Presented by Friday Night Frights!
Even in the depraved pantheon of midnight movies, few earn the sort of notoriety of Joel M. Reed’s 1976 splatterpiece Bloodsucking Freaks. Borrowing a page from Herschell Gordon Lewis, particularly his Wizard of Gore, Reed’s film concerns the Grand Guignol theater of Master Sardu (Seamus O’Brien, tragically and poetically stabbed to death a few years later), a sadomasochist master of ceremonies who, along with his little person helper (Luis De Jesus), stages scenes of torture and death to audiences under the pretense of it being faked theater. Blood flows and boobs bounce with joyous abandon, the sexually charged torture vignettes performed with a clear sense of tongue-in-cheek camp, O’Brien vamping like Anton Lavey reimagined as a villain from the 60s Batman TV show. Tasteless in the best possible 70s Times Square seedy sort of way, the film clearly prefigures the torture porn craze of the aughts but does so with much needed irony and sleazy pizazz. It even takes some fun pot shots at snooty critics who couldn’t find the joy in a screaming naked woman splattered in obviously fake blood being menaced by a dwarf.
Dir. Joel M. Reed, 1976,