Tuesday, August 13, 2019

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

I remember some years ago I recall a one of those amateur movie review videos turning up in my You Tube 'recommended' column, which promised to 'Drop the pipe bomb on horror classic I Drink Your Blood'.  I didn't bother watching it in its entirety, but I got the distinct impression that the rabid would be critic who made it really didn't like this film and seemed to feel aggrieved that it apparently had 'classic' status.  Except that it hasn't.  I don't think that anyone, anywhere would mistake I Drink Your Blood for a genre classic.  It is a crudely and cheaply made shocker originally put out on a double bill with an equally crudely made B-movie called I Eat Your Skin, (which is why that phrase is used over and over in the above trailer).  The film's significance lies in its historical context.  It represented an early attempt to try and imitate the success of Night of the Living Dead by presenting audiences with gory spectacle, a contemporary setting, no name cast and backwoods setting.  Previously, the predominant forms taken by Anglo-American horror films were either Gothic supernatural melodramas with elaborately recreated historical settings, or cheaply made youth orientated shockers featuring teenagers, hot rods, rock music and monsters (usually, but not always, from space).

As the seventies dawned, a new horror paradigm emerged: lots of blood and dismembered limbs.  While the effects used to achieve these were crude, it was still far more graphic than the sort of stuff you'd see in the average Dracula movie.  In effect, it was the dawn of 'body horror'.  The elaborate plots, carefully built up atmosphere and suspense used by earlier horror films to enhance their scares were now abandoned in favour of outright shocks.  The monsters were no longer the product of supernatural forces or stitched together in laboratories by mad scientists, but instead they were now us - ordinary people either raised from the dead as ravenous cannibals by radiation, or, in this case, bikers turned into slavering beasts after eating meat pies infected with rabies.  It really shouldn't be surprising that the monsters and their Gothic trappings were losing their appeal - television news was increasingly bringing the real-life horrors of things like the Vietnam war into people's' living rooms and fictional horror had to outdo these scenes if it was to have any impact.  Like the pictures on the news, it had to appear more 'real', more 'immediate', its horrors unfolding in recognisable settings.  All of which I Drink Your Blood delivers on, although that still doesn't make it any good.



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