I Drink Your Blood was the first Grindhouse Releasing project that Schlockmania pur­chased in its orig­i­nal DVD incar­na­tion a decade ago.  At the time, it set a stan­dard for how rare and off­beat gen­re fare could be treat­ed on home video.  The Grindhouse gang revived this title recent­ly for a new, expand­ed blu-ray edi­tion.  Not only idrinkyb-bludoes it pre­serve what was great about the old DVD, it gives it a beau­ti­ful hi-def makeover and a jum­bo assort­ment of new, worth­while sup­ple­ments that take you deep­er into the world of ear­ly ‘70s grind­house film­mak­ing.

It all starts with a new 1.66:1 HD trans­fer that improves upon the DVD incar­na­tion:  there are new lev­els of detail and an added rich­ness to the col­or.  It’s also impres­sive how good the stark­ly-lit nigh­t­ime mate­ri­al looks here.  The orig­i­nal mono mix is given a DTS pre­sen­ta­tion that makes this vin­tage sound­track robust: the shiv­ery analog syn­th ele­ment of the score real­ly gets a boost here.

All of the extras from the orig­i­nal DVD are car­ried over and are sup­ple­ments with enough new extras to fill a sec­ond blu-ray.  Here’s an in-depth break­down of what you can look for­ward to…

DISC 1:

Commentary 1: This track dates back to the orig­i­nal DVD ver­sion and offers a live­ly pair­ing of direc­tor David Durston and Bhaskar.  It’s a good overview of the expe­ri­ence of mak­ing the film, start­ing with Durston’s real-life inspi­ra­tions and cult research before get­ting into a dis­cus­sion of the chal­lenges of pro­duc­tion (trou­ble with locals on loca­tion, some bat­tling with Cinemation’s board of direc­tors).  You also get some inter­est­ing back­ground on Bhaskar’s mul­ti­fac­eted career.

Commentary 2: a new track fea­tur­ing actors Jack Damon and Tyde Kierney.  They go deep into an actor­ly per­spec­tive on the film.  They provide a wealth of infor­ma­tion on their cast­mates, includ­ing who did and didn’t par­tic­i­pate in the film’s revival and why as well as a few eye­brow-rais­ing sto­ries about Bhaskar.  They also have some inter­est­ing, thought­ful com­men­tary on the act­ing process relat­ed via anec­dotes on par­tic­u­lar sce­nes.

Deleted Scenes (6:00): the­se are the four addi­tion­al sce­nes also includ­ed in the director’s cut ver­sion of the film.  Optional com­men­tary is pro­vid­ed by Durston and Bhaskar to explain the moti­va­tion for the sce­nes and why they were cut.

Outtakes (3:11): quick mon­tage of brief bits of footage from the cut­ting room floor, includ­ing a lot of slates.  It gives you a feel for the speed and econ­o­my of the pro­duc­tion.

Mahoning Drive-In Show (5:48): a quick fea­turet­te on a 2015 revival screen­ing of I Drink Your Blood that took place at a dri­ve-in.  It caters to the nos­tal­gia film fans feel for the dri­ve-in set­ting, with sev­er­al tes­ti­mo­ni­als from the film’s diehard fans geek­ing out over see­ing it under the stars (look out for a cou­ple who bond­ed over their love for the film).

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DISC 2:

The I Drink Your Blood Show (28:53): A fun chat show-styled fea­turet­te in which Durston hosts some cast mem­bers at his house — Lynn Lowry, Damon, Kierney — for quick inter­views.  Lowry rhap­sodizes about how the film was her intro to “sex, drugs and rock & roll,” Kierney tells a sto­ry about get­ting his head cast and Damon remem­bers how they creeped out the locals dur­ing the shoot.  Barney Cohen also pops in to reveal how he devised the film’s title and tag line.

David Durston Interview (59:52): a new com­pre­hen­sive inter­view with Durston record­ed before his pass­ing.  He cov­ers a vari­ety of top­ics to warm up: his for­ma­tive hor­ror and show­biz expe­ri­ences, his careers on Broadway and in t.v. and his ear­ly films.  From there, he moves into a series of anec­dotes about I Drink Your Blood: there are sev­er­al trib­utes to cast mem­bers, the con­tro­ver­sy around its use of ani­mals, how he got one actress to cry in a key scene and his feel­ings on the film’s release title.  You even find out about how he worked with John Huston on an unpro­duced project.

