I Drink Your Blood is a remnant of 1970’s psychedelic cinema, and one of the craziest films that I’ve ever witnessed. The story about a group of ‘Manson family’ style satanic hippies who contract rabies and go on a killing spree was a staple of the old Grindhouse circuits, usually shown as a double-bill alongside the crappy 1964 zombie movie I Eat Your Skin. However, the title I Drink Your Blood has nothing to do with the movie’s content. The name change was simply a marketing stunt by film distributor Jerry Groos so it can be played alongside I Eat Your Skin in theatres, in order to maximize the profit he can earn from both movies. The original title for I Drink Your Blood was ‘Phobia’ as in hydrophobia, another name for rabies.
I Drink Your Blood is definitely a product of it’s time as the film has a distinct psychedelic feeling that comes from the atmospheric lighting, the unusually inventive camera angles, the bizarre, droning music, and the film’s jerky, oddly paced editing. However, I Drink Your Blood isn’t what one would traditionally call a ‘good’ film. It’s complete trash with a paper thin, poorly written script full of sleazy, tongue-in-cheek content, hilariously terrible acting from every actor involved, and very cheap special effects that look incredibly unconvincing. However, whilst watching I Drink Your Blood, it’s hard to deny that the film is quite entertaining, mainly because the film takes delight in it’s sheer madness. I Drink Your Blood isn’t trying to be a thought-provoking satire of the Manson family, nor does it try to be down to earth about rabies infection, but instead, the film delights in it’s quirky nature and thoroughly embraces the ridiculous, extraordinary premise and every silly opportunity that comes with such an idea.
However, what struck me as quite interesting when it comes to I Drink Your Blood was the pace of the movie. Despite having a premise that sounds downright crazy from the outset, the film’s pacing is rather slow, rather toned down and atmospheric. The plot of I Drink Your Blood follows a 3 act structure, and it’s only by the end of the second act that the hippies begin their rampage of carnage and brutality. Thus, despite being poorly written, there’s a definite focus on character and character interactions throughout I Drink Your Blood. This focus on characterization cleverly manages to accentuate the plot, as a lot of backstory is told by the character interactions, and it makes each individual character empathetic in their individual struggles as they fight back against the onslaught of rabid hippies, even a few of the hippies are sympathetic in their situation despite being infected and turned into rampaging killers. The first two acts of I Drink Your Blood build up how unwelcome the hippies are in this small, American town, and how they cause chaos, assault the townspeople, kill innocent animals and generally become an unlikable group; which, at first, makes the plot feel quite shallow and predictably cathartic when they get their lives ruined by rabies. However, the film makes a point of throwing all predictability out of the window by the time the film enters the third act by creating a crazy, mind-blowing climax where no-one is safe, not the protagonists, not the antagonists nor innocent bystanders.
I Drink Your Blood definitely has it’s flaws, but I found the film to be very enjoyable despite those flaws. The film’s quirky story, maniacal characters and the utter carnage that makes up the final act was a blast to watch. It’s a dated concept, certainly, but it’s interesting to see the originator of such films as Rabid, The Crazies, and Stryker’s War. There’s a good reason that I Drink Your Blood remained a Grindhouse staple for many years, just because it’s just so enjoyably crazy. All in all, I Drink Your Blood is a definite recommendation, and a great addition to the Midnight Vault.