A James Mason (not really, it’s Joel Vance, an employee of Ed Adlum doing an impersonation) introduction of INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS explains the story, as it is, of the druids. Much to Adlum’s glee he read that little is known of the druids so he was able to save…I guess…his horror story by making the Sangroid aliens into Sangroid druids instead. Most of the druids are newly arrived while one of them has long acted as their vanguard and established himself in the community. They must collect blood from the local yokels to awaken their long dormant queen.
The druids look like Hee Haw rejects as they go about their business in the most menacing manner their aw shucks way allows. They pick on the drunkards and other marginalized folks of the community as they try to acquire enough of the precious red grue to awaken their sleeping queen. The local mortician, Dr. Roy Anderson (Norman Kelly) finds something sinister in an autopsy he performs on the victim of a highly unusual public death. He entrusts this discovery to his assistant Don (Bruce Detrick) who tries to aid the doc as he protects Anderson’s daughter who happens to be his girlfriend. Things begin to spiral out of control as the man he has contacted to help him is actually a druid in disguise. All the while Gomer and Opie erm…Egon and Ogmar go about doing the bidding of their high priest Creton. Yep….Creton. This bidding generally involves going about and killing young people with a magic baton and harvesting their blood which then magically increases in volume. Remember-no one knows much about the druids. It totally works.
The effects in BLOOD FARMERS are downright laughable and much of the acting is godawful yet the sincerity behind the film has helped in endure as a cult classic for forty years. Ed Adlum had an idea and put it to film. Unfortunately –or fortunately–he realized his shortcomings and lack of funds and made his sci-fi alien romp a druidic horror story two-thirds of the way into filming. Despite setbacks, shitty acting and incompetent camera work the film endures as a cult classic. The gorkish Egon and Ogmar are a treat to behold as they limp their way through very few lines and gimp their ways across much of the screen. It is as comic as it is horrific and there are a few Michael Finley lensed inserts that are pretty horrific for sure. The sound is fine but the picture is rough as it is from a print found in Ed’s garage. Code Red did fully disclose that the print would not be pristine or even clean. The co-feature on the other hand is another story entirely.
Jeffrey Butler (James Patterson) inherits his grandfather’s house and sends his lawyer, John Carter (Patrick O’Neal) to put things in order and represent Jeffrey as he settles the disposition of the house. Carter meets with the town council which includes Mayor Adams (Walter Abel), Sheriff Mason (Walter Klavun), newspaperman Charlie Towman (John Carradine), and secretary Tess Howard (Fran Stevens). They are quite concerned with what shall be done with the old Butler house and they wish to try to secure it with town funds. Carter brings along his alluring girlfriend Ingrid (Astrid Heeren) to keep him company and provide distraction.
Jeffrey’s grandfather Wifred Butler died one Christmas Eve after finding out his house was now an asylum. He accidentally sets himself on fire and goes running off into the Long Island night. Once he decides to sell the long abandoned house he must deal with the concerned town council who do not want the site to become a destination due to its checkered past. As news of the house’s pending sell spreads an inmate from a nearby asylum breaks out and heads toward the town. After meeting with the town council John and his Euro doll Ingrid are quickly dispatched by a maniac in Butler mansion. Jeffrey shows up to town as a series of chilling phone calls are made to the Mayor and his inner circle and he is thought to be a maniac by the mayor’s lovely daughter (Mary Woronov). Convincing her otherwise the two attempt to save the lives of the townsfolk from the hands of the maniac.
Unfortunately the sheriff had already grown suspicious and gone to the cemetery near Butler house where he meets his end. Things build to a crescendo as the town’s awful secret sees the light of day and the true horrors that occured at Butler house are finally revealed. SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is a frightening and original holiday tale that would inspire others such as Bob Clark’s BLACK CHRISTMAS and even lay the groundwork as a prototype for the slasher subgenre.
It doesn’t get much more chilling as when the lunatics file into the house armed with their improvised weapons as Silent Night, Holy Night plays. It doesn’t help matters that the council of loons is led by fucking Ondine. The house and its environs are dreadful and unsettling. Maybe not so foreboding as the Myers house in HALLOWEEN but the house is definitely a character in its own right. It’s arc of development may be more complex than any of the human players in the film.
The roles are all played quite capably with one exception. Mary Woronov is quite lovely and sincere and Patric O’Neal gives a staid but effective performance that provide further cohesion to the cast surrounding James Patterson’s great performance. The only real critique is how John Carradine has nothing to do but ring a frigging bell and drive a car. He is absolutely pointless in the flick and any elderly gent could have been given the role of Towman and nothing would have changed one iota.
The sound is good but the real surprise of this release is the remarkable restoration of SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT. The picture quality is amazing and all the more so when compared to any of the other releases of this flick. I read a post on a message board that called it a revelation and that is not really overreaching. This release allows the viewer to take in the intricate lighting of the moody mansion and the dreamlike scene of the asylum in its staggering sepia is all the more harrowing for it.
The Code Red release includes trailers for INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS, SILENT NIGHT BLOODY NIGHT, and HEATED VENGEANCE. There is a link for Blood Farmers Radio spots on the menu but they are absent and it goes directly to the film when selected. Also included is a commentary track with Ed Adlum hosted by Lee Christian is included for INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS. This double feature DVD is available directly from Code Red at their webshop.