Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)


Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) Directed by Joel M. Reed

This mind-bogglingly nasty torture porno affair possesses a notorious anomaly, the rare potential to reach both the nadir of American exploitation and the zenith of it. The former because it is pulpy vacuous exploitation where its only content is a formless, plotless, interminable menagerie of supremely inhumane, elaborate set pieces of hardcore torture that would make the Holy Inquisition blush. And the latter, because it handles the complicated cynicism and misanthropic irony of 70’s exploitation filmmaking as effortlessly and compellingly as a persuasive politician would with his showy propaganda. Everything is so outrageously wrong in Bloodsucking Freaks that you feel that the mere act of being a viewer of its super-sick ecstatic ode to depravity makes you complicit in its over-the-top, avowed immorality.

Joel M. Reed helms this scandalous flick with no aim other than to engender revulsion and polemic among the moral sentiments of his audience so as to at least land somewhere in the sensationalistic prose of the tabloid press and serve as the inflammatory focus of the conservative colloquy. Thus, Bloodsucking Freaks can seriously be regarded as the most exploitative exploitation film of them all. Even though Bloodsucking Freaks is cold and unabashedly pitiless in its ontology of human corruption, the plot has horny and fiercely oddball characters – an unhinged sadomasochist who calls himself Master Sardu (Seamus O’Brien), a sicko psychopathic midget (Luis De Jesus), a ridiculous, satirical, incredulous theater critic (Alan Dellay), and a stereotypical crooked Italian American detective named Tucci (Dan Fauci). These bizarre characters lead this sort of faux Grand Guignol theater where their performances of the grotesque are actual murders executed by Ralphus the dwarf instructed by his master Sardu.

Seamus O’Brien as Sardu and Luis De Jesus as Ralphus are a tour de force of breathtaking lousy acting, accompanied by the crummy cinematography -horribly, erroneously lit- their degenerate deeds could be mistaken for genuine morbid porn for sick folks. Definitely this sleazy duo is the most enjoyable thing in this movie that strives to be un-enjoyable. Freaky Sardu – who thoroughly relishes using naked women in crawling position as dinner tables to eat scrumptious human flesh stews – is an obscene caricature who indulges in every kinky practice you can think of. There is irony in the simple observation that Bloodsucking Freaks is a caricature of itself, starting with being a searing cinematic provocation that capitalizes on the snuff hoopla that took over the seedy streets of NYC adult entertainment; this film only amplifies and reinforces the myth by mocking the panic instilled in 1970s American culture. But it also has the singular appeal of being a radical assault on the skepticism of critics who dismiss exploitation cinema under the dubious rationale of the ethical or “artistic” argument.

If you have the stomach to devote an hour and a half of your time to contemplate so much depravity without any substance, then Bloodsucking Freaks will be an experience as empty as it is plentiful, I mean for every bit of inept exploitation you get there’s another bit of alluring exploitation. There is diversity of characters and there is diversity of fucked up humor, but nothing is more diversified than its demoralizing torture porn, add to that human trafficking, cannibalism and theatrics of the macabre.

*Here we are again with another movie that I believe defies all film rating criteria, it is ungodly bad, but it is so unique, so different and individual compared to the pack that it could be as good as it is bad, regardless of its overt amateurishness of course. That’s why no rating. 

*Alphonso DeNoble has a cameo here! -you may remember him better as the guy who played the creepy, morbidly obese pedophile in Alice, Sweet Alice.



Matteo Bedon

Written by

Editor and Official Film Critic at

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