A Turkey Dracula On Drugs!
February 22, 2013 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Greetings, Metafilter! You are interested in bad movies. The Food Fight. The Star Wars Holiday Special. The Unknown and the Mysterious. And now, for the first time, we are bringing you the full story of what happened. We are giving you all the evidence based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. Can your heart stand the shocking true story of the world’s only anti-drug, mutant-monster, born-again-Christian film, Blood Freak?


The first character in our drama is Steve Sipek, a Croatian actor and body builder who emigrated to North America with high hopes for a career. After a name change to “Steve Hawke” and a stint in a handful of porn films, our hero caught his big break – the starring role in a Spanish-language Tarzan film. Sipek, a lifelong fan of the first Movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller, eagerly agreed to star in a second such film, shooting on location in Florida in 1970. But unbeknownst to our hero, the producers had skimped on the insurance – so when a fire broke out on set one day, the cast and crew fled, leaving our hero tied to a set piece. But! A lion, trained to untie his bonds on cue, came to his rescue, and Sipek escaped – but not without suffering burns on 90% of his body. After a painful recuperation, Sipek needed to pay his medical bills – and fast.

Meanwhile, our other hero, Brad Grinter – was plying his own trade. Grinter was a simple teacher of filmmaking, who dared to take up the filmmaking mantle on his own. His first film, Devil Rider, was a fairly routine biker-girl movie; he but he aimed higher with his next work, 1970’s Flesh Feast, the tale of South American drug lords who’ve funded a mad scientists’ plot to use specially trained maggots in a scheme to revive Adolf Hitler. Grinter was even able to cast Hollywood legend Veronica Lake as the scientist with a plan of her own (as we see in the thrilling final scene).

And thus, in 1972, Grinter was looking for his next big hit – and Sipek was looking for a way to recover from his wounds. And thus, they were drawn together inexorably by fate.


As with Flesh Feast, Grinter had only one “Name” in Blood Freak – Sipek – and rounded out the cast with his students from his film school. He and Sipek collaborated on the script – that of a Vietnam vet caught in the thrall of a drug-using party girl, until a chance encounter with some experimental turkey meat turns him into a drug-addled turkey-headed monster who can only get high by killing other junkies and drinking their blood. Sipek starred as Herschell (named in tribute to Florida’s other schlock film master, Herschell Gordon Lewis), the hapless hero; Grinter took an occasional role as a Criswellian narrator, determined to deliver his lines even if he had to read them from cue cards or break for a coughing fit.

Midway through filming, alas, the producers jumped ship. But Sipek was too desperate to complete the film and recoup some pay, and offered to co-produce with Grinter to complete the film. Even after Grinter left himself, Sipek kept going, all hopes of financial mastery long since hopeless.

The film, sadly, is not posted in one piece, but appears here in six parts for your perusal –

1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6

Alas, history does not record any distribution or screening details, or critic's responses of the time (although contemporary critique is another story).


Grinter made a handful more films after Blood Freak, all of which paid homage to Grinter’s latest passion – the nudist lifestyle. (Most notably was Never The Twain, the tale of a judge at the Miss Nude USA pageant being possessed by the spirit of Mark Twain.) He turned the filmmaking reins over to his son Ray, a cameraman, and died peacefully in 1993.

Meanwhile, Sipek steeled himself for one more porn film to recoup his money, and then retired from the career which had betrayed him so cruelly. Thinking of the heroism of his lion co-star, Sipek started a big-cat sanctuary on the grounds of his Florida home, his peace briefly disturbed when one of his charges escaped in 2004 and was killed. But a new pair of filmmakers recently launched their own project – an biopic, meant to finally bring Sipek the credit he deserves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos (20 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Amazing post! There's a comprehensive review at 1000 Misspent Hours too.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:46 PM on February 22, 2013

Watching that movie is a Thanksgiving tradition at my house! Thanks for spreading the good word.
posted by cellura p at 5:46 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

The 1000 Misspent Hours review is where I found some of the backstory (which is almost as mind-blowing as the film, I found).

