Blood Sucking Freak: The Life and Films of the Incredible Joel M Reed - Headpress
Written by Jay Creepy   
Thursday, 18 July 2019
Creepy's Bookshelf Corner: Review of Bloodsucking Freak: The Life and Films of the Incredible Joel M. Reed on Severed Cinema


Creepy's Bookshelf Corner: Review of Bloodsucking Freak: The Life and Films of the Incredible Joel M. Reed on Severed Cinema Blood Sucking Freak: The Life and Films of the Incredible Joel M. Reed
Written by: John Szpunar
Edited by: John Szpunar
Art by: Scott Miller
Year: 2018

Published by: Headpress


My own personal experience with the iconic and legendary figure, Joel M. Reed, began and ended rather quickly. After reviewing a film he starred in (Dead Eye) I had a great idea of interviewing him for Severed Cinema. He agreed. I sent the questions, about 15 or so, he read the concluding paragraph, totally out of context if the whole interview hadn't been read, and he became rather annoyed with me. You know what, being snapped at by such a guy made me warm inside. So cool.

So it was with great pleasure that I dived head first into Blood Sucking Freak a 420 page epic which takes us through the life and films of Mr. Reed as told to John Szpunar over many years. This has indeed been a lengthy labour of love.

Headpress, the publishing company who took this one on, are a specialist gang who have been around forever it seems the early '90s was their genesis, in fact. I've bought magazines and paperbacks from them over the years, many of which have a very sleazy and grubby, but rather proudly shine with an educational aura. Fitting then, this tome on Joel M. Reed comes crashing out of their gates.

There's been many books and documentaries on the world on and behind the streets of NYC in the glory days of anything goes cinema, plus the random and outstanding characters. Joel lived through that time, knowing many of the legendary places and people. John, alongside comrades, stayed a few places in the area whilst interviewing Joel and also folks in the know. My word, what has come out is magnificent.

Joel has a razor sharp memory when it comes to his life and the faces who have passed through his years. This book doesn't just concentrate on his films, we discover his early years were spent hanging out and meeting big Hollywood names, and of course his Military service is covered. Yet the biggest ingredient, in fact almost a character itself, has to be the description of the area and the streets. Joel's telling of yesteryear, and John's detailed walks around the region in modern times. We realise how much has been lost.

Now then, the way the movies work out and go under scrutiny is as follows, we have a build up, back story, raising of funds, etcetera, the highs and lows, then the author sits with Joel and they watch the movie in question. Joel is a hive of great tales about everybody involved, their pasts, what they did then, and where they went. For instance, a picture of a chimp which hangs in a scene as they watch Career Bed, generates the story of how Joel's friend who's picture it was, wished to sue him. The guy had a house full of chimps who wanted to rape schoolgirls and just sat masturbating as they got older. Then there's Eliot the bearded 'transvestite from hell' hated by all other transvestites. Seamus O'Brian's murder is covered. One of the naked girls in Bloodsucking Freaks was the wife of an FBI dude who loved the movie.

What else for example? A Nazi fanatic loaned his gun and uniform for Night of the Zombies, also appearing in the movie (his Mom told Joel how she couldn't understand why her son was like that) and just randomly how the girl who was tortured on the rack in Bloodsucking Freaks disappeared, people tried looking for her, but nothing. Also, Joel is very honest about how he sees his films now, and what he could have done differently.

Just about each and every page has an illustration, whether a screen shot, poster, behind the scenes, a picture of a grim street, wow, this is a metropolis of delight for anyone craving that era (the '60s and '70s) of filmmaking. Note that a quantity of memories are served up by, say, producers and others who joined Joel on his quests, and they all have wonderful recollections which add finer and wider dimensions to the films.

The huge cast of characters described in this book from beginning to end all have amazing backgrounds, tragedy, comedy, horror, it's all here. The samples I mentioned above are mild compared to some, I didn't want to spoil this for you all.

In a nutshell, whether you are an admirer, a lover or a hater of his work, this book is a time capsule of an untouchable era which cannot be copied. Blood Sucking Freak stands as a serious and detailed education in making a film from basically nothing, from all the hardships, the long shoots, to the disappointments if everything fails.

Overall, Blood Sucking Freak is well written, entertaining on many levels and deserves a place on your bookshelf next to volumes of Cinema Sewer, and Pete Chiarella's A Whole Bag of Crazy (see review here)



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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 July 2019 )