Ah...revenge. Tastes good, doesn't it? Although we can't admit to personally having exacted revenge on anyone by feeding them rabies pies or decapitating them with a mighty, wondrous sword, we are still able to enjoy watching other people doing exactly that, via the beautiful medium of moving pictures.
This was nothing other than a crap excuse to watch two movies that really deserve to be seen at Zombie Club: EvilSpeak, in which troubled cadet Clint Howard gets all possessed by evil forces, and then I Drink Your Blood, in which Satanic hippies get all possessed by rabies pies. Yeah, rabies pies. Or should that be rabid pies?
Without further ado, let us drink the blood of Sadus.
This evening's Zombie Club was brought to you by Zomblee, in association with schoolbag awareness and much frothing of the mouth
Plot Clint's computer tells him to kill!
Zomblee Meet Stanley Coopersmith. A supposedly bright orphan cadet at a posh military academy, he is bullied incessantly by his fellow cadets, but revenge is a wish best served bold (whatever that means), and Stanley discovers some very dark secrets inside the walls of the church on the academy grounds. An ancient book - let's call it a book of the dead - provides him with some edifying reading, and soon he is conversing with the Devil Himself on a very 1980's style computer, plotting his diabolical revenge. Also, he looks really like the kind from that old TV show, Gentle Ben. Wait, hang on a minute...
Many horror fans will recall this one as an original video nasty, and much to our delight tonight, this uncut version was really quite graphic, especially the delirious finale, depicting him flying (yes, flying) around the church with glowing eyes, beheading his enemies with a massive sword, while evil pigs run about the place eating the bodies. Believe me - it's a scene every self-respecting horror fan needs to see once. Or perhaps twice.
Evilspeak boasts other strong elements too of course - it ain't just a finale. The setting of the academy really works, as does the ancient church and its ghost-train-style dungeon (Nice cobwebbage!" - Rawshark), wherein lurks the centuries-old evil. The drawing of characters is convincing enough for a little horror movie, if a little clichéd; RG Armstrong is on top form as the drunken old janitor (was that guy ever young?), and all the bullies excel in cruelty toward Coopersmith, even though they annoyed us a bit with all that unnecessary book-carrying ("Why don't they have bags? They're carrying about 10 books each!" - Rawshark). Jim also noticed that Coopersmith has a peculiar run, but Rawshark blamed that on all the books he was carrying. Do you think that's a military academy thing? Maybe...
Of course, it's all very silly. Incredibly silly. But it is directed/acted with some evident enthusiasm which makes it positively endearing. Clint Howard is fantastic as the downtrodden Coopersmith - his only ever lead role, and the Omen-esque soundtrack is particularly effective throughout. The use of 'modern computers' is a nice touch too - an aspect apparently written into the story in later stages to give it a more contemporary feel. This element gives director Eric Weston licence to present us with some dazzling sequences involving animated graphics whizzing around onscreen ("They're called vector graphics you know" - Jim) – it’s pretty audacious stuff I can tell you.
Jesus H Coopersmith, I could go on all day about Evilspeak. What did you guys think?
Rawshark So here we have Evilspeak, famous for featuring Clint Howard in his only ever lead role and also for being one of the original Video Nasties banned in the UK in the mid-eighties. But is it any good? Well, you know what, this uncut edition (not the UK trimmed version) is not that bad, and taken the right way, quite a lot of fun.
There’s nudity in the first opening section as we are introduced, via flashback to Medieval times, to Lorenzo Esteban and his Spanish Satanic ways as he decapitates a nubile young girl before being banished from his homeland for eternity. Cut back to the present day and we meet Stanley Coopersmith, a chubby young chappie who gets bullied on the sports field by his classmates before taking even more stick in the boys changing room (”Not the shower scene I was hoping for” - Jim) at the Military Academy he attends.
But not only do his fellow classmates hate him, so does the Commandant and all of the teachers. Despised by all, Stanley soon finds himself facing punishment detail and is tasked with the duty of clearing up the cellar of the school’s church. Whilst clearing the crypt, he stumbles on a ‘devil book’ and discovers the Academy was built on land given to devil worshipper Esteban when he landed on US shores. And so begins Stanley’s plan to take revenge on his tormenters by studying Esteban’s writings and summoning him back from the dead via his 1981 computer…
Despite the fact the film really never gets out of third gear, there’s a lot to like about Evilspeak. The supporting cast is generally great, including the kinky secretary Miss Friedemeyer, and the school’s caring cook who gives Stanle a puppy to look after. There’s even a beauty contest half way through which perked us all up no end (”Miss Heavy Artillery! This is gold!” - Zomblee). The white swimsuit girl should have won, not the girl in blue, in my opinion at least.
