- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Bloodsucking Freaks

Also known as:
The Incredible Torture Show (Original title)
Joel Reed's Bloodsucking Freaks (Alternative title)
The Heritage of Caligula: An Orgy of Sick Minds (US video title)

Year: 1976

Genre: Horror / Exploitation / Comedy

Language: English

Runtime: 88 min

Director: Joel M. Reed

Writer: Joel M. Reed


A magic show has hit town, a show that forces you to believe the unbelievable. Sardu has arrived with his Theatre of the Macabre, where victims are killed in front of an audience, but the audience has no idea! Some of the audience members make themselves heard during the show, and soon their lives are personally affected by the brutal Sardu. A football player starts an investigation on the theatre when his girlfriend unexpectedly joins the show.

Our thoughts:
"Bloodsucking Freaks" is one of the most talked about titles in the Troma library due to how controversial it was at the time. The fandom has grown quite large over the years considering what a trashy, and honestly quite awful, movie it actually is. But don't misunderstand me, the movie is definitely the entertaining kind of awful, which is most likely why it is remembered still to this day. Joel M. Reed has been behind a few other trash classics, but "Bloodsucking Freaks" was always his one success, if you can call it that. Personally I hadn't watched the movie in about 9 years when this review copy arrived, so I was just happy to get another chance to revisit the Theatre of the Macabre and good ol' silly Sardu and his assistant.

Sardu, along with his midget assistant Ralphus, are performing a disturbing show called The Theatre of the Macabre in which beautiful women are tortured and killed in what seems like a magic show. At least that's what the audience believes - or as Sardu puts it: if you are repulsed then think about it as magic, if you are bored then think about it as being real. This is actually smarter said than I'd want to give Sardu credit for, it would be great if it worked when being applied to movies like this one, right!? Sardu is having some trouble with a grumpy credit who refuses to review his work because it's so awful, and this man is soon part of his brutal show. Another victim of Sardu's is a couple that were in the audience on the same night. He kidnaps the woman - a talented dancer - to be part of his show as well, and her boyfriend contacts an investigator to get to the bottom of her sudden disappearance.

Let's not be silly, there isn't much of shock value left in "Bloodsucking Freaks" after all this time. But the entertainment values are still running high. There's a lot of comedy in the movie that I feel is important to bring up when talking about the movie, which could otherwise be seen as trash cinema that hasn't aged well. It's the entertainment in the comedy as much as in the trashiness that makes it worth watching.

If we are to discuss the memorable scenes, which once were seen as disturbing, I believe the finale involving a chopped off penis and a teeth pulling scene come out on top. They're fun now, but I'm not gonna take away the power it most likely had when it first came out. A few other favorite scenes would have to be the scenes involving the crazy cannibal women that are kept in a cage. The effects aren't horrible, I have no real issue with them. They're not always convincing but it's exactly what I want out of trash cinema from the '70s. It's oozing cheese and gore!

"Bloodsucking Freaks" would be nothing without its crazy characters. Sardu and Ralphus, obviously, but just as much the pretentious critic Creasy Silo and the cop who ends up trying to solve the case. It's eccentric characters against eccentric characters, and it all blows up in a awfully amusing finale.

If you haven't seen "Bloodsucking Freaks" before then it's completely up to your if it's worth it. The movie has some significance in the exploitation genre, but ultimately it's trash and that's not for everyone. It followed two movies that I'd recommend before this one: H.G. Lewis' "Blood Feast" and "The Wizard of Gore". Turn to "Bloodsucking Freaks" if you want more of that, but with some extra spices. If '70s and '80s trash is completely up your alley, then you have already seen this one. Sweden can now enjoy it on DVD from Njutafilms, and I can't wait until I stumble upon the DVD in all the wrong places.

Positive things:
- Awful and trashy in all the right ways.
- Highly entertaining much because of its crazy characters.
- A few fun gore scenes, many which upset a lot of people back in the day.
- Plenty of comedic scenes.

Negative things:
- There is nothing to be disturbed by anymore, obviously.

Gore: 3/5
Nudity: 3/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 2.5/5
Comedy: 2.5/5

We got this movie from:

It can be bought from:

Reviewed by:


Like us on Facebook

Best of 2017
"City of Rott: Streets of Rott" Press Release
Best of 2016
Best of 2015
Underrated Horror Movies That Aren't Underrated: A Halloween List
Howling: Halloween 2015
Amityville: Halloween 2015
A Stephen King Halloween for 2015
"Tales of the Dim" Press Release
Best of 2014
Full Moon Favorites
A '90s Halloween
Best of 2013
A Profane Preview
A Netflix Halloween for 2013
"German Angst" on Kickstarter
The Sexploitation/Erotica List
Ronny's Arthouse Films List #2
Best of 2012
Worst of 2012

Special Feature Archives

1. Okja
2. Lucky
3. 68 Kill
4. Prevenge
5. Shin Godzilla
6. Good Manners
7. Love and Other Cults
8. Get Out
9. It Comes At Night
10. November
Taken from Best of 2017

- Mondo Vision
- Second Run DVD