New Beverly Reunion (34:59): a fea­turet­te tak­en from audi­ence-shot footage of a 2003 reunion screen­ing that includ­ed Durston, Lowry, Kierney and Arlene Farber.  Eric Caiden and Johnny Legend host the affair, which includes a Durston intro and a lengthy post-screen­ing Q&A.  There’s a lot of info cov­ered else­where on this set but the fun of the reunion is con­ta­gious and it’s nice to see Farber, who tells a cool sto­ry about how she was cast in The French Connection.

Cinema Wasteland (17:11 and 3:49): two seg­ments from a con­ven­tion that Durston appeared at.  The first is a Q&A ses­sion that also includes Lynn Lowry, who reveals her con­nec­tion to the begin­ning of Lloyd Kaufman’s career.  The sec­ond, quick­er seg­ment is a brief chat with Durston at his dealer’s table in which he express­es appre­ci­a­tion for the film’s new gen­er­a­tion of fans.

I Eat Your Skin: the first of two bonus fea­ture films is a ‘60s black-and-white film by Del Tenney that was res­cued from obscu­ri­ty to be the b-fea­ture to I Drink Your Blood.  It has some voodoo zom­bies but it actu­al­ly more of a pseudo James Bond-ish adven­ture piece on a bud­get, com­plete with a pre-rat­ings board light­ness on blood­shed and raci­ness.  Exploitation fans will be inter­est­ed in it as a curios­i­ty piece — and the trans­fer looks gor­geous.

Swamp Man (18:14): an inter­view with William Grefe, a region­al gen­re film direc­tor who served as the 2nd unit direc­tor on I Eat Your Skin.  He reveals how Tenney got into the film­mak­ing busi­ness and then goes into plen­ti­ful detail on the shoot.  He reveals he direct­ed 90% of the exte­ri­ors and put togeth­er the crew.  He also offers some thoughts on the cast and tells a fun­ny tale about point­ing out to Tenney why he need­ed a retake on one cam­era setup.  Also includ­ed in the same area on the disc is a trail­er for They Came From The Swamp, a fun doc­u­men­tary on Grefe’s career.

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Blue Sextet: the 2nd bonus fea­ture film on this set is a David Durston film that pre­ced­ed I Drink Your Blood.  It’s a mix­ture of late ‘60s sex­ploita­tion with Jacqueline Susann-style plot­ting as a group of friends gath­er to remem­ber some­one who appar­ent­ly com­mit­ted sui­cide.  Each roles out a tale about their pal, who wasn’t so nice in ret­ro­spect and you get plen­ty of fleshy, sleazy thrills, includ­ing a sur­prise Grand Guignol set­piece that got Durston the gig to make I Drink Your Blood.  It’s fun stuff for vin­tage exploita­tion fans, with nice use of NYC loca­tions and good pho­tog­ra­phy by Joe Mangine.  It also ben­e­fits from a strong new trans­fer.

Blue Sextet com­men­tary: Jack Damon returns to do a com­men­tary for this film, which he starred in and co-pro­duced with Durston.  He cov­ers a lot of pro­duc­tion details like loca­tions and why the film was shot M.O.S.  There’s a great tale about an ill-fat­ed shoot in Puerto Rico, some intrigu­ing info on the ear­ly ‘70s indie film scene in NYC and some frank cri­tiques of his cast­mates.  A good, extreme­ly can­did lis­ten for sex­ploita­tion buffs.

Bios And Filmographies: a set of text screen bios that cov­er Durston, Bhaskar and producer/distributor Jerry Gross.  They’re all well-writ­ten and packed with cap­ti­vat­ing info, par­tic­u­lar­ly the excel­lent and in-depth Gross bio penned by David Konow.  These also fea­ture some bonus video clips: in addi­tion to trail­ers, there are radio spots for Stigma, footage of Bhaskar doing the “cobra dance” and — best of all — video footage of a cult movie award cer­e­mony where Durston is intro­duced by L.A. Times film crit­ic and I Drink Your Blood fan Kevin Thomas.

Additional Extras: the­atri­cal trail­er (one of the all-time clas­sics), some bom­bas­tic radio spots, six still gal­leries, the usu­al, col­or­ful reel of Grindhouse Releasing trail­ers and plen­ti­ful east­er eggs (Schlockmania’s favorite involves Durston singing a song about exploita­tion film­mak­ing).

Liner Notes: A nice full-col­or insert book­let that fea­tures an engag­ing, fact-filled appre­ci­a­tion of the film by David Szulkin plus trib­utes to Durston by his actors Tyde Kierney and John Damon.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of I Drink Your Blood, click here.