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I Drink Your Blood

a/k/a Phobia

     "Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid-head. Drink from his cup ... Pledge yourselves ... And together, we’ll all freak out."

-- Horace Bones: Spokesman for Hippies for Satan    




Gonzoid Cinema




Dr. Frothy's Meat Pies: It's the secret sauce that makes 'em taste  so good!

"Yummy, yummy, yummy I got rabies in my tummy..."


Watch it!



Sights &
I Drink
Your Blood

All Kinds
of Yuck:
Films of
Jerry Gross.

Vice Girls Ltd.

Teenagers for Sale

She Died with Her Boots On

I Drink Your Blood

Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song

Young Dracula

The Black Godfather


If you were in the vicinity of the intersection of Blaine and Division streets in the slightly misnomer'd town of Grand Island, Nebraska, last Monday, that rhythmic thumping you heard was the sound of my head banging on my a desk after seeing the line-up for B-Fest '05. For there, nestled in between Peter Cushing's mutant silicates gone amok Island of Terror and Irwin Allen's attack of the killer bees anti-classic, The Swarm, sat The Apple; the cause of my multiplying multiple brain bruises.

What's The Apple, you say? Well, The Apple is Cannon Films tandem of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus's glam-rock craptacular/biblical allegory musical about man's fall in the Garden of Eden. About as subtle with its metaphor as a punch to the face, the film starts out bad enough, but when "God" shows up in his flying, solid gold Cadillac, then it just gets weird. If you've seen it, like I have, and are about to drive over 700 miles to see it again, you'd probably be banging your head on something hard, too.

And, unfortunately, this week's film, David Durston's I Drink Your Blood, isn't going to help my headache any at all. *sigh*

Let's get to it...

As the Sons and Daughters of Satan prepare for their evening ritual of general debauchery, they first drop some acid and then sacrifice a chicken to the great Cloven One -- because, according to their head guru, Horace Bones (Bhaskar), Satan was an acid-head, who apparently didn't like chickens all that much. While this wanton ceremony continues, when they catch a local girl spying on them, the gang of hooligans chase her down, catch her, and eyeball her lecherously before we fade to black ... The next morning, as the girl, Sylvia Banner (Arlene Farber), stumbles back into town, judging by her composure and painful gait, the bad guys did a little more than play tag in the dark. Yikes ... And since there's a new hydro-electric dam being constructed nearby, the town in question is nearly deserted because, when the project is done, the entire valley will be under about 30-feet of water by the end of the week. Most of the villagers have already relocated, leaving only Mildred (Elizabeth Brooks), of Mildred's Bakery, and old Doc Banner (Richard Bowler), the local vet, and his two grandkids, Sylvia, who we've met, and Pete (Riley Mills). Mildred hasn't left yet because she provides all the food for the construction workers at the dam and is romantically involved with the foreman, Roger Davis (Jack Damon). (Why the Banner's haven't left yet, who the hell knows.) When she opens for the day and finds Sylvia faltering around and takes her home, the girl refuses to say what happened. 

Meanwhile, Horace and his troupe, about eight of them all together, have moved into this near ghostown and takeover the abandoned hotel despite young Pete's warnings about all the rats. Undaunted, the group storms through the building, banging into every nook and cranny, driving the rats out into the open, where they catch and kill them; and, eventually, throw them over a spit and eat them. (Hey, geniuses; it might help if you skinned them first!) Soon tiring of rat-meat, the group starts raiding Mildred's bakery for some of her hearty meat pies. And as this group continues to make a general nuisance of itself, realizing it must have been these hoodlums who attacked his granddaughter, Doc Banner, with shotgun in hand, heads over to the hotel to confront them. Inside, Horace and Rollo (George Patterson) have turned on Shelley (Alex Mann), one of their own, whom they're torturing when Banner arrives. Quickly, the over-matched old man is disarmed, and while Silke (Iris Brooks) feeds him some LSD, the pregnant Molly (Rhonda Fultz), the mute Carrie (Lynn Lowry), the enigmatic Sue-Lin (Jadine Wong), the reluctant Andy (Tyde Kierney), and the bleeding Shelley, watch and laugh as the tormenting continues...

Jerry Gross was a frustrated film director, who finally found success as a producer and distributor of Grindhouse and drive-in fodder for his own company, Cinemation Industries [Shanty Tramp, The Cheerleaders and imports like Mondo Cane]. Turning to director David Durston, Gross asked if he could deliver a horror film to top Night of the Living Dead. No small task, but the only limitations Gross had for Durston was he didn't want it to be a monster movie; no zombies, vampires or werewolves. Apparently, the producer wanted it to be a modern, realistic shocker. Durston, who up until then was probably most famous for the similarly grounded science-fiction TV show, Tales of Tomorrow, felt he was up to the task.

