I Drink Your Blood
|I Drink Your Blood|
Theatrical release poster advertising a double feature of I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin
|Directed by||David Durston|
|Produced by||Jerry Gross|
|Written by||David Durston|
|Music by||Clay Pitts|
|Edited by||Lyman Hallowell|
Jerry Gross Productions
|Distributed by||Cinemation Industries|
I Drink Your Blood (also known as Phobia and, later, Hydro-Phobia) is a 1970 American cult horror film. The film was written and directed by David E. Durston, produced by Jerry Gross, and starred Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury and Lynn Lowry. The film centers on a small town that is overrun by rabies-infected members of a Satanic cult after a revenge plot goes wrong.
Filmed in Sharon Springs, New York over the course of eight weeks, the film was inspired by several real-life events that occurred at the time, namely a rabies epidemic in Iran and the murders committed by the Manson family. The film's graphic violence initially resulted in an "X" rating, but subsequent cuts allowed it to be rated "R". After changing the title from Hydro-Phobia to I Drink Your Blood, it debuted on a double feature with I Eat Your Skin. It was released on DVD on November 9, 2004.
Horace Bones, leader of a Manson-like cult, conducts a Satanic ritual in the woods. Local girl Sylvia who had befriended cult member Andy secretly observes. Sylvia is seen by cult member Molly and fleas, but is caught and raped by several of the cult members. Sylvia emerges from the woods the next morning, beaten and apparently raped. She is found by her younger brother Pete, and Mildred who runs the local bakery. They return Sylvia home to her grandfather, Doc Banner. Mildred seeks help from her boyfriend Roger Davis, leader of the construction crew working on the nearby dam which has bought up most of the town, leaving it deserted. The cult members' van breaks down, so they elect to remain in the town. They buy pies from Mildred, who explains that as most of the town is deserted and awaiting demolition, they can stay in any vacant building they wish.
Learning of the assault on Sylvia, Banner confronts the cult, but they assault him and force him to take LSD. Pete intervenes and Doc is released. Enraged by the incident, Pete takes a shotgun to get revenge but encounters and kills a rabid dog. He takes blood from the dog and injects it into meat pies at the bakery and sells them to the cult members. They eat the meat pies and begin to show signs of infection and lapse into violent behavior. Incited Sue-Lin, Rollo murders fellow cult member Shelly.
A female cult member panics and runs into the night. She is picked up by construction workers sent by Roger to investigate. She parties with the group and has sex with some of them, before showing signs of infection. Molly and Carrie also abscond. Two other construction workers investigate the house occupied by the cult members, and Horace kills them.
Andy returns to the Banner house and hides in the barn. Andy makes peace with Sylvia, but they are discovered by Pete who admits what he has done. Andy says he didn't eat the pies, so is not infected. Banner has reported the potential rabies epidemic, and is joined by Dr. Oakes. Banner, Oakes and Roger discover that the entire construction crew is infected with rabies. They are pursued by them but reach a water-filled quarry, which frightens the attackers off.
Molly and Carrie emerge from the woods and are taken in by a concerned homeowner. A curious Carrie attacks the homeowner with a knife.
Andy helps Sylvia and Pete escape after they discover Banner dead in the barn, impaled by a pitchfork. They encounter Molly, who commits suicide after learning she has rabies. Horace encounters Sue-Lin but she thwarts his plan to kill her. Rollo and Horace fight, and Rollo impales Horace with a sword. This fight allows Andy, Sylvia and Pete to escape. They discover Mildred barricaded in the bakery. As she opens the barricade Andy is beheaded by a machete-wielding madman. Sylvia and Pete retreat with Mildred to the basement. One of the infected gets in and Mildred shoots him. They leave the bakery to escape in Mildred's car, but crowds of the infected converge on them, overturning the car. Oakes arrives with reinforcements and they gun down the infected. Mildred, Sylvia and Pete emerge from the car, shaken but otherwise unharmed.
- Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury as Horace Bones
- Jadine Wong as Sue-Lin
- Rhonda Fultz as Molly (credited as Ronda Fultz)
- George Patterson as Rollo
- Riley Mills as Pete Banner
- John Damon as Roger Davis
- Elizabeth Marner-Brooks as Mildred Nash
- Richard Bowler as Doc Banner
- Tyde Kierney as Andy
- Iris Brooks as Blonde Woman
- Alex Mann as Shelly
- Bruno Damon as Rabid Guy
- Mike Gentry as Rabid Guy
- David E. Durston as Dr. Oakes
- Arlene Farber as Sylvia Banner
- Lynn Lowry as Carrie 
In 1970 director David Durston was contacted by notorious exploitation producer and CEO of Cinemation Industries Jerry Gross to write and direct a low-budget horror film. Durston had previously directed several sexploitation films and ABC's financially successful TV series Tales of Tomorrow (1951-1953) before meeting Gross. Durston later recalled, "He [Gross] said he wanted to make the most graphic horror film ever produced, but he didn't want any vampires, man-made monsters, werewolves, mad doctors, or little people". Gross had been impressed by Durston's work in Tales of Tomorrow and made a deal with Durston that if he came up with a good idea, he would double his previous writing and directing contract with the Guilds. The film's story began after a period of three weeks with Durston struggling to come up with an idea. Inspiration for the film's storyline came from a newspaper article on an incident involving a mountain village in Iran where a pack of rabid wolves attacked a local schoolhouse, infecting the victims with rabies, a disease that attacks the central nervous system, driving victims mad and homicidal. Contacting a local doctor who was an authority on the disease and had visited the village, Durstan was shown 8mm footage that the doctor had taken during his work at the village of the infected children locked in cages and foaming at the mouth. "It made the hair on the back of my head elevate. I had never seen anything so horrible, yet so real, in my life," Durston later recalled. Inspired by the experience, Durston wrote a story outline for the film which was originally titled Phobia and centered on a small town overrun with a rabies epidemic. Durston pitched the idea for the film to Gross who liked the idea and immediately greenlit the project.
Development of the film's script took eight weeks to complete with Durston making constant additions and revisions in later drafts during an additional five weeks. Further inspiration for the film came from coverage of the trial of Charles Manson. Using the high publicity generated from the trial Durston rewrote the script, creating the character Horace Bones, a Manson-like leader of a Satanic cult that terrorizes the town. According to Durston, the character Horace Bones created a real threat to the town as well as adding scenes that genuinely shocked the audience. Impressed with the film's script, which was then titled Phobia, producer Gross immediately authorized Durston to begin pre-production for the film.
Because of the film's relatively low budget, most of the film's cast was composed of mostly unknown actors. The film is also notable for its multi-ethnic cast, with actors and actresses portraying the Satanic gang being composed of black, white, Chinese and Indian members. For the film's major villain Horace Bones, actor and Indian dancer Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, who had previously starred in a minor role in Durston's earlier film Blue Sextet (1972) was cast for the role. Many critics have cited Bhaskar's performance as Horace Bones as being one of the film's major assets. Bhaskar would continue his work as a professional dancer until a 1977 accident while performing a difficult maneuver paralyzed him from the waist down. Uncredited cast members Arlene Farber and Lynn Lowry made their screen debuts. They went on to star in major motion pictures. Farber starred as Angie Boca in William Friedkin's critically acclaimed 1971 film The French Connection and the 1974 made-for-television film All the Kind Strangers. Lowry would eventually star in George Romero's 1973 film The Crazies.
Filming for Phobia commenced later that year and was shot on location during a period of eight consecutive weeks in Sharon Springs, NY, a small village once famous as a summer spa town which has since then been revitalized as a center for tourism. By the time of the production Sharon Springs had largely become a ghost town and the producers were allowed to use the abandoned hotels as locations. Durston became quick friends with the town sheriff, who helped the film's crew during filming. Durston later cast him in a bit role as the sheriff seen in the film's climax.
