Blood Frenzy 1987 Review
Blood Frenzy 1987
Directed by:Hal Freeman
Starring: Wendy MacDonald, Tony Montero, Lisa Loring
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
It still amazes me to this day the effect that Halloween had on cinema. Over thirty years after its initial release, the impersonations may have slowed up a tad, but they still keep coming and no other movie in the history of film-making has achieved the feat of being imitated over 500 times. During the eighties directors that were looking to make a mark in the movies found an easy path through the slasher genre, due to the fact that production costs are relatively small and the films almost always make a considerable return on their budget. Although it’s understandable that a young director would want to follow in the footsteps of the much celebrated John Carpenter, Hal Freeman’s choice to create a category entry is slightly more interesting.
Freeman had been a relatively successful porn director that had shot to fame in America for single-handedly beating the regulation that quashed the production of erotic films. ‘The people vs. Freeman’ was an interesting case in the history of US law and its conclusion changed the adult entertainment market forever. Up until that point, it had been a crime to film persons performing sex acts, even if the filmmakers could produce hand-written documents of consent from the participating models and conviction carried a three-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
Most movies before then had been shot in secret locations to avoid prosecution under the ‘pandering’ laws of the state. However when caught and convicted, Freeman’s team of attorneys argued that the First Amendment prohibited the application of pandering laws to the creation of adult materials and ultimately he won the case. The victory opened a whole new avenue of possibilities for the industry and it has since become a high-grossing entertainment medium.
The fact that Freeman now had the freedom to indulge in his chosen market and make a considerable profit without the added worries of Police intervention made his decision to swap genres and direct a slasher movie profoundly intriguing.
An eccentric psychiatrist decides to take six of her patients away to the Mohave Desert for confrontational therapy. The pick of the gang of emotionally delicate travellers includes Rick (Tony Montero), a Vietnam vet who is suffering from that age-old Hollywood chestnut of stereotypical post-war flashback syndrome. Also worth mentioning is Dory (Lisa Loring), a highly-charged lesbian with a deep-rooted hatred for masculinity and a desire to seek an argument in almost every situation.
Almost soon as the group arrive, their RV is ransacked by an unseen someone and they find themselves stranded with dwindling supplies of food and water. Their rations of luck diminish even further when a gloved and unseen maniac begins slaughtering the group one by one. Every character has a motive for murder, but who is the real assassin?
Despite containing all the correct ingredients that made most eighties slashers popular with enthusiasts, Blood Frenzy has become notoriously rare and at the time of writing there is no plan for a DVD release. Freeman’s slasher is somewhat undeserving of its obscure status and boasts some extreme gore and a fairly ambitious plot. The film starts in traditional territory with a pre-teen murder sequence that is extremely similar to the opening of Juan Piquer’s ‘Mil Gritos Tiene la Noche’.The throat slicing effect here is satisfyingly gruesome and the mood is set early on for the gore-filled plot line to follow.
For a first time horror director, Freeman does a good enough job and he attempts adequately to give the film a creepy aura of the macabre. In the opening, the homicidal adolescent is seen playing with a blood-soaked musical box after committing a violent act of slaughter, which acts along the common horror thread of mixing the serenity of childhood innocence with the depravity of cold-blooded murder. Attempts at suspense are continual, albeit rarely successful, but the director does well to create at least one credible jump-scare. Despite Freeman’s well-documented links to pornography, Blood Frenzy isn’t the fornication marathon that you’d expect and there’s no extreme nudity on display. Although sexual references are strong, the film concentrates mainly on horror and the plot rarely seeks gratuitous shock tactics in any other avenue. The script is brilliantly hilarious in places, with some comical profanity and technically the film looks a treat.
Each character has enough of a motive to be the maniacal assassin and the plot offers significant development to allow the viewer to pick his choice for the nut job. To be fair, the revelation of the killer’s identity is quite a surprise and the mystery is handled quite well, but it lacks enough competent tension to be a truly intriguing revelation.
The biggest problems with Blood Frenzy are the horrendous performances from the haggardly cobbled-together ensemble. Despite being by far the most experienced cast-member, Lisa Loring is laughable as the obnoxious Dory and a creative synopsis was ruined by poor dramatisation. It looks as if the cast and crew had an excellent time on set and the actors seem to have bonded extremely well. Unfortunately, this is evident in the finished print and you can’t help but feel that many scenes were shot purely for laughs, which is unforgivable for a film of this genre.
Blood Frenzy is an extremely gory (the opening murder is a prime example), competently handled slasher that suffers from a lack of professionalism. But with that said, it’s a damn site better than many of the more recognised entries from this period. Hal Freeman never returned to the horror genre and instead continued his career in porn. Fans of slasher movies however will be pleased that he had the ambition to try, because Blood Frenzy is well worth a look.
Final Girl √√