Considering these are the kind of movies that educated me in my formative years, I’m proof positive that horror movies do not give rise to psycho murderers. However, they may spawn bratty gay guys with Peter Pan Syndrome who are more likely to be distracted by a red laser dot moving on the floor than a cat. And therefore…what the frick is my point? Oh yeah. Movies with wieners and boobs! Yay! No, wait. Horror movies that failed to convince me when I was a kid that sex and sin are bad.
BLOOD FREAK (1972)
Blood Freak is the ultimate example of why those trying to shove religious morality down our throats shouldn’t try with horror movies. However, as a timepiece of bad 1970s horror cinema, it’s an American treasure.
A biker (played by one of the directors) helps a young woman with a flat. She is a God freak…yet brings him to her sinful sister’s party filled with sluts and druggies. This shit is hilarious. While attempting to be all moral, the film repeatedly has men telling him how handsome and strong he is. Good sis reads him the Bible, and bad sis gives him drugs and fucks him while he tells her the whole time he wishes she were godly like her sister.
He also gets a job tasting meat at a turkey farm to see if it has side effects. It does.
After lots of horrible 70s music montages of live turkeys and him eating dead turkey, he turns into a fricking turkey head! And get this. The slutty druggy bad sister is the one in love with him who tries to help and care for him without judging him (she even sleeps with turkey head).
But the narrator—yes there’s a narrator, who constantly looks down to read off a script—regularly makes it clear that it’s the biker being tempted into a world of sex and drugs that destroys him, and that awful people just turn to and stop ridiculing God when life hits rock bottom. Don’t look at me. I’m a responsible human who will never try to deny my own faults and mistakes and shift the blame onto everyone and everything else by becoming a Born Again…so I’m allowed to ridicule vindictive spirit in the sky.
Turkey head suddenly starts going around at night killing people doing drugs and having sex in their cars. I cannot believe how many people in small towns go out at night to sit in their cars for drugs and sex. I guess it’s that whole opioid crisis thing. I also can’t believe how many vile sinners there are in the middle of nowhere. Actually, I can, which is why I will never visit a red state.
Anyway, turkey head hangs them upside down and slits their throats so he can drink their blood. But this “slasher” segment happens all at once in just a short section of the film, and it’s done so poorly, with edits that are a perfect example of just how bad indie filmmakers can be. People just show up suddenly on screen in the dark to get grabbed by turkey head before it cuts to them dead. There’s even a hilarious scene in which some guy randomly appears to mourn over a dead body before leaping a fence to fight the turkey head.
And when the women scream, it seriously sounds like turkey’s screaming and it’s fricking annoying as hell. The one great exploitative kill has turkey head buzz sawing off a guy’s leg. That’s some good gore for a low budget religious mess.
The big twist leads to this one spiraling out of moral message control, but I do love the cleverness of the scene in which turkey head gets taken down. But beware—they throw in what appears to be actual footage of a turkey running around with its head cut off. Sick fricking Christian filmmakers.
TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES (1973)
Not quite a horror film—and not about a vampire or werewolves as the poster art and title might suggest—Tenderness of the Wolves is definitely a movie that plays into every gay panic phobia one could think of back in the early 1970s.
It’s also kind of boring.
The protagonist is this gay creeper dude guilty of just about every sleazy crime imaginable, including murder and cannibalism…and virtually pedophilia.
He targets young men between 18 and 20 who are out on the street. And he not only eats them for himself, he also feeds them to his neighbors.
There’s lots of full frontal nudity of boyish looking guys, a couple of feasting scenes, the killer in drag, and a focus on his jealous rage because he’s in love with one of the guys living with him, who is into girls…
And in the end, it’s about him being the tragic gay predator who hopes to find salvation with God! Ugh.
Everything about this is just way too dated for it to have any value as gay cinema these days beyond historical significance.
THE BROOD (1979)
This is the ultimate Cronenberg film for me. Sure it’s somewhat fantastical and bizarre in premise, as are all his movies, but it’s generally an easy plot to follow and delivers unforgettable baddies and brutal deaths.
Oliver Reed is an experimental therapist who makes all his patients call him daddy. Hot.
Anyway, he’s treating Samantha Eggar at his home. Her husband, adorable Art Hindle, becomes convinced Eggar is abusing their daughter during visits, so refuses to bring her anymore.
And that’s when these hideous little children in red hooded coats start going around and bashing in the brains of all the people in Eggar’s life.
There are plenty of disturbing scenes intertwined with a substantial plot as Hindle tries to figure out where these little children are coming from and what they want. And of course it all leads back to Reed’s home, mentally fucked up Eggar…and her birth canal. I can’t believe I went through one of those things once without puking. I will never go on that ride again.
It’s still a great film for fans of WTF scenarios in horror, and I’m shocked it hasn’t been remade.
THE ENTITY (1982)
This, not Beaches, is the first movie that pops into my mind when I think of Barbara Hershey…and a movie for which she deserves high acclaim.
Considering I try to avoid as many paranormal ghost movies as I can these days because I simply don’t find the subgenre effectively scary anymore, it amazes me that this film—based on the claims of an actual woman in the 1970s who believed she was repeatedly raped by a ghost—still makes my stomach turn right from the start.
The attack scenes stand the test of time as being absolutely disturbing and are reason enough to watch this one even today. Not only is the experience incredibly intense for a horror audience, but the creation of scenes depicting the fucked up twisting of passion and intimacy into sexual assault and violence should make anyone understand why rape victims in real life are devastatingly traumatized for the rest of their lives.
The isolating atmosphere creates a constant unsettling sense of dread. Hershey is a single mother living with her three children—an older teen boy and two young girls, one recognizable as the little daughter in The Amityville Horror. Within minutes of the film beginning, the first attack happens, and they just keep coming after that, with every scene being dark and silent as we are filled with anxiety waiting for the incubus to strike and shatter the calm.
Nothing is left to the imagination during the attacks, they even happen in front of the children, and the incubus beats off anyone who tries to intervene, further ruining our nerves. And that damn pulsing style soundtrack they just don’t use in films anymore is still gut churning and seriously needs to come back into vogue.
Adding to the relentless cruelty of the situation is the flippant attitudes of the doctors analyzing her, deconstructing her past with men and sex, and trying to make her fit into psychosexual molds in order to blame the victim, right down to suggesting that she is so lonely that she’s fantasizing about having sex with her ridiculously good looking son.
Not to mention…the damn entity follows her wherever she goes, so griping that she’s an idiot for not just leaving the house is wasted breath.
The cast also includes Jo Polniaczek’s dad as Hershey’s infrequent boyfriend and Ron Silver as a caring doctor whose fault is that he refuses to believe in the paranormal.
If there’s any downside to the film—aside from it running two hours and five minutes—it’s perhaps some cheesy effects that timestamp it, like electrical lightning bolts zapping the son.
And the plot moves into typical overblown 80s territory by the end, in a controlled lab with experts observing, which most definitely sucks out all the perfectly established atmosphere that carried us through the film.