Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 16th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1976
Director: Joel M. Reed
Writer: Joel M. Reed
Cast: Seamus O’Brien, Luis De Jesus, Viju Krem, Niles McMaster, Alan Dellay, Dan Fauci, Helen Thompson, Ellen Faison, Ernie Pysher
BluRay released: April 21st, 2014
Approximate running times: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
BluRay Release: 88 Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £14.00
Bloodsucking Freaks was written and directed by Joel M. Reed whose other notable films include Career Bed and Blood Bath. The cinematographer on Bloodsucking Freaks was Ron Dorfman who’s other notable films as a cinematographer includes, Slave of Pleasure and Babylon Blue. Other titles that Bloodsucking Freaks has gone by include Sardu, Master of the Screaming Virgins and The Incredible Torture Show.
From the moment that Sardu arrives on the screen it is obvious that he is an unscrupulous man who thrives on others pain and suffering. In this opening moment he performs for a unruly crowd that are not impressed with what he is showing them. Wanting to get them on his side he continues to up the ante in his blood and guts magic show. When his first victim dies and the crowd still believes that everything is just a show, he then proceeds to saw off another woman’s hand. And this is just the beginning of how far he and his minions are willing to go to satisfy their blood-lust.
The bulk of the film revolves around Sardu’s kidnapping of a famous ballerina that he wants to star in his next production. Unfortunately for him her football star boyfriend enlists the help of the police who are hell bent on uncovering the secrets which hide within Sardu’s dungeon of terror.
Of course like any investigation this are slow moving and along the way a few more women are dismembered. And each in their own unique way, there is a pair of women who Sardu and Ralphus cut body parts whenever one of them loses to the other in a game of chess. And another moment of gruesome brutality includes a scene where a woman bound to a chair has all of her teeth removed and head shaved, before receiving electro shock therapy. Also let’s not forget that cannibal women locked in a cage.
As you can clearly see there is never shortage of something eye opening occurring onscreen as things move along briskly from one moment of bloodletting to the next. All of the moments of dismember are very effective and most definitely not for the faint of heart.
From a performance stand point this film is clearly carried by Seamus O’Brien in the role of Sardu and Luis De Jesus in the role of Ralphus. They have a tremendous amount of chemistry and enthusiasm for what they are doing. And though not as enigmatic as the two aforementioned performances the rest of the cast far exceed the limitations of their respective roles.
Reportedly Bloodsucking Freaks was originally intended to be viewed as a black comedy. And though the gruesome moments of sadism are the ones that most viewers seem to latch onto, the humor is still there waiting to be discovered if one went into this film with the right mindset. Overall what Bloodsucking Freaks lacks in plot is more than makes up for with its shocking imagery and subversive humor.
Bloodsucking Freaks comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though color saturation is greatly improved for this transfer, there are still some instances of muted colors. Black levels are at best average, details generally look crisp and there are no issues with compression. Also print damage varies in degree throughout. The overall quality of this transfer is a marked improvement upon all previous home video release for this film.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English. Background noise while present throughout it is never too intrusive. Dialog comes through clearly enough to follow and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things tend to be rather limited.
Extras for this release include a brief introduction to the film with Lloyd Kaufman, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 1 second – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a interview with actress Ariana Blue and actor Ernie Pysher (3 minutes 50 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio) and a informative audio commentary with filmmaker Eli Roth. Other non film related extras include a tour of Troma, Aroma Du Troma, Lloyd Kaufman s Autobiography Promotional Video, Radiation March, 2 Troma Public Service Announcements and trailers for other Troma films. Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a booklet with liner notes about the film written by Calum Waddell. Overall Bloodsucking Freaks gets a strong release from 88 Films.