DirectorDavid E. Durston
Release Date(s)1971 (November 22, 2016)
Studio(s)Jerry Gross Productions/Cinemation Industries/Monarch Releasing (Grindhouse Releasing)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A+
What happens when you feed a bunch of hippies freshly-baked meat pies loaded with rabies? They go on a murderous rampage, of course! Originally titled Phobia, before the original distributor took it over, I Drink Your Blood hit the drive-in circuit in 1971 and was met with both success and controversy. The first film ever to receive an X-rating solely for violence, it was censored heavily, even by theater and drive-in projectionists who deemed it too vulgar for public consumption. These many years later, it’s now held in higher regard by genre fans and gore hounds the world over.
When David E. Durston originally set out to make the movie, he envisioned a satirical look at the hippie culture, that had been influenced by drugs and was eviscerated by the rise of the Manson family. The movie contains elements of both of those things, but was a hard sell for ratings. Many ideas and themes were excised from the movie, along with the gore, making it less of something that the director could call his own. To make matters worse, the title change occurred only because the distributor wanted to pair it up as a double feature with another movie that they also changed the name of, I Eat Your Skin. Neither film’s title had anything to do with their plots, but it was enough to get them on screens at the time.
Looking at I Drink Your Blood today, it’s more of a fascinating movie than it is a shocking one. A lot of it is fairly tame compared to some of the gorier moments in movies that came later. Still, there are so many bizarre elements and performances here that the reaction the film initially got is unsurprising. The most shocking material involves animal cruelty scenes, but there are very few of these. The director claims that no animals were harmed, but there is at least one animal death that occurs at the beginning that looks very authentic. Overall, I Drink Your Blood is an interesting artifact of its era. It has its fans, but it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
Grindhouse Releasing’s new Blu-ray contains brand new HD restorations of both versions of the movie, the uncensored X-rated theatrical cut and the original director’s cut. Both look spectacular. Grain is handled quite well, giving the presentation a very organic look. Fine detail, especially in close-ups, is sharp. Colors are bold and blacks are deep, while brightness and contrast levels are perfect. There is next to no film print damage leftover, other than some very mild speckling and an occasional thin line running through the frame. The audio, which is an English 1.0 DTS-HD track, is of the same quality. It’s fairly flat, as you might expect, with little in the way of atmospherics or speaker-to-speaker activity. However, dialogue is mostly clear and discernible, while sound effects have some decent weight. The score appropriately bleeds over into the rest of the soundtrack, but there’s no distortion or major hiss issues. The film has been preserved as it was originally intended and it looks and sounds splendid. Subtitles are also available in English SDH for those who might need them.
There are also supplements a-plenty with this release. On Disc One, there are audio commentaries on both cuts of the movie with director David E. Durston and actor Bhaskar, as well as an additional audio commentary on the theatrical cut with Jack Damon and Tyde Kierney. There are also four deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Durston and Bhaskar, three minutes of outtakes, and a Mahoning Drive-In Show featurette. On Disc Two, under Interviews, there’s the I Drink Your Blood Show, David Durston: Going for the Jugular interview, I Drink Your Blood Reunion: New Beverly Cinema footage, Cinema Wasteland: Oct. 1, 2004 screening and Q&A footage, and Cinema Wasteland: Oct. 3, 2004 screening and Q&A footage. Under Extras, there’s the original theatrical trailer, a radio spot, a set of still galleries (production stills, cast and crew, theatrical – U.S., theatrical – foreign, video releases, blood-horrors), bios and filmographies, and German shortened super 8 versions of the movie (Haus Des Blutigen Schreckens and Die Satansbande). Under Bonus Features, there’s an additional film I Eat Your Skin, which includes the Swamp Man: William Grefe – 2nd unit director of I Eat Your Skin interview and a They Came from the Swamp trailer. There’s also a second additional film, Blue Sextet, with optional audio commentary with producer/co-star Jack Damon. You’ll also find a set of trailers for other Grindhouse Releasing titles under Grindhouse Prevues (An American Hippie in Israel, Pieces, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, The Tough Ones, Scum of the Earth, The Beyond, Cat in the Brain, Corruption, The Swimmer, The Big Gundown, Ice House, Massacre Mafia Style, and Gone with the Pope), as well as a set of Blu-ray Production Credits. If that’s not enough for you, you’ll also find several Easter eggs if you scour both discs, some of which are carried over from Grindhouse Releasing’s original DVD of the film. On Disc One, there’s a new Easter egg: the Sanitation – Rodent and Insect Control short film, as well as a carried over Easter egg, which is footage of the audio commentary recording with David E. Durston and Bhaskar. On Disc Two, there are two new Easter eggs, which includes a bonus interview segment with Durston and the intro and outro segments when the movie was featured on Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Carried over is a brief bit of video of Durston singing a song about movies. In addition, there’s also an 8-page insert booklet included with essays and tributes to the film and its director, as well as a chapter listing.
Rest assured, Grindhouse Releasing’s new I Drink Your Blood Blu-ray is one of the most exhaustive and impressive releases of the year. Just the fact that anyone would go to this amount of effort for a film of this type is appreciated. With a package like this, you’ll at least appreciate the movie more... even if you don’t ultimately like it. This is an absolute must-own for genre fans.
- Tim Salmons