However, the film is best known for it’s inventive use of gore and ”the pigs”, neither of which disappoint. Miss Freidemeyer is the first to go (that’ll teach her to steal Coopersmith’s book) as the pigs attack her in the shower, but it’s the end finale in the Church that really pulls all the stops out. As Coopersmith begins levitating, he unleashes all manor of hell and havoc as the Commandant is thrown onto a ”spiked chandelier” (Jim), the Reverend is offed by a spike to the head and a true ”Decap fest” ensues as Coopersmith’s hair grows increasingly wild and untamed. Bully Bubba is killed as a pig breaks through the door (”Here’s piiigggyy!” - Zomblee), and Zombie Sarge ends up pulling out his own beating heart. Nice. As Jim said at the end - ”this film has got ‘ban me’ written all over it”. Quite.
”Who let the pigs out? Oink, Oink!”
Jim Yes that was some crazy ending, but that's not where most of the fun is to be had with Evilspeak. Seeing Clint as a young bullied militaty cadet character is absolutely smashing fun. All the local jocks hate him, all the teachers hate him, in fact it appears everybody hates him. Except his brother Ron, that is, who always casts him in small parts in his movies. And Gentle Ben, he doesn't hate him either, even though the bear that played Gentle Ben is probably dead as that was more than 30 years ago, surely.
Anywho, Clint has to clean up that church basement, stumbles upon some book written by a Spanish Devil worshipper and promptly uses a combination of that and his early 80s computer that predates the VIC 20 to do some devil worshipping stuff. The basement turns in to a shrine, Clint goes evil power mad, the pigs turn up, loads of people are killed with cool gore and the girl in white wins Miss Heavy Artillery (isn't that the best name for a beauty contest ever?).
Admittedly, we were all drawn a little too much in to Clint's performance at the beginning, perhaps analysing it a little too closely ("He's changed his top! Oh, maybe he's just taken one layer off." - Zomblee, "He's taking a steaming piss." - Rawshark). Similarly, the question of who lit those hundreds of candles in the basement Estaban shrine computer room is perhaps not important ("Maybe it's the sarge's job to keep all the candles alight?" - Rawshark), but it's the weird little things in films like this that stick in your head. Like, how Miss Friedemeyer reveals in the shower what weird breasts she has, and, as Zomblee point out, how "The pigs don't seem too fussed about the strange breasts." That's pigs for you - not as fussy as Zomblee.
A great film actually, one that stays with you for all the right and wrong reasons. I wasn't expecting much from this flick so was pleasantly surprised. Why the hell thought of adding rampaging pigs I don't know, but I'm certainly glad they did.
"By all accounts Father Estaban was a strange one."
Director Eric Weston
Cast Clint Howard
Claude Earl Jones
Runtime 100 mins
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I Drink Your Blood (1970)
Plot Hippies eat rabies infected pies.
Jim So, it's time for things to get really grimy now as we take a full decade's step back from the crowd pleasing Evilspeak and switch our attentions to the real grindhouse cult hit I Drink Your Blood. Made at the height of the hippie boom, and apparently released on a double bill with the even more ridiculous I Eat Your Skin, this is one surprising piece of work, with rampant drug taking, funny gore moments, racism, sexism and some not so funny scenes of sexual violence. It's also got meat pies infected with rabies, which is pretty gross too.
The plot tells of how this bunch of shameless, drug taking hippies move in to a deserted house in small town America (I think their van broke down?) and proceed to terrorise the locals, including raping one girl who was sort of dating one of the gang called Peter. This pisses off her granddad who confronts them but, in quite a shocking scene, they beat him up and force feed him LSD. His grandson (so the raped girl's brother, then) finds a rabid dog, injects the infected blood in to a bunch of meat pies and sells them to the hippies. They all eat the pies except Peter, who has none, and Horse, the group leader, who has two pies making him double bonkers by the end of the film.
And it's the descent into rabid madness that's loads of fun, mind you the hippies are taking so much LSD throughout that at times it's hard to work out which hippy is mad and which is high ("Put aside your whirly things?" - Rawshark) so it's a good job Zomblee had his camera ready to take snapshots of crazy antics as evidence ("I want to get him with the salt and pepper horns." - Zomblee). Still, we all agreed the shot of the black guy with the big axe was pretty iconic for 1970, and he looked heavily rabid ("He's got the best frothing." - Zomblee). Plus those construction workers deserved everything they got for having group sex with the dirty, filthy, drugged up rabid hippy girl, and it was great to see a bit of zombie style action from them, even if the river escape was a bit silly ("No, they can stay in water because they're all afraid of water..." - Rawshark)
Other highlights? Well, the pregnant girl goes out in a way that will make you grimace, plus the hot Jap chick ends the movie on a real hot note by setting fire to herself. I'll let my learned colleagues tell you about all that, suffice is to say that the cops turn up and shot everyone at the end and everything works out fine, hurray!
"He's not drunk stupid, he's been doped!"