One of the town's locations which were used in the film was the Roosevelt, an old hotel which was scheduled for demolition within the next couple of months. The crew paid the town $300 for use of the hotel which, according to Durston, they practically tore down themselves. Because of the film's relatively low budget, most of the film's effects and stunts were practical and the cast performed their own stunts. For scenes involving rats, trained rats were brought in and scenes requiring dead rats were purchased from a local medical center and painted to match the color of the trained rats. Several of the trained rats featured in the film would later be used in the hit 1971 horror film Willard and its 1972 sequel Ben. During the course of filming, tensions between the town locals and the film's cast and crew mounted because of the locals' uncertainty and misunderstandings with the film's director. After one such incident which the locals witnessed Durston 'motivating' actress Iris Brooks during a particularly emotional scene, they contacted the town sheriff, insisting that Durston was abusing the cast and crew and should be arrested or replaced with another director. Regardless of this, Durston remained the film's director throughout the duration of filming.
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I Drink Your Blood was one of the first movies to receive an X-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America based on violence rather than nudity. Several scenes needed to be altered to qualify the film for an "R", so the producer distributed the original film asking that each projectionist censor the film as they saw fit for their market.
I Drink Your Blood was marketed and released as a double feature with Del Tenney's 1964 film Zombies, which was then changed to I Eat Your Skin, which had been recently acquired by producer Jerry Gross. As a part of his deal with the film's distributor Jerry Gross, Durston did not receive a percentage of the film's profits but was paid double his established directing salary. Although the film was marketed under the now-infamous title I Drink Your Blood, director Durston had originally intended to release the film under the title Phobia or Hydro-Phobia. However, during the film's marketing, the film's producer Jerry Gross changed the film's name to its current title; Gross had not consulted or informed Durston of the change before releasing the film under its current title, which bears no real connection to the actual film. The film was originally intended to play in drive-ins, however, without informing Durston, it opened at the first class Warner Brothers Theatre in Broadway.
Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing sought out film director David E. Durston and the two collaborated on the official release of I Drink Your Blood for DVD in North America through Murawski's Box Office Spectaculars distribution company, which continues to hold the worldwide rights to the film. The Director's Cut was released on DVD on November 9, 2004, and again on Oct 31, 2006, by MTI Home Video and Grindhouse Releasing, respectively. These cuts included scenes and material that were cut from the film during its theatrical release. The film's original cut was released by Cheezy Flicks on Oct 25, 2005.
I Drink Your Blood has received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with some critics praising its ability to shock as well as Bhaskar's performance as Horace Bones, while other critics have critiqued the film's explicit violence. Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford in their book Sleazoid Express: A Mind-twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square praised the film, calling it "the pinnacle of the blood horror movie". The Encyclopedia of Horror said that "as the film now stands what looks like it might have been a raw, ferocious thriller has become a frustrating exercise in splicing, incessantly building up to scenes of bone-crushing horror and violence which never actually happen."
Author and film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film a mixed review, awarding it 2 out of a possible 4 stars. Donald Guarisco from AllMovie gave the film a mixed review, criticizing the film's thin characterizations, inconsistent acting and dialogue. However Guarisco also stated that the film manages to overcome its flaws through its delivery of its premise, summarizing, "In the end, I Drink Your Blood is too demented and rough-edged for the casual viewer, but it will delight horror fans with a sweet tooth for schlock". Cavett Binion from The New York Times gave the film a positive review, calling the film "an intense and well made Exploitation item". Fernando F. Croce from Cinepassion.org gave the film a positive review, stating, "Shot through an inch-thick layer of grime and scored to the greasiest synthesizer in film history, David Durston's blast of undiluted grindhouse surrealism always has a handful of jokes up in the air". Scott Weinberg from DVD Talk wrote in his review on the film, "Energetic, sloppy and entirely watchable... David Durston's I Drink Your Blood is true-blue camp all the way. Plus it's vicious, violent, and frequently fall-down funny". The film has gained a cult following over the years and is now considered a classic exploitation film.
The film bears resemblance to several later films, including David Cronenberg's Rabid (1976) and George Romero's The Crazies (1973), the latter of which was remade in 2010 and also stars I Drink Your Blood actress Lynn Lowry. Both films share a similar premise to Durston's film, which has been noted by authors Johnathan Rigby and Stephen Thrower.
On September 17, 2009, it was announced that David E. Durston had planned a remake of the film that would have starred Sybil Danning. However, Durston died in 2010 at the age of 88 before the project could begin production.