Having recently seen footage from the Middle East of several children who had contracted hydro-phobia/rabies, Durston felt it would make a great basis for a horror film. His original premise was to have a small, isolated town face a violent rabies outbreak. However, right around the same time, Charles Manson and the Spahn Ranch irregulars were also making bloody headlines, so Durston added a group of hippie Satanists into the mix. (I assume he made them Satanists to separate them from the good hippies, although I'm not convinced there are such things.) He delivered a script, under the working title Phobia, which was subsequently approved, and shooting commenced at an abandoned sanitarium clinic -- kind of like the Kellogg Clinic from The Road to Wellville, and the dilapidated state of the buildings basically allowed the production a free hand to run amok and do as much damage as they pleased.

When filming was finished, Durston turned the film over to Gross, who didn't like the film's black comedy elements, and so, cut the film without Durston's consent. This tinkering continued when one of the producer's assistants, Barney Cohen, inadvertently gave it a new title, I Drink Your Blood, to match its double-feature, I Eat Your Skin: Two Great Blood Horrors to Rip Out Your Guts! (Of course if it were released today it would read: 2 Great Blood Horrors 2 Rip Out Your Guts.) Even after all of that, Gross still wasn't satisfied, and a few more changes were in store before the film hit the theaters, but that'll have to wait for a bit as we know rejoin our review when those dastardly nogoodniks finally let the old man go.

Pete, who saw the whole thing, gathers his dosed-up elder and manages to get him all the way home before the victim finally has his freak-out. Not one to let his family be taken advantage of by Satanic Hippies twice in one day, Pete takes up the shotgun and heads back to the hotel to go all John Wayne on their hippy asses. But on the way, he is confronted by a rabid dog; and when it attacks, he manages to kill it with the shotgun. Shaken, and out of ammo, he heads back home. Having overheard the shots, Sylvia scolds her brother for such foolish behavior, and then warns him to stay away from the carcass or risk the danger of a rabies infection and the horrors of [cue dramatic sting] HYDRO-PHOBIA! With that, Pete then hits upon a plan ... Stealing some of his grandfather's equipment, he first fills a syringe full of the dogs tainted blood -- or slobber, or whatever -- and then secretly injects it into the pies Mildred baked for the commune. And soon enough, they're all chowing down on them -- except for Andy, who is feeling guilty and sneaks off to apologize to Sylvia.

"Sorry about that whole gang-rape thing. But do you think there's a chance we could still go steady?"

Those who did eat the infected pies are soon overcome with the dreaded HYDRO-PHOBIA! and rapidly go stark-raving bonkers. Everybody starts drooling, badly, and most of them begin to express themselves homicidally and other anti-social tendencies. The first to go is Shelley, whose dismembered leg Rollo takes up and uses it like a club to chase Silke out of the house, swinging the limb over his head like some demented caveman! As the infection quickly spreads, the small town is soon overrun with rabid, drooling, and spluttering hippies. 

Watching all of this from her store, a worried Sylvia, not realizing the true scope of the danger, calls Roger, who sends some of his crew over to check on her and roust those bums out of town. But while heading to the rescue, the posse of roughnecks stumble upon Silke, who is hot to trot (-- in a biblical sense). And as most of the crew go with her for a roll in the bushes (-- in a biblical sense), two of the men check out the hotel before taking their turn (-- in a biblical sense). Once inside, they're ambushed and killed by Bones (-- in a not so biblical sense). The others, meanwhile, take Silke back to the construction site, where she basically -- well, she takes all takers (-- in an extremely biblical sense). Wow. Then, the long night gets even longer as all the workers she has sex with contract the disease, too, leaving only Roger, Mildred, Andy, Sylvia and Pete as the only ones not infected -- and Doc Banner, but he's currently stuck to the barn door with a pitchfork through his neck!

As the infected drooligans ransack and rampage through town, you'd almost think the director was trying to draw a correlation between these scenes and the earlier scenes of the rat hunt, but it's not quite deliberate enough. Sheesh. We GET it. Stop punching me in the face already! Moving on, as we spin out of control toward the climax, Roger inexplicably abandons his girlfriend to go for help; Sue-Lin immolates herself to be topical; Bones and Rollo, who at some point abandoned the dismembered leg for an axe, battle to the death to see who can out-slobber the other; Carrie attacks a woman with an electric carving knife; then Molly takes drastic measures before she fully succumbs to the rabies by stabbing herself through her belly -- and I remind everyone she was critically pregnant; and Andy, Sylvia and Pete try to hole up with Mildred in her bakery -- only the owner's too scared and won't let them in!