I first saw this film nearly 20 years ago, when I ran with a crowd that included a couple of writers for Marvel comics; they were roommates and had the coolest apartment, so we often hung out with them. And they had the most fucked-up video collection ever - "Meet the Feebles", a Mexican film about quadroplegic superheroes called "Acciones Mutantes", the Santo Gold infomercial, and this. Then I lost touch with them, and forgot all about it until about ten years ago - when I saw it on eBay for $30, and without a single second's hesitation I plunked down the money to buy it. Then bought the DVD as well when it came out.

I've had a few screenings for friends. A couple of them love it as much as I, but most of my friends have responded by asking me to please stop showing it...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Peter - "We've all seen your compilation video, Brian; Shatner singing Rocket Man, drunk Orson Welles doing that commercial, Sylvester Stallone in that porno, and Bill Cosby beating up that midget"
Lois - "Wait, I don't remember that last one".
posted by 445supermag at 7:09 PM on February 22, 2013

Who was that dude at the beginning smoking and 'setting the stage' by casually reading his notes? More movies need to start like this.
posted by mazola at 8:45 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm much of the way through watching this for the first time right now. It's bothering me that he doesn't use a bucket. And there sure seem to be a lot of people out wandering around in the middle of the night. I think I love this film.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:06 PM on February 22, 2013

The 70s really were like this.

There is nothing I don't like about this movie.
posted by mazola at 9:32 PM on February 22, 2013

Who was that dude at the beginning smoking and 'setting the stage' by casually reading his notes?

Our host was Brad Grinter, one of the two heroes of our story. Steve "Hawkes" Sipek is Herschell, the guy who looks like the low-rent biker Elvis.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 PM on February 22, 2013

EmpressCallipygos showed me Blood Freak once. Once.

Seriously, it was so incredibly bad it was impossible not to watch. One can walk out on Battlefield Earth, because no one in it cares, but Blood Freak? The star cares. The other actors, all terrible, care. This is a movie made with love, desperation, and the sort of bad decisions only made in the middle of a Florida heat wave.
posted by zippy at 12:28 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

And on a budget of about twelve cents and some pocket lint.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:32 AM on February 23, 2013

Calling it "Im Lustgarten der wilden Mädchen" makes "The Sexiest Story Ever Told" seem so much dirtier.
posted by Mezentian at 12:35 AM on February 23, 2013

Well I loved it but I'm into that 70s gritty realism that is so big in film school.
posted by mazola at 7:36 AM on February 23, 2013

"a drug-addled turkey-headed monster who can only get high by killing other junkies and drinking their blood"
I've been telling people about this for years. Oh yes.

One favorite scene: the narrator telling us not to put stuff in our bodies, then enduring a nasty tobacco-driven coughing fit.
posted by doctornemo at 7:50 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's the going rates for renting a theatre for a screening in Brooklyn?

I'm asking for a ....friend.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 AM on February 23, 2013

Whelk, remind your "friend" that I own the DVD; and among the DVD extras are clips from one of Sipek's pornos, one of Grinter's nudist films, and a Criterion educational film about Thanksgiving.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

This, this sounds amazing. I can't decide how to use this, though.

Do I fortify myself, and watch this ahead of the new randite apprentice-work, or keep it as a restorative, to aid in the recovery, from watching the terribleness of Galt?
posted by LD Feral at 11:28 AM on February 23, 2013

If you are still reading this thread, you owe it to yourself to see "John dies at the end." It's the Donnie Darko bookend of psychotronic horror.
posted by zippy at 12:18 PM on February 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oooh, I've HEARD about that....my personal Oscar Movie Season ends tonight, so maybe tomorrow.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:14 PM on February 24, 2013

Everyone I know who has seen it, has said its much, much better then they were expecting.
posted by The Whelk at 4:22 PM on February 24, 2013

Whoa, they made a movie version of John Dies at the End?!
posted by Bugbread at 7:32 PM on February 24, 2013

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