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Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/26/2019
All Ratings out of
Movie: (or maybe ?)
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/15/2019
To this day, there are still those who don’t understand the power of a movie title. As simple as it sounds, a film’s name can make or break it. The title must be easy to remember, but it must convey something about the film’s story or characters. (This may be difficult to believe, but there are still naïve and ignorant people who simply show up at the movie theater and choose a film based on the title alone.) The group who have always understood this notion come from the world of low-budget exploitation films. They are all about marketing and they know how to slap a memorable moniker on a movie. For example, who can forget a name like Invasion of the Blood Farmers? But, is the movie memorable?
When a man drops dead in a bar, Dr. Roy Anderson (Norman Kelley) takes a sample of the blood and takes it back to his home lab, where he works with his young protégé, Don Tucker (Bruce Detrick). They are both surprised when the blood begins to display some bizarre properties. Meanwhile, Dr. Anderson’s daughter, Jenny (Tanna Hunter), who is also Don’s girlfriend, begins to worry about their neighbors, who they haven’t seen in a few days. Little does Jenny know that a group of Druids have taken over the nearby home and they are preying on the locals in the hopes of getting enough blood to bring their queen back to life.
Invasion of the Blood Farmers is one of those movies that I’ve heard about for decades, but I’d never seen before. (I probably first learned of it from The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film in 1983.) From what I’d gleaned about the movie, I pictured it as an example of the kind of gritty, violent movie which inhabited grindhouses in the early 1970s, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left. The poster’s image of a farmer who is about to drive a pitchfork into a screaming woman is an intriguing one and it points to a film which may sicken the audience with its darkness.
Well, that image couldn’t be farther from the truth. If I were asked to describe Invasion of the Blood Farmers in one word, it would be goofy. Yes, the movie deals with people who are being kidnapped and exsanguinated, but there is a certain amount of innocence to it, and it reminded me of something from the 1950s. The fact that Dr. Anderson has a lab in his house felt like something straight out of The Horror of Party Beach. It’s here that the doctor and Don read a lot of nonsense dialogue about how the blood is growing. While Dr. Anderson, Don, and Jenny often underact and the locals in the bar don’t act, the Druids all overact in a theatrical style which, again, is a throwback to a different age. We see some people get grabbed and there is a fair amount of fake blood, but when you reach the end and see the PG rating title card, you know that you’ve just witnessed something relatively tame.
With this odd goofiness comes a certain amount of low-budget charm. This is clearly a bare-bones affair, as the locations all appear to be real businesses and houses. The crew must have had limited or no lights, as everything takes place during the day, including the awkward moment where Don tells Jenny “Good night”. The story meanders all over the place, but something is always happening (whether it makes sense or not) and the movie certainly isn’t boring. This is definitely the kind of move you watch and wonder how the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 never got there hands on it. Despite the 1970s horror-movie marketing, this has all the trappings of a 1960s drive-in movie. If the term “schlock” doesn’t bother you, then you will find something to like here. Watch it with a group of friends and count how many times Egon grunts for no reason and marvel at his lack of phone etiquette.
Invasion of the Blood Farmers raises real concerns about law enforcement in small town America on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Severin Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The good folks at Severin always put love into their work and that shows in the transfer here. Scanned from the original negative, the image is very sharp and clear, showing very mild grain and only a scant amount of defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is somewhat soft at times, but this is most likely not an issue with the transfer, as the level of detail works nicely in most scenes. The depth is good, as the movie avoids the “flat” look which can haunt older movies. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 1.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a Mono track, we don’t get any dynamic audio effects here, but the actors are always audible, and there is no hissing or popping on the track. There are a few moments where the sound borders on distorting, as if the actors were too close to the microphone.
The Invasion of the Blood Farmers Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Ed Adlum and Actress Ortrum Tippel, along with moderator Kier-La Janisse. "Nothin' You'd Show Your Mom" (22 minutes) is subtitled "Eddie Adlum's Journey Through Exploitation, Coin-Op & Rock N' Roll" and it allows the director to share anecdotes from his youth which leads him to talk about how he got involved in movies, amongst other things. "Harvesting the Dead" (12 minutes) allows actor Jack Neubeck to talk about his role as "Egon" and what the production was like. "Painful Memories" (5 minutes) offers a frank conversation with Cinematographer Frederick Elmes, where he calls the movie a "lightweight production". The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long