Imagine if, before beginning shooting on Night of the Living Dead, George Romero and his cast and crew had tied on a good drunk and decided “Fuck the zombies! Who’s gonna give a rat’s ass about zombies in a few years? Let’s make the bad guys stoners with rabies!” Continue to imagine that they then proceeded to drink some more, perhaps even dropped a little acid, shot the whole movie in a stumbling, half-conscious haze, and finally came back and tried to edit it together the next morning, hung over as all hell….
…nah, that probably would have still been a better movie than I Drink Your Blood…but it woulda been close.
Now don’t get me wrong; I love this movie. It’s absolutely terrible…but it’s awesome because it’s so terrible. Let’s start with the plot: A mixed-bag of hippies travel around in an old, graffiti-strewn van, worshipping the devil and getting high. They wander into a little town, largely deserted because of a local dam project, and apparently rape one of the two remaining women there, who happens to be the granddaughter of the town veterinarian. The old man finds out, confronts them, and gets slipped a few hits of LSD for his trouble. His little grandson gets pretty upset about this, and uses the blood of a dead dog and the local baker’s meat pies to get back at the nasty bunch. Soon, rabies infects both the hippies and the dam construction crew, and everything basically goes to hell in a bucket.
That’s the whole film in a nutshell. I do my very best to not use any spoilers, but really, you can read that on the back of the DVD case. That said, it’s what happens around the plot that makes this film fun. Blood, boobs and bad-ness; early ’70s exploitation gold. This is the kind of movie that inspired Roth, Tarantino, Zombie and Rodriguez.
The acting ranges from either bad or so bad it’s good; the lead baddie is so scenery-chewing over-the-top he’s hilarious; imagine a low-rent Ricardo Montalban Khan wannabe with a Satan complex instead of a God complex, all bug-eyed and baritone. Most of his crew is just as bad, as are the ‘good’ guys; Mr. Davis, the head of the dam building crew, is about as flat as flat could be; poor Mildred, running the bakery, looks and sounds like she’s reading every line off of some offscreen card (although her delivery of “There’s no one left in Valley Hills because of your damned dam!” should be hailed as art). Hell, the only actors really worth a damn are the little boy and grandpa (and they’re pretty bad)…but the unintentional humor of it all makes it worth it, and the biggest bonus is the appearance of a very young Lynn Lowry. The special effects are cheap, but oddly effective; lots of the red stuff and body parts to be had. Throw in a soundtrack culled from outtakes of Scooby Doo, and you have a recipe for greatness!
I have to point out a few of the contributions the film makes to our conversations as horror fans:
Where else are you gonna see totally bare-assed hippie devil-worshipers chasing someone through the woods at night?
Would you believe there’s an old-school electric carving knife that will effortlessly slice through a wrist like a fucking lightsaber? Where the hell are those around Thanksgiving?
An 11-year-old kid does a half-assed postmortem on a dog (in the dark, no less!), extracting blood to infect the bad ol’ hippie group with rabies (I think this kid grew up, moved to England, and came up with the Rage Virus; so sorry, Cillian Murphy!)!
You may or may not have known that the original name for rabies was “hydrophobia”, describing a victim’s revulsion to liquids in later stages of the illness because of an inability to swallow; but did you know that if your town is overrun by rabid apeshit hippies and construction workers, all you need is a puddle to splash them with and they turn tail and piss all over themselves?
Let’s not forget the girl who was brutally beaten and gang-raped, but a day or so later is completely fine with it, even going as far as to kindle a romance with one of the participants, because, y’know, he’s really a swell guy. O_o
In closing, let me stress again that this is in no way a good movie in the traditional sense; however, for just a good, gory, accidentally funny hour-and-a-half, this one’s a keeper. If you’re over 15 and a fan of horror movies at all (and if you’re not, the fact that you’ve read this far is kind of creepy), you know that these exploitation flicks from the early ’70s have a niche all their own.
Good for a laugh.
One note of warning to animal lovers out there: they kill a chicken onscreen here. We also see some dead rats and a goat carcass being dragged around, but we don’t see them actually killed. I don’t condone such acts in film; it was unnecessary and, of course, exploitative. At the time, low-budget cinema was riding the downhill slope of the mondo craze, and the filmmakers were obviously capitalizing on this.
Just putting that out there.