Forget Charlie Brown — one movie ought to be your family's Thanksgiving tradition. We're referring, of course, to Blood Freak, the 1972 horror movie about smoking too much weed and waking up with a turkey head.
Brad F. Grinter and Steve Hawkes' craptacular masterpiece offers an ultra-low-budget cautionary tale about the evils of weed and turkeys, with an admirable dedication to non-sync sound and some of the worst acting (and goofy gore) this side of the Herschell Gordon Lewis oeuvre.
Clearly, this feather-flying saga was a labor of love, since the co-directors also co-wrote, co-produced, and co-star. Grinter portrays the above-it-all, silk-shirted narrator who smokes on-camera and appears to be reading his lines from the table in front of him; the film screeches to a halt on occasion so he can comment on the proceedings and offer vague proclamations about "change" and "catalysts," and say things like, "Who are we to judge?", while clearly inviting us to judge like Judy.
Hawkes plays Herschell (could that be an homage to fellow Floridian Lewis, who was at the height of his own exploitation career at the time?), an Elvis-haired man of few words who survived some serious shit in Vietnam and now spends his days drifting up and down the turnpike. Chance leads him to the subtly-named Angel (Heather Hughes), a comely Bible-thumper whose sexpot sister, Ann (Dana Cullivan), takes an immediate shine to the biker.
But Ann — the sister who puts out, and therefore the one our hunky hero chooses — smokes pot, you guys! The devil's weed!
Herschell struggles with his conscience for about five minutes (really, all it takes is for Ann to whine, "How can such a big hunk of a man be such a damn coward?") before he's smoking weed and guffawing like your freshman-year stoner roommate during a Beavis and Butt-Head marathon. Without much attention to science or plot logic, Herschell begins fiending for joints in a manner that suggests Hawkes and Grinter may have confused "mary jane" with "horse."
And this is without even getting into Herschell's new gig at the world's most ominous poultry farm, which is run by one of Angel's square-ass Christian buddies but also supports a lab full of shifty scientists working on, uh, bird-meat stuff. Word to the wise: Proceed cautiously anytime anyone casually slips "If you want to make a little extra money, you can help us with our experiments!" into the conversation on your first day at work. (Then, say NO.)
From there, Blood Freak devolves into must-be-seen-to-be-believed territory, but it contains an extended turkey-eating binge (devoid of utensils, and scored with a jaunty tune); a monster mutation that looks suspiciously to be made out of papier mache; and sound design that enfolds highly disturbing clucking sounds, a shriek that repeats so many times it becomes the only actually frightening thing in the film, and a single "gotcha" musical flourish deployed with a heavy hand. Our hero wakes up with a turkey head, and a craving for the blood of other marijuana addicts.
At one point, he visits his girlfriend, and writes a note explaining that he woke up with a turkey head after bingeing on weed and special turkey, and she delivers a monologue that goes:
Herschell, I just can't believe you're like this! Do you think... the effects of it will ever wear off? What if it doesn't? Gosh, Herschell, you sure are ugly. [Herschell cries in weird turkey voice] Honey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean... Herschell, you know, I've got a guilty feeling that I caused all of this. I'll go with you. You know I love you. I thought I was dreaming this whole thing, Herschell. I guess the pretty girl should stick with the monster she created. But... but... what would it be like if you stayed like this? If we got married, what kind of life would we have together, if you stayed that? What would the children think of their father, looking like that? My god, what would the children look like? What would they think? Would they look like their father? Herschell, what are you doing? [Weird turkey sounds]. Herschell? Oh. Herschell, oh my God.
This is followed by a long scene where a preacher talks about the importance of God and not giving in to temptation.
Forget the Thanksgiving parade — this movie is what Thanksgiving traditions should be built upon. Gobble it up!