zombies. He wanted something more rooted in real life. Durston wrote a script called Phobia that dealt with a group of Satan worshipping hippies that became rabid and terrorized a small town.

Gross liked the idea and allowed Durston to begin filming it. Gross ultimately decided it would be best to release the film as a double feature with an older black and white zombie film he had. In a stroke of genius, Phobia was retitled as I Drink Your Blood and the other film became I Eat Your Skin. Of course, this led to an ad campaign that utilized those names to their fullest.

Once the movie was completed the next hurdle presented itself. The film received the very first X rating given out based solely on violent content. This presented an issue for the producer, as every day that the film was not released was another day that the film wasn't making him money. Very few theaters at the time were willing to present X rated material, so he sent the prints to the theaters and left it up to the individual projectionists to edit the film as they saw fit. As a result of this decision, no two copies of this film that one could see were the same.

The version we saw at the theater this week was a full 8 minutes shorter than the "full version" available on DVD. In the case of our print, a good deal of the gore had been removed, as well as some sexual material. This led to interesting plot issues, such as a complete lack of explanation on how the virus spread to the dam (it was a gang rape), how one of the cultists had died (she had been killed after being gang-raped at the dam) and an absolutely amazing edit where a scene was cut in the MIDDLE of the exposition explaining the plot.

The hippies of the film were an obvious reference to Charles Manson and his "family". Given that the film was made in 1970, this reference would still have been quite relevant. Not only were they hippies, but they worshipped Satan, and apparently Benetton as well, given the racially diverse nature of their group. This included a black man, a mute, a middle-aged Asian woman, two white guys, and an Indian.

So, after all, this, am I recommending that you rush out and rent I Drink Your Blood? Not necessarily. If you are at peace with bad filming, bad dialog, inexplicable cuts, terrible acting, and the general feel of a 70's exploitation film, then you probably find this to be an enjoyable romp. It's not great. It's not amazing. But, if nothing else, it is very entertaining.

And isn't that all we want from a film?


Lisa Wines said...

This sounds like the perfect movie for Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Don't you wish those guys were still around?

E said...

Actually, they are.

Mike has an internet site called Rifftrax. They offer downloadable mp3's that sync up to dvd's for popular films. He gets the guys that do the voices for Crow and Tom Servo to join him. They've done The Matrix, 300, Revenge of the Sith and many, many others.

Joel offers something similar, called Cinematic Titanic, though his service provides the entire movie, whereas Rifftrax only provides the mp3.

And the crowd pretty much played MST3K while we were there. I know I cracked more than a handful of jokes at that movie's expense. :)

CW FISHER said...

Tonight I'm making injected meat pies for the whole family! Mmmmmmm!