Cinema Enigmatico #2 – The Chooper (1971) aka Blood Shack

Dumpster diving in the dollar bin at second hand shops, you never know what gems you might find at Cinema Enigmatico – Italian for Obscure Cinema! This week’s installment is a horrible mess of a film that makes Manos, The Hands of Fate look like Treasure of the Sierra Madre!

The Chooper (1971 – aka Blood Shack)

Okay gang, yes for my second review I’m really going to slum it here. I feel like I watched this film so that you don’t have to, so I should be honored as a hero. Or a masochist. Like many of the ones you’ll find in this column, I found this one on a rare DVD in a dollar bin at a second hand store. And boy is it a stinker!

There’s this shack (for lack of a better term) in the middle of nowhere in the American desert. There’s a dude who holds a shovel and stands near it, but never seems to work. It seems that his only job is to keep the kids away from it. Particularly two little girls who keep running to the house, driving him crazy as he keeps screaming at them to keep away from that house because “bad things happen there”. No sooner has he shooed them away, a car pulls up with three college kids. Two guys and a girl, arguing about the shack. The girl is convinced that it’s haunted and wants to spend the night. The guys don’t and dump her off, speeding away. The girl is left with only her sleeping bag.

Daniel, the dude with the shovel, warns her about the bad things in the house, but the girl insists that she’ll be fine. She goes in and, in perhaps what I thought was the scariest part of the film, she strips down to her undies and lays on a NASTY OLD MATTRESS while UNDER her sleeping bag, not even IN IT to avoid touching the mattress!!! Ewwww!!!! The mattress even has bloodstains!! Needless to say, a masked killer with a sword called “The Chooper” enters, chases her around the house for a while and kills her. The next day, Daniel finds her body and flips out, muttering to himself that he warned her that she’d be killed! For unknown reasons, he takes the body and buries it, stealing what little cash she had.

Soon, we see Carol, played by director Ray Dennis Steckler’s wife Carolyn Brandt. She’s just flown in, and we learn through narration that she inherited the ranch upon which the shack is situated, and that Daniel is the caretaker. Upon arriving at the ranch, she is immediately accosted by local real estate mogul, Charlie, who insists that she sell him the ranch. To the point of obnoxiousness. Most of the film is told through her narration, and we are treated to long, boring scenes of a local rodeo intended to pad out the film from a painful 60 minutes to a nauseating 70 minutes so the film could be distributed.

While, I know that I need to watch these films in there entirety in order to provide a proper review, I have to say that it did hold me throughout because I wanted to see what would happen. I will admit to fast forwarding through the final rodeo installment. Sue me. It’s got that sort of 70s creepy low budget feel that makes you feel uncomfortable during the whole thing, and you want to take a shower when it’s over. If watched in the dark at night (not TOO late, or you’ll fall asleep), this stinker is a fun pot boiler. The art on the opening sequences and end credits are far better than the film, and harken back to the EC Comic book days.

Chock full of bad dialogue, bad camera work (rumor has it that Steckler only had two lights to use on this film), and just all around baddy badness, the Chooper or Blood Shack should only be viewed by a seasoned B-Movie watcher, and even then you should have a hand held video game on standby for the rodeo scenes. Or you could just fast forward through them like I did. It’s truly 70 minutes that you’ll never get back. Despite being directed by the legendary Steckler, who achieved fame through the marginally better film “The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed up Zombies”, you are warned to watch this film at your own peril!