References in popular culture
The film is mentioned in the end credits of the 1987 film Street Trash with a thanks: "Thanks, Anita, for taking me to see I Drink Your Blood when I was six."
- "10 Strange Things You'd Better Not Eat or Drink! - Bloody Disgusting!". Bloody Disgusting.com. Bloody Disgusting Staff. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Xavier Mendik (2002). Shocking Cinema of the Seventies. Noir Publishing. pp. 184–. ISBN 978-0-9536564-4-8.
- Motion Picture Purgatory: I drink your Blood
- Hodson, Brad. "Women In Horror: An Interview With Lynn Lowry". Brad C. Hodson. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
- Fox, Margalit. "David E. Durston, Director of 'I Drink Your Blood,' Dies at 88 - The New York Times". The New York Times.com. Margalit Fox. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- Barnes, Mike. "'I Drink Your Blood' helmer David Durston dies - Hollywood Reporter". Hollywood reporter.com. Mike Barnes and AP. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Stephen Thrower (2008). Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents. FAB Press. pp. 186–191. ISBN 978-1-903254-52-3.
- Derek Jones (1 December 2001). Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 820–. ISBN 978-1-136-79864-1.
- Schultz, Gary. "Film Monthly.com – I Drink Your Blood (1970)". Film Monthly.com. Gary Schultz. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- Wingfield, Valerie. "Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, Prince Among Dancers". New York Public Library.com. Valerie Wingfield. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
- Harris M. Lentz III (27 April 2004). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2003: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. pp. 33–34. ISBN 978-0-7864-1756-8.
- David Deal (30 April 2014). Television Fright Films of the 1970s. McFarland. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-7864-5514-0.
- Fox, Randy. "Cult movie legend Lynn Lowry brings the shivers to Nashville". NashvilleScene.com. Randy Fox. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- York, Michelle. "Where Water Rejuvenates the Soul, Can It Do the Same for a New York Town? - The New York Times". New York Times.com. Michelle York. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- "I DRINK YOUR BLOOD". Grindhouse Releaseing.com. Grindhouse Releasing. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- Gary D. Rhodes (13 January 2003). Horror at the Drive-In: Essays in Popular Americana. McFarland. pp. 290–. ISBN 978-1-4766-1051-1.
- Scott Aaron Stine (30 January 2001). The Gorehound's Guide to Splatter Films of the 1960s and 1970s. McFarland. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-0-7864-9140-7.
- June Michele Pulliam; Anthony J. Fonseca (19 June 2014). Encyclopedia of the Zombie: The Walking Dead in Popular Culture and Myth: The Walking Dead in Popular Culture and Myth. ABC-CLIO. pp. 371–. ISBN 978-1-4408-0389-5.
- Bryan Senn (30 July 2007). A Year of Fear: A Day-by-Day Guide to 366 Horror Films. McFarland. pp. 493–. ISBN 978-1-4766-1090-0.
- Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.
- "I Drink Your Blood (1971) - David E. Durston". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- Bill Landis; Michelle Clifford (19 November 2002). Sleazoid express: a mind-twisting tour through the grindhouse cinema of Times Square. Simon & Schuster. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7432-1583-1.
- Tom Milne; Paul Willemen; Phil Hardy (1986). The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies. Harper & Row. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-06-055050-9.
- Leonard Maltin (2 September 2014). Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide. Penguin Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-698-18361-2.
- Guarisco, Donald. "I Drink Your Blood (1971) - David E. Durston". AllMovie.com. Donald Guarisco. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- Binion, Cavett. "I-Drink-Your-Blood - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - NYTimes.com". New York Times.com. Cavett Binion. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Croce, Fernando. "I Drink Your Blood". Cinepassion.org. Fernando F. Croce. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- Weinberg, Scott. "I Drink Your Blood : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk.com. Scott Weinberg. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- Jonathan Rigby (2011). Studies in Terror: Landmarks of Horror Cinema. Signum Books. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-9566534-4-4.
- "The Crazies Movie Review, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
- Original director talks I DRINK YOUR BLOOD remake