Rawshark The second film of tonight that starts with naked Satan worshipping (featuring one of our favourite 70s actresses, Lynn Lowry) and the (real?) death of a chicken, I Drink your Blood is a classic Grindhouse flick from 1970 that still packs a powerful punch, as well as packing in all manner of themes from all of our favourite exploitation flicks.
When eight hippies turn up at a small American town, they stop briefly at the local bakery to get some meat pies and walk back (”He’s giving Lynn Lowry a piggy-back. I’d love to give Lynn Lowry a piggy-back” - Jim) to takeover a nearby boarded up hotel. The hotel is infested with rats, so they set about exterminating the vermin before the leader, an Indian guy called Horse, demonstrates he’s not very nice by cutting one of his gang member’s feet, spraying blood over each other’s faces.
Soon after, Grandpa turns up at the hotel with a shotgun, but Horse kicks him the nads and forces him to take LSD. This annoys the Grandpa’s grandson, so he tools up with farm equipment, but then decides instead to inject some rabies-infected blood into the meat pies, hoping that the hippies will return to buy and eat them, which, of course, they do.
With the exception of Andy, the hippies all soon turn insane (”Oh, he’s foaming. He’s officially foaming at the mouth” - Jim) and the black guy begins embarking on a vicious killing rampage, whilst the girls go off to see the workers at the nearby dam, one of whom allows herself to be ‘raped’ (”Rapies!” - Zomblee), thereby infecting the locals and turning them into zombie-like killers. From here on in it develops as a grindhouse version of Romero’s The Crazies as our small band of heroes battle to survive amidst the carnage on-screen as the hippies and the dam-workers go kill-crazy.
For a film made in 1970, I Drink Your Blood is surprisingly explicit, with an abundance of nudity (the naked girl having the rabies fit is indeed quite uncomfortable to watch), gruesome killings and cannibalism. Sure, the Rabies-infected chase by the river is a bit dated now (reminding us of a cross between Benny Hill and Scooby Doo due to the rabies victims’ fear of water), but the rest of the film is pretty intense and very well crafted. With well-designed sound effects (the high-pitched buzzing is very hard on the ears), well-staged gore scenes and strongly written characters (cheer for the heroes, jeer Horse and his cronies!), this exploitation flick really does deserve its cult classic status. Just don’t eat any meat pies whilst watching.
”Because death by hydrophobia is agony.”
Zomblee Rawshark is right, this isn't a movie to eat pies to. It's deliciously demented, rabid fun from start to finish. You must know the plot by now: kick-seeking, half-arsed Satanic hippies wreck havoc in a dying, middle-of-nowhere small town, force feed LSD to old man, old man's grandson takes revenge by feeding hippies meat pies injected with rabies, hippies turn rabid and really start wrecking havoc.
Any connoisseur of vintage grindhouse cinema should have this little gem in their well-pawed DVD collection. It's a gutsy, primal affair with a real 'what the hell, lets see how this turns out' feel about it, which you can really imagine yourself watching at some back-of-beyond drive-in circa 1971. There's nothing quite like watching a mixture of frothing Satanic hippies and small town types running rampant, clutching household implements as weapons and looking a bit like Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City 'zombies'.
Apart from the lovely (if too thin) Lyn Lowry, the cast is completely unknown. Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury is enjoyably OTT as Mansonesque leader Horace; he was the only one for whom one rabies pie isn't enough, so he goes extra mental when the shit kicks in ("Horace is feeling extra bad/good. He ate an extra pie" - Jim). Chowdury doesn't give what you would call a conventionally 'good' performance, and neither do the rest of the cast, but this is bargain basement gold so if quality acting is what you're after, then you're watching the wrong movie. It just looks as if everyone involved is having loads of fun. And so were we!
As the guys have said, there is plenty of envelope-pushing stuff going on here; the most memorable (for the wrong reasons) scene depicts a pregnant woman committing suicide (or was it an abortion?) - always a toughie to watch. But there are also hangings, decapitations, rape, carving-knife-on-hand action, and God only knows what else, all complimented with lashings of animal cruelty. A vintage gorefest then, eclipsing much of what the then contemporary Herschel Gordon Lewis had to offer (though he can be credited as more a pioneer of this type of thing). This actually feels less Lewis, more early Peter Jackson shagging George A Romero. It might be a drive-in quickie for David Durston and Co, but there is enough pace, excitement - not to mention violence - to place this firmly in the ranks of the best exploitation movies ever made. Except for that excruciating soundtrack – the worst thing about the movie for sure.
"I might not know about that 'L' stuff that makes you crazy, but I know about rabies."
Director David E Durston
Cast Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury
Runtime 90 mins
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Was that a success or was that a success? Two very different movies made 20 years apart deliver the revenge-themed goods in spades, and both are really quite mental in their own way. I Drink Your Blood was the film of the night by a short margin - the sheer low budget lunacy took us all a bit by surprise. And probably put us off eating pies for good. They make you fat anyway...
See you next time when Jim digs out two Klaus Kinski sci-fi movies. Bring it on.