Under siege from all sides, Mildred finally snaps out of it and lets the others safely in -- but it's too late for Andy, whose head gets lopped off, which is then carried around by the mindless attackers for its intrinsic shock value and will now be thusly waved in front of the screen as often as possible. (It was either that or a real dead goat. Booga. Booga. Boo--Gah!) As the mob breaks into the store, the last survivors make a run for Mildred's station wagon. They make it, despite Mildred being bit (-- more on this development in a second), and get the car started, but the rabid mob flips it over before they can get it in gear. 

Luckily for them, Roger returns with the cavalry in the form of the State Police, who immediately open fire on the mob. When the shooting finally stops and the carnage settles, all the infected are blown to pieces and Pete, Sylvia and Mildred are rescued from the wrecked auto. And as the film ends with the two kids (-- but not Mildred?) being loaded into an ambulance, the paramedic (Director Durston) confers with Roger and officially puts the film to bed, saying: 

"Well, what can you say? At least the poor bastards have been put out of their misery. [Because] death by HYDRO-PHOBIA! is agony."

The End

So, is watching I Drink Your Blood sheer, sheer agony? No. Not really. Is it as great as some folks would have you believe? Again, not really. But it's closer to the later than the former.

When it was originally released, I Drink Your Blood was slapped with an X-rating for its violent content by the fledgling MPAA. And since the prints were already made and distributed to theaters, and since most of them would refuse to show any film with an X-Rating, a drastic decision was made: Gross gave the theater operators the OK to cut the film, themselves, down to what they felt would equal an R-Rating or less; whatever it took to get it on the screens and some butts in the seats and some cash into the box-office. And it was these butchered prints that have been in circulation ever since. So the big question is: Has anyone ever seen this film completely unmolested?

Most of the early copies that circulated around on the home video market were culled from these severely hacked-up and censored prints, causing much frustration and irritation amongst the horrorphiles. Finally, thanks to Fangoria magazine and Grindhouse Cinema, working in conjunction with Durston, the film has been fully restored on DVD. And I encourage everyone who've only seen the chopped-up version to give the film another look. I think there's a modest, if unrefined, horror flick that's lurking just underneath the drecky surface here; though I think it would have been better if Durston had left the hippy Satanists out and concentrated solely on the small town epidemic angle. And it's too bad Durston never tried his hand at horror again. With a little more refinement and fine-tuning, we would probably be mentioning him in the same breath as the other, gritty-n-bleak-n-unrelenting '70s horrormeisters Hooper, Craven and Romero. 


Durston's stable of actors are raw but don't lack for enthusiasm, and the special-effects hold up in the gore department. Well, the foaming and slobbering break down a bit when it slops all over. I've had some experience with rabid animals -- a dog and a 'possum, and I can honestly say they did froth quite a bit, just not that much. Speaking of animals, one of the biggest complaints about the film are the scenes of animal cruelty and torture depicted on screen. I have no patience for that kind of crap, either, but Durston swears they ate the chicken killed for the opening ceremony, and the rats [shipped in from a lab] and the goat were already dead. In fact, Durston says, all the live rats used in the hotel purge were under the, well, rabid protection of their trainer; and actually, most of them went on to appear in both Ben and Willard. (I thought that big, chubby rat looked kinda familiar.)

It's my understanding the film's original ending had Roger checking in on Mildred after the clean-up, and then that version ends with the infected Mildred attacking Roger, ending in a freeze frame. E'yup. Another classic cheesedick ending. Turns out Gross didn't like cheesedick endings either and chopped it off. One can see this original ending as a bonus feature on the new DVD, and judging by it and the other deleted scenes, especially a bit where Pete tries to confess his culpability to two State Troopers, I think we owe Gross some thanks for all the tinkering and cutting he did over Durston's strident protests.

I swear, despite all the tinkering, cutting, and slobbering, I Drink Your Blood is [----- this close -----] to being an all-time gonzoidal classic. But something that I can't quantify in my own head, let alone explain to y'all, prevents it from accomplishing this goal. It's not for lack of talent or budget, cast, crew or script. And the harder I think about it, the more elusive the answer as to why that is is -- and the more I think about the film, the easier it gets to glaze over and ignore its shortcomings.


Man, my head hurts.

I Drink Your Blood (1970) Jerry Gross Productions :: Cinemation Industries / P: Jerry Gross / D: David E. Durston / W: David E. Durston / C: Jacques Demarecaux / E: Lyman Hallowell / M: Clay Pitts / S: Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, Jadin Wong, Rhonda Fultz, John Damon, Elizabeth Marner-Brooks, Riley Mills

Originally Posted: 01/20/05 :: Rehashed: 12/15/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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