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Blood Shack (1971)

August 11th, 2011 by unkle lancifer · 21 Comments

I have not watched BLOOD SHACK since I was about 15 and the reason for that is because I have always regarded it as the worst film I had ever seen in my life. Remarkably, not even 2009’s THE UNBORN could alter that opinion. The other night though while perusing free viewing opportunities on CRACKLE I noticed it there, staring at me like an orphaned injured kitten and I had to see it again. Could it really be as wretched as my brain recalled? After all, my brain usually doesn’t know what it’s talking about. Well, it turns out it is as bad as my brain said but not nearly as painful. I’ve either lowered my standards considerably or developed a sense of humor. It’s a terrible movie no doubt, but watching it fully prepared for the awfulness makes a big difference. What once filled me with rage now elicits only sympathy. It may be the worst movie ever made but that doesn’t mean it’s the least entertaining.

BLOOD SHACK is hardly a movie. It’s more like a swept together pile of footage. When it first snuck its way into my life, it was wearing a nifty VHS box that made it look like a current eighties slasher flick even though the old coot had been lingering about for more than a decade. Strangely, it seems less dated now than it did back then. For instance, the weird seventies wardrobes which were so alien to my then neon MTV eyes look like standard hipster-wear now. The overall dusty drab feel of the film has benefited with age too. Back then it just read as ratty but now that gritty dustbowl esthetic is pretty much au currant. I hate to admit it but I kind of now dig the near constant horizon line and the off-putting minimalism. Really, the sun flare happy playing field here is not so far off from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Of course that movie had an actual story to tell and didn’t pad its running time with rodeo footage. Yes, rodeo footage.

So my problem with this film is no longer that it is scrap heap cheap and alarmingly barebones, my issue is with the fact that it is an unstructured blob of random pointlessness. It’s pretty clear that there was no script involved and that the director allowed the actors to wing it and wing it poorly. One character wants to buy the shack and that’s all he talks about, one character doesn’t want to sell the shack and that’s all she talks about and one character warns folks to stay away from the shack ad nauseam. The only break from that pattern is provided by a our wispy narrator who sounds like she is breaking out of an eleven-year coma and offers little worthwhile information, unless you felt the need to know that the pony’s name at the rodeo was “Peanuts.” Truth told Peanuts the pony is the lone convincing presence in the movie and I was happy to see that her or his name found its way into the end credits.(Peanuts’ IMDb page HERE.)

The theoretical scares of BLOOD SHACK are provided by “The Chooper” an Indian spirit who protects the title shack with a sword and black pajamas. Chooper tends to yell as if he’s stubbed his toe and is partial to flamboyant arm flailing daytime attacks. My horror starved teenage self found “The Chooper” to be unbearably lame but now I see he’s pretty hilarious. In the same vein, the movie itself is not the whirlpool of depressive ineptness I once thought; it’s actually somewhat lovably maladroit. It made me laugh out loud which is more than I can say for DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS.

BLOOD SHACK was directed by RAY DENNIS STECKLER who has acquired a cult following thanks to B-grade goofs like THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES (who stopped living and became mixed up zombies) but even his most devoted followers can be forgiven for drawing a line in the sand against Chooper’s lackadaisical exploits. As lousy as this movie is though, I think STECKLER should be given some credit for stumbling early upon a few elements that would later prove to be highly effective in future better films by other people.

The good news is that I finally after all these years found out what was going on with all that pesky rodeo footage. STECKLER’s original cut of the film was only a merciful 60 minutes long and he was required to add ten minutes more to play the film in drive-ins and theaters. I guess I can forgive that. This is a hyper low budget movie that just barely scrambled itself into existence so no harm, no foul. It’s terribly done in every possible way but somewhat endearingly so and at least it did not cost millions of dollars to make this mess. (What’s your excuse THE UNBORN?).

There’s no way I could recommend BLOOD SHACK and realistically expect anyone to ever take my advise again, so I won’t but I will say that there are tiny sparkles of pure quaintness to behold amongst the sub par, brain numbing wreckage. It’s an annoying fiasco mostly but it doesn’t have a cynical bone in its body and now I find I’ve grown slightly and embarrassingly fond of this crappy movie that I once hated with a passion. I was warned that “The Chooper” would get me and I guess the bastard eventually did. Really, I blame Peanuts.

Tags: General Horror · I Have No Idea What This Is · The Seventies mushed my head

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Count me in as a Steckler fan who knows his films aren’t that good. Although I think the Thrill Killers is pretty friggin’ amazing, most of his films are really bad. The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher? Ugh, but also awwww! I can’t help it, his films just call to me.

    I have not seen Blood Shack, yet I have been totally aware of those American flag pants for some time. I saw a pic of the actress in that outfit (is it Carolyn Brandt in those pants?) in Incredibly Strange Films, I believe, and fell instantly in love with them! Must see this! 🙂

  • 2 NathanNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Stabbin’ and a-screamin’, runnin’ and a-yellin’ at the BLOOD SHACK!

  • 3 TaylorNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

    You’re WHAT?!



  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Those pants were a large part of why I decided to stop worrying and love this bomb. I dig Carolyn Brandt’s voice too. She sounds totally hypnotized. Both of the director’s daughters also appear in this and the younger one delivers an ad lib chooper back story that is so funny. Jason Wayne as Daniel is pretty awesome too. He’s totally pimping in a midriff baring miniature jean jacket. This movie is sorta like Ed Woods meets Sam Shepard I think. I later found out that Blood Shack actually was filmed with “loose ends” (scraps of left over film) from RDS’ previous movies. Pretty cool.

