If ever there was a film that would be at the top of a cult and/or exploitation genre, or especially a Turkey Day festival, it would have to be the 1972 film Blood Freak. I mean, where else could you find a movie about a Turkey-Headed, blood-drinking, religious-backed horror film, than in this must-be-seen-to-believed film. Unfortunately, Steve Hawkes (real name Steve Sipek), co-writer, co-director, co-producer, and star of this film has passed away.
He starred in a couple of Spanish made Tarzan films back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the last of which he was severely burned on the set. After his film career ended in the mid-’70s, he would later start an animal refuge. In July of 2004, he was in the news when one of his Bengal tigers was shot and killed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after it had escaped. He was seen on the news openly weeping, blaming the officers for “murdering” his pet.
While he never had a huge career in film, it is because of Blood Freak that most fans of the cult, exploitation, and horror genre will remember him for. And because of this film, he WILL always be remembered. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.
Like any passage of time, there are bound to be good memories and bad ones. I would like to think that focusing on the good is the best thing to do, or for the bad ones, try and learn from it and take something positive from it. For example, all the great talent we lost in the last year, be thankful that we still can revisit them any time want by just popping in that DVD or Blu-ray.
After years of trying to get a screening of Mariano Baino’s Dark Waters in Chicago, it finally happened when it was part of the Music Box of Horrors. It had a good reception and writer/director Baino was there to experience the film’s very first screening in the Midwest! Thanks again to Will Morris getting it included in the lineup and Ryan at the Music Box for making it happen. And of course to Mariano and the wonderful Coralina for coming out, making this event even more special. It really was a highlight of my year.
While wandering through the dealer room on Saturday before the show opened, I came upon an art print that blew me away. It was a collage of all the different creatures/monsters that were created by low budget monster maker Paul Blaisdell, which even included a couple of images of Blaisdell himself. If you’re not familiar with highly underrated talent then you have some homework to do! He created a bunch of different creatures for the low budget AIP features back in the ’50s, with very little time and money. But he always came up with some interesting monsters and aliens, like we’ve never seen before. He worked on titles like It Conquered the World, Invasion of the Saucer Men, The She-Creature, and a few more. So to see him and his work highlighted in this beautiful piece of art made my heart swell. I can now proudly say that it is now framed and hanging in my office. The artist is Scott Jackson and has been doing this kind of work for quite some time. He had some other great prints for sale, including a stunning one from The Picture of Dorian Gray, with him standing in front of is decayed portrait. Definitely will be picking that one up from him in the future. You can check out his work at his site HERE.
This year’s Monster Bash, held once again in Mars, PA, was their 20th Anniversary show. I can’t express how sad I am that I had only started coming to this show a few years ago. For years, I put some serious thought into setting up as a vendor there, but I always talked myself out of it because of the distance being too far and if it would really be worth it. Now, with this show becoming one of my favorite stops on our Kryptic World Tour, I realize just how I wrong I was.
This time out, I would be making the 500 mile journey to the show on my own, since my wife Dawn is taking care of her father. It sucks having to do the show alone, but there are certain things in life that are way more important, and family is one of them. It’s only a couple of hours past where we go for Wasteland, so it should be that bad. Though, looking at the weather in the area for that Friday, it was calling for rain…all…day…long! I’ve never had to unload for a show in the rain and was not looking forward to it. I decided to leave after work on Thursday, drive to Cleveland area and then stop for a few hours of sleep, then drive the last couple of hours the next morning to be there by 8am for set up.
For our third year of doing our newer T-Day event in May, I decided to do something a little different. Since there have been quite a few movies screened over the last fourteen years, I know there were more than a few that some of the other participates had missed. So we decided to do a Best Of this time out. I sent out the list of all the movies that had been screen previously, and had everyone pick three titles they’d like to see in the lineup. There were six films that got more than one vote, so we went with those. I know we usually try to get through seven titles, but this year was a little different and a little more relaxed.
For this marathon, I was not going to have to make this journey alone. I found a sucker…I mean, a fellow movie fan that had the guts to put his love of bad movies to the test. Dr. AC (aka Aaron Christensen) joined me that faithful day to for another festival of B-movies and other such wonders. Though, he must have been pretty trusting of me since we’d only met a few months earlier. Little did he know of the horrors that I was going to put him through….(cue devilish laugh here) heheheh.
Blood Freak (1972) – Yes, we did watch this film last year. And since this was AC’s first Turkey Day experience, I didn’t want to give him a full frontal assault right away. But I felt that since he had never witnessed Blood Freak before, that we’d have to make that the first film. Sort of breaking him in. Or breaking him down. Not sure which. And even I had watched it last year, watching this movie with a new viewer is almost as fun as watching the film itself for the first time. The look on their faces is always a riot. When the turkey monster first makes its appearance, and they look over at you with this “Are you fucking kidding me?” look….priceless.
For our 2nd Turkey Day Marathon, I was still on my own. But I ventured on, determined that this punishment could only make me stronger. I had our films lined up for the day and were ready to take on whatever horrors await. So I strapped myself in and started the marathon!
Blood Freak (1972) – I wanted to start the marathon off with the ultimate of Turkey Day movies, and this was definitely it. This film was actually commissioned by a religious group to show the dangers of drug use and wanton sex. Steve Hawkes stars in the film that he also co-wrote and co-directed with Brad F. Grinter. Hawkes plays Herschell, an out-of-work vet looking for a job and a place to crash. He stops by the road to help a girl with car trouble. For his help, he is invited back to her home. Her sister just happens to be having a swinging drug party, but that doesn’t put her off as she sits and reads gospel from the Bible. Herschell doesn’t want to partake since he’s trying to impress this girl. But it gets even stranger. Herschell gets a job at a turkey farm and volunteers for a little experiment. He has to eat a turkey that has some laced with a experimental drug to see if it has any side effects. Well, after eating the entire turkey, he turns into a turkey-headed monster that craves blood. The guy basically has a turkey head mask on, with big bulging eyes.It has to be seen to be believed. And even then, it’s hard to believe that someone gave the thumbs up once the mask was put on.