In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Horror Movie Guide: Bloodsuckers

The next title in the Guide was 1971's Bloodsuckers aka Incense For The Damned. This was a title that I had no knowledge of - not even the coverbox rang any bells - but it did have some prestige talent involved with the likes of Peter Cushing and Patrick Macnee so I was cautiously optimistic?

To avoid scandal, colleagues of an Oxford student Richard (Pat Mower) travel to Greece where he has apparently fallen in with a weird hippie cult.

Unfortunately, Bloodsuckers was a bit of a slog and definitely reeked of something that had issues behind the scenes. Imdb mentions money problems and re-shoots and that tracks. When your first act consists largely of voiceover narration - basically just explaining what happens in the following scene I might add - it sadly shows how much confidence the filmmakers have in their product. I guess it makes sense that director Robert Hartford-Davis wanted his name taken off the project.

Sadly, that prestige I mentioned hardly matters, as Cushing was likely on set for no more than two days. MacNee has decidedly more to do, going full John Steed bad-ass for a bit before getting knocked off a cliff by some ridiculously fake looking boulders. What were left with is this weird pent-rangle between Richard, his friend Tony (Alex Davion), his pupil (lover?) Bob (Johnny Sekka), his betrothed Penelope (Madeleine Hinde) and his vampire dominatrix Chriseis (Imogen Hassall). I know, it's a lot to take in, but trust me; it sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is.

This is not what it looks like, I assure you...

Apart from the lazy narration, it didn't start out all that bad. While we see our heroes travel to the beautiful locale of Greece, Richard & Chriseis drop some acid and a six-minute psychedelic orgy ensued. As Kevin Nealon used to say, “I was interested.... interested... VERY interested...”

I was beginning to think that Bloodsuckers might be a soft porn that they tricked Cushing into appearing in, but then it was over and it became clear this was likely added after when the filmmakers realized most of their movie was dull as dirt. This would have been around the time of the hysteria surrounding hippie culture so I can see why those scenes got played up, as well.

Also, for a movie called Bloodsuckers - though admittedly that was one of many titles - it has a noticeable lack of vampirism. I appreciated the angle of sado-masochism and its relation to male impotence explained in a scene with a welcome appearance by Edward Woodward, but I also would have liked a little more Rollin if you know what I mean. Hassall was a unique beauty (who sadly died young) and I would've liked to seen her do more in this than just die from a 10-foot fall off some steps. I COULD'VE SURVIVED THAT!

Imogen Hassall as Chrisies in Bloodsuckers

Then to my disdain, after this movie should be done, it goes on for another TWENTY MINUTES. Oh well, at least its final moments are more like the vampire story it is purported to be. The Guide seemed to hold it in higher regard. Perhaps they were familiar with the source material - a old tome called Doctors Wear Scarlet.

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