Oh Lordy where do I start with this one?
Humbly submitted for my approval by 88 Films, and on Blu-ray no less, Joel M Reed’s cult disgustathon from the nether regions of some demented corner of the Night Gallery that is exploitation horror is a film I had never had the chance to catch up with until now. Of course that’s partly because THE INCREDIBLE TORTURE SHOW (to give it another of its alternate titles) has never been granted a UK certificate until now. In fact it still surprises me that anyone has had the temerity to submit it to the BBFC. But they have. And here it is.
So what’s it all about? At some off-off-off-off-off-Broadway theatre that resembles a church hall decorated by Freddy Krueger on a budget of £1.52, women are tortured on stage by the evil Sardu (the soon to be stabbed to death in real life Seamus O’Brien) and his demented dwarf associate (and future Ewok) Ralphus (Luis de Jesus). Unhappy that top New York critic Creasy Silo (Allan Delay) refuses to review his show, Sardu has Silo kidnapped so he can chain him up, force feed him nan breads through a funnel, and make him sit through what Sardu believes will be the shining jewel in his crown of staged torture entertainment - topless prima ballerina Natasha De Natalie (Viju Krem) pirouetting drunkenly around a badly lit stage while engaging in acts of mayhem. Of course first he has to get hold of Natasha and show her what he’s capable of.
Veering wildly between Garth Marenghi-style lunacy (one method of torture involves suspending said ballerina from the ceiling while Ralphus dances around her clashing cymbals) and Herschell Gordon Lewis-style ‘gornography' (plenty of the torture bits, which even now are in what I can best describe as poor taste) I can honestly say that in all my years of watching stuff that might be described as Not Suitable for Children I really have never seen anything like this. BLOODSUCKING FREAKS is definitely one for connoisseurs of extreme cinema. Everyone else should leave it well, well alone.
88 Films’ Blu-ray presentation treats the movie about as well as it deserves. There are a fair few scratches on the print at the beginning, but these settle down and overall it’s a pretty good transfer with plenty of grain and shimmer that never lets you forget the movie’s grindhouse origins. There’s a whole collection of extras, many of them ported over from a previous US DVD release of the movie. These include a commentary track by Eli Roth, interviews with a few of the cast and crew who are still alive / sane / not in prison, and an introduction to the ‘DVD’ by a very young-looking Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma films, which released the film in the US. There are other Troma related ‘goodies’ on the disc as well, including a couple of ‘public service announcements’ and the ‘Aroma du Troma’ - a reel of clips from other Troma movies that do an excellent job of helping those previously unfamiliar with the company’s work to know whether they would like to pursue these films further or never touch them with the longest barge pole in existence.
BLOODSUCKING FREAKS is being released on Blu-ray uncut for its UK debut. It’s a film that is utterly insane, utterly unique, and without doubt it will stir strong emotions in whoever watches it. Prepare to be offended, shocked, confounded and even made to laugh out loud at the sheer outrageousness of this movie’s conceit. I certainly went through all of those feelings during the running time and I have no idea if I ever want to watch it again. Existing in its own little subgenre of bizarro cinema, think carefully before you pop this one into your player.
88 Films are releasing BLOODSUCKING FREAKS uncut on DVD and Blu-ray on 21st April 2014.
True to this movie's exploitation origins, House of Mortal Cinema would like to admit that we had difficulty finding images from the film to illustrate this article that weren't of a rather unwholesome nature in terms of their content. You'll have to watch the film if that sort of thing interests you. Oh yes indeedy.