Friday, February 25, 2011

BLOOD FRENZY (1987) - a trip to the desert with Lisa Loring and a rogue's gallery of nutballs

Here's the opening scene with that fucking Jackoff in a box.

Quick question, dear reader. You are walking down the street and spot a leper coming towards you. Do you…

A. Keep walking normally and act as if nothing is out of the ordinary, thereby lying to yourself and others in order to maintain the illusion of a polite society.

B. Immediately cross the street to get to the other side of the sidewalk, taking a detour to avoid this freak.

C. Pretend to trip into the leper, knocking him into oncoming traffic, hoping that the impact will send limbs flying off in all directions, like the time you set off a cherry bomb inside of a Mr. Potato Head doll.

Regardless of your reaction to the above situation, you will be exposed as the asshole you truly are. It is merely a question of type and degree. Are you the kind of asshole that tries to pretend otherwise (A.)? The kind that tries to avoid any situation that may reveal you to be an asshole (B.)? Or, the kind of asshole that thinks “I am my own god, the world is my playpen, and any sick impulse is a strand worth pursuing” (C.)? This exercise illustrates what I refer to as the “asshole index”. Blood Frenzy is the story of a psychiatrist that thinks isolating forms of “assholiness” within a group setting will allow these forms to be defeated, thereby circumventing the asshole index altogether. Unsurprisingly, it just leads to dead bodies and a lot of yelling.

Blood Frenzy comes to us from our friends at "Hollywood Family Entertainment Video", who warmly inform us of the carnage ahead by printing stills of every single murder on the back of the box. I suppose if you’re a family living in Hollywood, reenacted scenes of bloody carnage are the least of your worries, what with hookers running around hopped up on speedballs. Maybe the entire point of these direct-to-video gore films, that is, to assault the viewer with rubbery murders, is lost on the filmmakers. Perhaps they weren’t yet comfortable in this format (director Hal Freeman’s not-so-varied filmography mostly includes movies like Stiff Magnolias, which is neither about gardening nor arthritis).

Anyway, the opening scene establishes the cinematic pattern here-in. A munchkin plays with his jack-in-the-box while his drunken father is killed by a slicing hoe to the throat. This jack-in-the-box/bloody stabbing combo is repeated throughout, possibly as a comment on the repressed horrors of childhood and how they manifest themselves through explosively fake murders later on in life.

In the mean time, our resident pioneering psychiatrist, who employs “experimental methods” and “has her detractors”, decides that the best way to cure a group of asshole crazies is to take them on a RV trip to the Mojave Desert and let them yell at each other. These characters all represent sub-Freudian hang ups in an awesome collection of one-dimensional characters.
You have the slut, the drunk, the asshole, the frigid girl, the Vietnam vet, and Lisa Loring (Wednesday from The Addams Family) portraying the bitchy lesbian (who is diagnosed with “bitterness”, presumably because the phrase “screaming dyke” may come across as insensitive). Every line of dialogue and action is intended to convey these respective stereotypes. The drunk might ask for a Budweiser. The slut rubs up against men at every turn. The frigid one keeps saying “I don’t like being touched!”. The asshole engages in repeated verbal facsimiles of “I am an asshole! If you don’t like it, you can go fuck yourself!”. The vet says things like “I remember that gook boy‘s eyes!” while stock bullet and helicopter sounds litter the soundtrack. Oh yeah, and Lisa seems awfully “bitter” about something or other.

Anyone could be the killer because everyone is certifiably nuts. Unrepentant and widespread insanity is always convenient in a slasher because it usually means you don’t have to come up with some stupid motive. Lisa Loring sums it up best by saying “since when does a psycho need a reason?”. The RV in a desert plot reminds one of
The Hills Have Eyes, but really, Blood Frenzy is the blandest, most unappetizing, most one-dimensional appropriation of Ten Little Indians that could possibly be concocted for the silver screen (or, more to the point, scant number of VHS copies). Ugly and bland, like watching someone eat moldy styrofoam, with the desert’s mystery and beauty rendered non-existent through the power of butt ugly cinematography and repeated lapses in matching exposures. They might as well have filmed it with a camcorder, staged on a pile of dirt. The score doesn’t help matters, sounding like a dying synth bird slowly coughing up its own lungs, while a fake, tone deaf Ry Cooder fucks around on his dime store acoustic.

After most everyone is killed off within the jack-in-the-box song/murder framework mentioned earlier, Lisa and her toothless retard brother are revealed to be the killers. This leads to the film’s saving grace; a bloody orgy of screechy, twist-endy nonsense. I wasn’t exactly paying attention, but I think she killed her father at the beginning of the movie in order to protect her brother, and their psychoses melded with the truly horrifying melodies of that jackoff-in-the-box. This would seem to be less a “reason” than an excuse.

I suppose the other saving grace of the “film” is Lisa Loring, what with her bitterly convincing concoction of frizzy hair, dominatrix-esque black eyeliner, and take-no-guff, dyke powered ferociousness. Her wildcat posturing and catty deliveries keep this thing chugging along until the pretty good twist ending that I completely gave away in the previous paragraph. Blood Frenzy and Iced were Lisa’s comeback pictures, proving once again that direct-to-video slashers can’t be used as career boosts and springboards to greater fame and fortune (unless you want to get into porn, or become a really famous hooker). However, the film may succeed as a theoretical model for aspiring psychoanalysts, assuming they’re too busy huffing glue to open a textbook.

p.s. Since I reviewed Iced, it only felt natural to include a piece on Blood Frenzy, as the two are basically companion pictures. Consider it my homage to Lisa and/or Wednesday.


  1. Lisa Loring as a screaming dyke? I would like a ticket please sir. Also "a munchkin plays with his jack-in-the-box" sounds deliciously dirty.

  2. @John
    For the record, I mean that literally. She's a lesbian who yells at people. That's her entire character.

  3. Still, though...Lisa Loring. Gotta take a peek. Time to dust off the VCR. Need to check out Iced as well. Thanks for unearthing these artifacts and bringing them into the light.