    Ugh, I hate rodeos though. Why ya gotta chase a poor calf around? That’s just mean.

    Now thanks to you guys this song will be stuck in my head… Weird Al really needs to do a “Blood Shack” version stat.

  • 5 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

    There’s pretty much no way I could not watch this.

    I was particularly taken by the part in the trailer where the Chooper sneaks around like a chimpanzee.

  • 6 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I like how they matched the color of the puppy to the color of Peanuts.

    Also, I’m in love with her belt.

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I’m thinking we may need to do a “Fashions of Blood Shack” post. Somebody needs to bring back this hat.

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

  • 9 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I want to see a clip of that ab libbed story, pretty please.

    Also – I want a pair of bell bottoms so badly. Not American flag ones though. Regular old blue jean bell bottoms are fine. Though I wouldn’t say no to a pair in a dark purple either. Just can’t find any in plus sizes. (I hear Woman Within has some but WW’s clothing sucks more then WalMart’s.)

  • 10 David YoungNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Wow! I thought I was the only one who adored this film! My two pals and I rented this from a 3rd rate video store in Michigan way back in high school and laughed ourselves stupid watching it. We’ve always known it as “Chooper” cause that was the VHS title on the box. Great memories with this one.

  • 11 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Man, you ain’t kiddin’ about DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS. Absolutely horrible movie. So much potential, so much disappointment. I paid a whole $1 to rent it from RedBox and still felt ripped off.

    Couple of quick observations. That screencap of the guy with the shovel totally looks like a Dali painting with its barren landscape, long-limbed, disjointed inhabitant and out of place prop (shovel). The hat you like is a bowler that you’ve probably seen in innumerable Magritte paintings. Fan of surrealism, I am. 😛

  • 12 smidget28No Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    By any chance is this streaming on Netflix?

  • 13 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    David Y,

    It’s a good thing I gave this one a second chance. I wasn’t able to appreciate it when I was younger like you! It really is hard to resist after you just give in to how bad it is. Long live the Chooper!


    Right? We watched DFS on HBO completely blank faced. Maybe the unfunniest movie ever. I’m surprised anyone could get through the script much less film it.

    I always thought Blood Shack was a bad looking movie but no longer. I couldn’t stop taking screengrabs because there was such a strange raw beauty to so much of it. That lone stick figure image in the desert being a great example. You’re right, that is a Bowler hat! Clockwork Orange! Love the Magritte and Dali references. i’m thinking of just grabbing an image from BS and making a painting out of it…


    I have not seen it on NF but you can watch BS on Crackle for free here…

    You’ve been warned!

    also, ShriekShow put out a nice DVD for BS with tons of extras but the cover is just terrible. I don’t know what they were thinking.

  • 14 craigNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I feel your pain on this one. I don’t think I could revisit it. But I’ve gotta say that it’s a bit intriuging to WANT to see it. It really feels like this one might have something up its sleeve. In the way that Hitchcock’s ROPE exists with only a handful of cuts in one room, or Ryan Reynolds being buried for an entire movie in BURIED, it almost makes a person wonder if maybe, just maybe, the idea of a horror film shot almost entirely in and around a very-unatmospheric one-room shack in broad daylight would turn out to be this great experiment in creating terror and suspense from an inpossible source. Alas, it’s every bit as bad as you’d think it would be.

  • 15 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm


    For all of its problems Blood Shack does have the ability to alter space and time. It seems like it’s 3 hours long but it’s only 70 minutes. Plus, the shack itself looks like about the size of one room on the outside but has many rooms and hallways on the inside. There’s definitely something up it’s sleeve! I want to remake this movie and explain that the shack is a dimensional portal. Also I’d naturally include Peanut’s back story.

  • 16 Princess FluffernutterNo Gravatar // Aug 12, 2011 at 2:45 am

    The Blood Shack is a little ol’ place where…
    we can all get murdered…
    Blood Shack, baby!!

    Bang bang bang on the door, baby!

    Knock a little louder, Chooper!

  • 17 LeobenNo Gravatar // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:42 am

    “I’d naturally include Peanut’s back story.”

    Peanuts is The Arm, and he wants his garmonbozia.

  • 18 RedDevilNo Gravatar // Aug 12, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Worst movie ever? I don’t know about that, have you ever seen Killer Klowns from Kansas on Krack… very bad movie, LOL check this out..
    even IMDB doesn’t have a link on it. it’s that bad!!!

  • 19 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm


    Whoa, Killer klowns from kansas ALSO has a rodeo as a major theme. I’m stunned.

    Ya know, I should not throw around The term “worst movie” so freely.

    I totally forgot about Axe’em aka “The Weekend It lives”!!! That’s another movie that I initially was mortified by and then later learned to love.

  • 20 knobgobblerNo Gravatar // Aug 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I’ve kinda always been curious about Blood Shack.
    Back when I was in undergrad RDS came to teach at our film department. I think I was probably one of a small handful there who knew who he was at the time…
    The school ended up letting him go because they found out he’d been doing something naughty on the weekends with the department’s film equipment (and some of the students).
    We went looking for some of these Cindy Lou Sutters projects and ended up at a shop with a tiny room of ‘normal’ movies in the front and a much larger porn section in the back. The funny thing was that most all of the front room movies were Steckler’s older films. There must have been 20 VHS copies of Blood Shack filling out the bogus shelf space and a big poster of it on the wall.
    Somehow I never got around to watching it until now…

  • 21 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Aug 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Man – I kinda dug this crappy movie.

    But, you know, Daniel was kind of a Chooper enabler.

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