'The Incredible Torture Show', retitled 'Bloodsucking Freaks' by Troma for its 1980s re-release, is a difficult film to rate. Technically, it is dreadful; amateurish filmmaking at its worst. It is also incredibly depraved and debases and insults women. But at the same time, there is a vein of black, black humour running through the amoral proceedings which makes the film entertaining in a very perverse sort of way.
Master Sardu (Seamus O'Brien) runs a theatre which offers a grand guignol show to the unsuspecting public. What they do not realise is that the murders 'depicted' on stage are actually real. Sardu keeps a group of naked women imprisoned backstage; these female actors are promoted on the film's poster as the 'caged sexoids'. I would love to hear feminist author Camille Paglia's take on this film! Upon the film's theatrical release in 1976, it was picketed by the women's group Women Against Pornography (WAP), who were outraged at the movie's blatant sexism and misuse of females. Along with the humour, there is a very nasty misogynistic streak about this film. A case in point: at one stage Sardu is eating his dinner. Sounds fairly innocent, right? It is, except that his 'table' is the back of a naked woman upon her hands and knees. To add insult to injury, Sardu has a candle burning, and its hot wax is running directly onto the poor woman's bare flesh. Then he slaps her irritably and tells her to keep still! A date movie this most definitely is not.
Niles McMaster appears as Tom Maverick, a professional footballer whose partner (Rita Montone), a ballet dancer, has been kidnapped by Sardu and his midget assistant Ralphus (Luis De Jesus, credited as Louie de Jesus). Sardu brainwashes her and forces her to dance in his twisted show. McMaster played Dominick 'Dom' Spages in Alfred Sole's underrated horror film 'Alice, Sweet Alice' AKA 'Communion' AKA 'Holy Terror', and Rita Montone appears as a hooker in the horrific 'Maniac'.
Sardu is also involved in white slavery, and at one point transacts business with a white slave dealer played by Alphonso DeNoble (credited simply as Alphonso). Like Niles McMaster, DeNoble was also in 'Alice, Sweet Alice'; he played the sweaty, obese landlord who is graphically stabbed to death.
'The Incredible Torture Show' is a notorious film - notorious for its graphic violence and relentless humiliation and torture of women. It deserves every bit of its notoriety. This film will offend and disgust, so proceed at your own risk. In one memorable scene, a disgraced doctor performs a little do-it-yourself brain surgery upon a hapless victim; this is just a taste of what to expect from this movie.
Do not worry, though, because the evil Sardu does get his comeuppance in the final reel. Just when you thought the film could not get any worse, we are treated to the coup de grace: a filthy, naked woman biting ravenously into a 'sandwich' whose meat is Sardu's severed penis! Like I said, proceed at your own risk.
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