Cults that kidnap victims to drain their blood for use in dark activities are a time-honored subgenre in horror. One of the more obscure of these productions is Invasion of the Blood Farmers, a 1972 drive-in-type piece that is one of three cinema works credited to former pinball and jukebox businessman Ed Adlum. The film was an ultra-low-budget effort, with a plot centering around a blood-feeding Druid cult who somehow survived the millennia, and migrated across the Atlantic from Europe to North America. The film, rarely seen after its brief theatrical run elapsed, was recently issued to DVD by Retromedia.
Synopsis: The bucolic peace of a rural county in upstate New York begins to unravel, as the dwindling survivors of an ancient Druid race quietly interpose themselves among the locals, searching for the unique human blood that will revive their centuries-dormant queen, and perpetuate their existence. Until the match is found, they will need blood of a more pedestrian variety, both for food and for use in their pagan rituals. This blood they obtain by exsanguinating kidnapped victims...with swimming pool pumps! The number of disappeared townsfolk mounts as the Druids near their sinister goal; will they succeed in their quest of regenesis, or will their reign of evil finally be ended?
Thoughts: Invasion of the Blood Farmers is a production that is just plain bad. The script is packed with banal, over-the-top dialog that quickly eliminates any plot credibility. The small cast of unknowns exhibits little acting talent, which shows in their unconvincing performances. Even the costumes are tacky; for the most part, the cultists' garb consists of coveralls and campy straw hats that make them appear less as sinister pagans than as escapees from a Green Acres set. Sets and props are minimal, and the special effects, what few there are, are nearly all poor, especially the limp-wristed cane tappings that are meant to represent vicious beatings. The cinematography, too, is mediocre (especially the action scenes), and in fact one repeated, important scene is obviously a still. Ironically, though, by using real buildings and neighborhoods in Westchester County, New York instead of back lot sets, the ultra-low budget achieved one of the film's few pluses, a capturing of the ambience of 1970s small town America.
Although the film's general idea has promise, its clumsy script, wooden acting, and cheap, unrealistic special effects make it the equivalent of a low-grade college film project. It is too poor in quality to be convincing, and thus lacks the frights necessary for a true horror film, while at the same time, it takes itself too seriously to succeed as camp.
Video: 1.85:1 non-16x9-enhanced OAR. The quality of the transfer is marginal, with faded colors, noise, flecks, low detail, and artifacting being apparent throughout the feature. There is edge enhancement in many scenes, although with so many other flaws present it isn't really distracting. Also, there is some source element damage evident at several points (including a couple of scenes where the colors change to shades of grey or green). This transfer, although watchable, is more reminiscent of VHS than DVD.
Audio: Appears to be plain mono, with considerable hiss throughout, as well as crackles and distortion. Dialog is clear enough to be heard without effort, although annoying lip-synch problems don't help.
Packaging: Alpha keepcase without insert, with cover art based on an original theatrical poster.
Supplements: There a number of modest supplements on this disc, including a photo gallery, theatrical trailers, and a Night Owl Theater introduction.
The photo gallery includes a theatrical poster and low-quality images of scenes from the feature (blurry and grainy), topped off by a brief history of director Ed Adlum's cinematic efforts.
The theatrical trailers include one not only for the feature presentation, but for five other Retromedia offerings as well: Angel Eyes, Evil Spawn, Fatal Justice, Scalps and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.
Night Own Theater consists of an introduction for the feature, a campy take-off on the old commentators who once preceded "creature features" on late-night TV, featuring long-time B-movie director and producer Fred Olen Ray (with several plugs for Retromedia products), and scantily-clad women in suggestive poses. Also included are bloopers from various Night Owl Theater episodes, and a special offer for hand-painted cels from the 1990 animated feature Evil Toons (written and directed by Mr. Ray).
Menus: Animated, based on scenes from the film, with 11 chapters in all.
Conclusions: Despite the mediocrity of both the film and the transfer, at $6.56 delivered, bad-movie and horror collectors may still find it worth purchasing. Others, mainly those who like to watch bad movies one time, will find rental a better option.