David Durston’s 1970 film I Drink Your Blood. Courtesy of Grindhouse Releasing

Garbage Day

The best film about hippies is David Durston’s 1970 freak-out film I Drink Your Blood. Its bloody tale of violence and revenge is 100% medically and sociologically accurate, offering only the most harshly realistic look into America’s counterculture scene of the ‘70s. 

The plot of the film is this: A group of hippies, led by the menacing Horace Bones, come to rest in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Instead of renting a room like civilized folk, they squat in an abandoned house where they practice satanic rituals. You know, typical hippie stuff. When they get bored of drawing pentagrams and holding cool daggers, one of the members goes out and rapes a young woman. Her grandfather, a kindly old veterinarian, attempts to fight back against the hippies but ends up dosed with LSD for his trouble. 

The younger brother of the woman decides these weirdos have gone too far and acts out a very sensible and well-thought-out revenge plan—he gets a giant syringe full of blood from a rabid dog, injects the blood into meat pies and serves the treats to the hippies. 

This is where the hard science of the movie comes in. If a human ingests rabies-infected blood, they turn into gibbering maniacs with super strength and an unquenchable thirst for extreme violence. The hippies act more like the zombies from 28 Days Later than Crazy People, running around at high speed with their arms flailing as they attempt to decapitate/dismember/disembowel/generally brutalize the innocent townies.

Besides its painstakingly accurate depiction of hard science, the film’s major draw is the gore factor. It is outrageously violent for a 1970s film, and the violence is almost always hilarious (if you’re the sort of person who likes to laugh at ridiculous, low-budget violence). 

Another definitive fact about rabies that the film incorporates is hydrophobia. Since rabid animals stay away from water, the ravenous hippies are visibly terrified of it, lunging away from tossed pails of water in the way a vampire might recoil from garlic. There is a scene of the hippies being mortified by the existence of a small creek that is maybe one of my favorite scenes in independent horror. Ironic claims about its authenticity aside, the film shares a lot of DNA with zombie films such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead two years earlier, and you can also see its impact on later exploitation films such as Death Wish 3

Basically, any revenge movie that depicts the inner city as an apocalyptic wasteland where “good” (read: white) people go to die is carrying on I Drink Your Blood’s hysterical legacy. The band of hippie sort-of-zombies is led by an Indian man and an Asian woman, and the multiculturalism of their crew is absolutely supposed to be part of the reason they’re so scary. It’d be really offensive if it wasn’t so poorly executed. As it stands, the film is an enjoyably shitty moral panic film about the dangers of living in abandoned houses and doing Satanic stuff. I’d put it up there with classics of the genre like Reefer Madness.

You can buy the uncut version of the film on DVD from Amazon or stream it on Shudder.