Bloodsucking Freaks – Hateful Misogyny or Campy Horror Fun?

 

On Tuesday, November 26, 2013 7:19 PM, Chris lane wrote:
Bloodsucking freaks (1976)

Bloodsucking Freaks is a 1976 grindhouse splatter film involving a freaky guy names Sardu and his malevolent dwarf assistant, Ralphus. Together, they run a Grand Guignol style theater, where beautiful women are tortured and killed on stage… Of course, the audience doesn’t realize that the horrors happening in front of them are the real deal – The performances are Sardu’s idea of “Art”, Lthough he and Ralphus also are running a slavery operation, shipping female sex slaves all over the world.

Things get messy when the two supercreeps kidnap theater critic Creasy Silo, after he angers Sardu with a bad review, and ballerina Natasha DeNatalie, because he thinks she will give his torture show some form of legitimacy if forced to participate.

Most of the film shows Sardu and Ralphus torturing and killing naked women in between public performances… They keep a cage full of them in the theater’s basement. That cage of seemingly feral women plays into the movies ending, but I’ll leave it at that.

So, sounds like a gem huh? Something for the whole family to enjoy?

The thing about this film is that yes, there’s an awful lot of awful stuff happening to naked screaming women throughout the whole film, and it’s one of those movies that you can’t make excuses for – A lot of people will understandably hate it, and think that the only people who could enjoy Bloodsucking Freaks are horrible misogynistic bastards… It’s one of those films that you really can’t defend.

On the other hand, all of the violence is so over the top, and the tone of the film is so campy, that it’s pretty impossible to take any of it seriously. The closest things in tone that I can think to compare it to are some of John Waters early films – Bloodsucking Freaks could easily be cut from the same mold as Desperate Living, if it was somehow melded with a Hershel Gordon Lewis gore film. Bloodsucking freaks also has a sick but consistently funny sense of humor running throughout, in a weird way it’s a pretty fun movie. The same kind of material has been covered in other films, and either never lives up to the hype, or is impossible to enjoy, because the brutality is presented differently.

It’s also important to note that this film was probably originally shown in seedy theaters on 42nd Street, and is really low budget – it’s one of those gore films where the blood looks like tempura paint, and obvious mannequin parts are used in place of severed limbs… It’s difficult to take the atrocities in this film seriously, and the dark humor is deep in this one – Sardu and Ralphus are one of the more entertaining evil duos I can remember seeing in a horror film.

Basically, if you enjoy campy, over the top horror/exploitation movies from the mid 1970s, and aren’t uber sensitive to obvious fake brutality mostly directed at naked women, than “Bloodsucking Freaks” can be a lot of fun. If you’re easily offended, you’ll likely hate this film. It’s one of those movies that a person will either think is funny, or will think is reprehensible trash. I happen to think it’s a lot of both, and a great example of grindhouse cinema.

If I gave out star ratings, which I don’t, I’d give this film 7 out of 10 torture racks.

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