BLOOD SUCKING FREAKS (1976) Reviews and overview

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Blood Sucking Freaks is a 1976 American dark comedy horror film written and directed by Joel M. Reed (Night of the Zombies; Blood Bath). The plot is loosely based on Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Wizard of Gore.

The movie stars Seamus O’Brien, Viju Krem, Niles McMaster, Dan Fauci and Luis De Jesus.

Shot as Sardu: Master of the Screaming Virgins, the film was titled The Incredible Torture Show for its original brief US theatrical run.


In 1981, Troma Entertainment acquired the distribution rights and retitled the film Blood Sucking Freaks (Bloodsucking Freaks on publicity material). The film would go on to achieve minor cult-classic status due to its ability to slip between being a serious horror film with erotic overtones and a campy send-up of gore films.

In September 2017, Headpress published John Szpunar’s book, Blood Sucking Freak! The Life and Films of the Incredible Joel M. Reed in the UK.



A horror-themed theatre is run by Master Sardu and his midget assistant, Ralphus. In keeping with the Grand Guignol-style, the theatre puts on grotesque shows about torture and murder.

What neither the audiences nor the critics know is that the shows are not staged but real. Moreover, the women that appear to be tortured, dismembered and even killed during the performances, are not actresses but kidnapped victims who are made into slaves…

bloodsucking freaks 88 Films blu-ray artwork

Buy uncut on 88 Films Blu-ray | DVD via

All-Region Codes
Limited Edition Slipcase
Audio Commentary by Eli Roth
Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman
Original Trailer
Tour of Troma & Interviews with Three Cast and Crew Members
Booklet Notes by Calum Waddell
Aroma du Troma
Radiation March
Two Troma public service announcements
Lloyd Kaufman’s Autobiography Promo Video
Reversible Sleeve Incorporating Original Artwork

Review of 88 Films Blu-ray:

Joel M. Reed shot this perversely dark ‘comedy’ on 16mm so its presentation on Blu-ray was always going to reveal the grain of the source material. However, British company 88 Films have done a sterling transfer job and there is no doubt that sick flick Blood Sucking Freaks has never looked this good.

A slew of extras from Troma’s 2014 Blu-ray + DVD combo are included, plus an audio commentary by director and fan Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel, The Green Inferno) and interviews with three members of the cast and crew.

The package is rounded off with a limited edition slipcase that houses a reversible sleeve featuring appropriately tacky newly commissioned artwork and the film’s original poster as The Incredible Torture Show.

Joel M. Reed was clearly courting controversy with this deliberately over-the-top movie – sucking brains out with a straw, indeed! – and those moralistic critics that believe its gleefully sexist tone is a reflection of serious misogyny should perhaps consider it in the same vein of deeply dark humour that makes Flesh for Frankenstein such a distasteful delight. The movie questions its own audience’s lust for blood, acts as an observation on the seedy side of ’70s New York and is clearly designed to be an offensive wind-up.

What’s odd is that Reed’s PG-rated horror anthology Blood Bath, lensed a year previously in 1975, and his Night of the Zombies (1981), are both dull and anaemic, so clearly knowing nastiness wasn’t his specific forte. Perhaps he just got out of bed on the wrong side when he penned this one?

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“Blood Sucking Freaks will make you feel dirty, and you will love every minute of it. That’s the wonder of this movie. And there can be no question whether the filmmakers realized what they were doing– they most assuredly did.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“If you’re the sort to pick apart a film based on technical aptitude, this is not going to be your cup of tea. Indeed, the performances in this are absolutely dreadful save for Seamus O’Brien who plays Sardu and spends most of his screen time flouncing about like some kind of deviant Vincent Price. O’Brien is an absolute joy to watch in this, delivering his lines with such conviction one wonders if he’s even acting at all.” The Church of Splatter-Day Saints

“If anything makes it tolerable, it is that it is presented as comedy rather than tragedy. Unfortunately, it falls flat far more than it amuses. One could complain about the misogyny of it all. Or its willingness to offend everyone possible. Or even the vibrant, sardonic performances of the principals. But that is giving the film more credit than it deserves” Classic Horror

“It spends so much time trying to alienate, disgust, and in rage its audience that by the time it’s over, you actually begin to enjoy its guttersnipe defiance.” Deep Red, no.1, 1987

“When people use the term ‘bottom of the barrel’, they often forget about the underside of the barrel, which is where poorly-made dreck like this belongs. It offers absolutely nothing in the way of entertainment, and I think you’re a cruel little nutcase if you talk someone else into seeing it […] The nastiest, filthiest and just about worst thing you will ever see.”

“I’m not going to pretend that Joel M. Reed and Lloyd Kaufman were trying to be deep or make any kind of message, they were just trying to make a shocking movie, which they succeeded. This movie is very shocking […] I’m not really a fan of this movie. But if you’re curious, it’s worth checking out especially if you’re interested in extreme cinema. Disturbing movies. Underground cinema and Troma in general.” The Maniac YouTube review

“It should be noted that Blood Sucking Freaks is, at its heart, a fairly broad black comedy. It pokes fun at its audience’s love of violence, the corruption and filth of 70s New York, and the theatrical scene in general (particularly in Sardu’s wish to be taken seriously as an artist) … Even particularly vile lines (such as the classic “Her mouth will make an interesting urinal.”) carry with them an exaggerated sense of outrageousness.” Movie Feast


Buy Troma Blu-ray + DVD: |

Freaks trots out about every demented and reprehensible act known to man and presents them as some sort of blood-soaked live-action cartoon. None of the women wear clothes and those that do, don’t keep them on very long […]. Quite possibly the single most misogynistic movie ever made….” Cool @ss Cinema

Blood Sucking Freaks is filled wall-to-wall with screams, with blood, with nudity, with hopelessness, with helplessness, with violence, and most of all, with venomous hatred of women. I have never seen a movie quite like it. Roger Ebert, Siskel & Ebert & Movies, 1987

Cast and characters:

Seamus O’Brien … Sardu
Viju Krem … Natasha Di Natalie
Niles McMaster… Tom Maverick – Alice, Sweet Alice 
Dan Fauci … Sergeant Tucci
Alan Dellay … Creasy Silo
Ernie Pysher … Doctor
Luis De Jesus … Ralphus
Alphonso DeNoble … White Slaver

Film Facts:

Lead actor Seamus O’Brien was stabbed to death in his own apartment on May 14, 1977, when trying to prevent a burglar from escaping.

blood sucking freaks detective


Director Joel M. Reed in a publicity shot

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