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  Blood Freak Talking Turkey
Year: 1972
Director: Brad F. Grinter, Steve Hawkes
Stars: Steve Hawkes, Dana Cullivan, Heather Hughes, Bob Currier, Anne Shearin, Linda Past, Debbie Smith, Sandy Kneelen, Domink Grutta, Randy Grinter, Larry Wright, Dolores Currier, Jane Tarber, Lee Morris, Sam Taker, Francis Sipek, Brad F. Grinter
Genre: Horror, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: Vietnam War veteran Herschell (Steve Hawkes) is riding his motorbike along a Florida highway when he notices a woman stalled by the roadside thanks to a flat tire. He steps in to assist and she invites him back to her place, introducing herself as Angel (Heather Hughes). They have something in common in that they are both devout Christians, so when they get to her home and find her sister Ann (Dana Cullivan) holding a pot party there, they are both less than impressed, refusing to partake of the drugs or the free love on offer. But Herschell might not be able to resist temptation for long...

Beginning to all intents and purposes as a finger-wagging awful warning about what could happen should your morals slip, with a name like Blood Freak you could be wondering where that element was introduced. In truth, you'd have a lengthy wait in a movie that held that unusual position between the incredibly boring and the absolutely ludicrous, the latter the reason it was held in such bemused esteem by cult movie fans. A labour of love for directors Steve Hawkes and Brad F. Grinter, it was frankly cheap, nasty and shoddy, but its grottiness contributed to an atmosphere that belied its noble intentions as a lesson in Christian values.

If it's recalled for anything, this is recalled for the plot development that sees its leading man turned into a monstrous, constantly gobbling turkey, which was eccentric enough to prompt a fair few to seek it out. Whether they would be satisfied or not - this does play out pretty much exactly as you've heard - was up to their threshhold for amateurish tedium, although the variation and apparent conflict in the need to produce a religious message and their other need to offer up an exploitation-style horror flick did create an interesting tension. Hawkes had previously enjoyed a starring role in a couple of cheap, unofficial Tarzan movies, but Blood Freak appeared to be speaking to him more personally.

What other explanation could there be for its reverence for the word of God and the highly individual manner in which Herschell's personal nightmare develops? You can only imagine this was the work Hawkes and Grinter wanted to make, although they seemingly had a thing about turkeys which was difficult to fathom: were they on the birds' side or did they enthusiastically tuck into a dinner of the animal whenever they could? There were scenes shot at an actual turkey farm, complete with lots of gobbling noises on the soundtrack, where Herschell takes a job as a guinea pig, eating an experimental turkey without even anything to wash it down (though it's not clear what results the farm scientists wanted) which combined with the drugs Ann has instantly addicted him to give him a terrible case of indigestion.

So terrible that he grows a papier maché turkey head and goes on a blood-crazed rampage (do turkeys drink blood?), kidnapping people and hanging them upside down to drain their precious bodily fluids for his own satisfaction. Oh, and he also cuts off a man's leg, a startling sequence achieved with an amputee actor, though again the purpose other than "this will look cool" is hard to make out. All the way through this Grinter interrupts as if he were Rod Serling to narrate to camera rambling, barely coherent monologues (obviously from cue cards) about how this relates to conducting yourself in the manner the Almighty would prefer, telling us about drugs as all the while he unironically chainsmokes cigarettes which result in a coughing fit at the end which they left in the movie (!). The question of how seriously this was intended lingers, though they don't look self-aware enough to be implementing much savvy, leaving Blood Freak an endurance test, but a damned weird, at times hilarious, one. Music by Gil Ward.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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