Sunshine Gore In ’64: Awash With The Love Goddesses Of Blood Island

Hot sand scorches the feet. Surf mist flutters at the eyelashes. The faint sounds of tremolo guitars blanket the heavens. To the left, a motel pool. To the right, a pile of pig intestines and four gallons of fake blood. It’s Miami Beach circa 1964. What a beautiful sight.

Dave Friedman never heard of it. Ditto with William Grefe. And Doris Wishman? She was too busy to take notice. Yet, there it was, failing silently in Miami Beach during Florida’s exploitation boom of the early 1960s — a film lost for over thirty years, despite being the first non-H.G. Lewis response to Blood Feast‘s pop-art-gore revolution. This is Love Goddesses Of Blood Island. Prepare to be Flinked.

Richard S. Flink was a building contractor living in Miami, Florida in the early 1960s. As fate would have it, his heart just wasn’t in blueprints and lumber. By day, the cement truck called, but by night, Flink had his eyes on cinema. After operating a successful drive-in as a hobby for several years, Flink made the leap into independent film production. One of the most absurd motion pictures of 1964 was the result. But nobody saw it.

Love Goddesses Of Blood Island aka Six She’s And A He was the first production from Richard Flink’s newly formed Thunderbird International. It was also his first (and last) foray into directing (under the name Gordon H. Heaver). Although Thunderbird would go on to produce and distribute William Grefe’s legendary Sting Of Death/Death Curse Of Tartu double feature, as well as the awe-inspiring The Weird World Of LSD, Flink’s masterpiece simply vanished into thin air after a handful of regional dates. To this day, a complete print is not known to exist.

Three decades after production wrapped, Something Weird Video chanced upon a 28 minute, condensed version of Love Goddesses Of Blood Island when they acquired the rights to William Grefe’s Sting Of Death. The film was released as a supplement on Something Weird’s Sting Of Death/Death Curse Of Tartu DVD in 2002. Despite a low profile release, this unearthing was a coup in the land of gore-trash enthusiasts the world over. Preceding The Undertaker And His Pals from 1965, Love Goddesses exists today as the earliest full color, extreme gore, garage sale rip-off of 1963′s Blood Feast in cinematic history. Scratch your head or don’t. Either way, you will be entertained.

“Later, I dozed again, praying that the girl had been satisfied, but I wasn’t to be that lucky. She awoke me again and again during the night, never permitting me more than one hour solid sleep!”
– Fred Rogers, Astronaut

Love Goddesses is a tiny treasure of unknown, sun-baked trash. It’s a quick blast of buoyant scenery, hidden sex, z-rate Exotica, tongue in cheek nonsense, and stop-ya-in-yer-tracks gore. It’s also a surreal refuge from every day stresses, an island artifact of nickel and dime proportions that aims to shock, humor, and constantly baffle. The proof’s in the astroturf.

Ripping a chapter out of a generic, postwar men’s adventure magazine, the film imparts the (un)fortunate situation of “astronaut” Fred Rogers (Bill Rogers from A Taste Of Blood). Rogers lands on a tropical beach. Whump! Fred, captured as a sex slave servant, services Desiree, Pandora, and Aphrodite. Grunt! Mr. Rogers witnesses alarming acts of mannequin gore set to echo-drenched flashbacks, all while tapping a set of bongos beside a motel swimming pool. Puke! Pigs roast. The girls imitate humming birds. True love goes on and on, but the power of a bloody sponge-rock conquers all. How do we know? Theme song crooner Neil Patrick tells us so: “Love Goddess, a temptation I can’t rise above…”

The jagged mix of Orgy Of The Dead‘s confounding song and dance sequences and the harsh-yet-dreamy violence of The Wizard Of Gore is enough to solidify Love Goddesses a respectful rank in the filmbook of Black Hole, USA. Lucky for us, the skills of Richard Flink and crew (most of whom were recycled for Sting Of Death) tiptoed on the verge of absolute confusion. That only makes it better. Scenery slices back and forth between hidden beaches and not so hidden sets, complete with decor that was probably purchased in a hobby shop. The camera composes entirely at random, struggling with focus and excelling in the art of placing the camera seven miles away from things that are happening. The lunatic gore effects from later sleaze tycoon Harry Kerwin (God’s Bloody Acre) trump his work in Two Thousand Maniacs! from the same year. Screeching post-dubs succeed in making women sound like injured bobcats. And then, there’s the comedy.

The night Blood Feast offended hundreds of people during an unassuming drive-in premiere in Peoria, Illinois, laughs were nowhere to be found. Critics today might try to tell you otherwise, but we all know they’re nuts. Although H.G. Lewis would later master juxtaposing black comedy with severe violence in The Gore Gore Girls (1972), that combination was unheard of in 1963. Love Goddesses, with its brassy camera mugs, choice dialogue (“They were like savage wildcats!”), and blithe end-title card, was obviously created with this concept in mind. Laughs and shocks had co-existed peacefully in film for decades before, but Richard Flink was hip enough to recognize the potential success in linking the two with a more “modern”, Mad Magazine-esque approach.

One year later, The Undertaker And His Pals would liberate the shock-laffs concept and run with it. The film was shot independently in Hollywood, then picked up for distribution in 1966 by the legendary Ted V. Mikels as part of his ingenious “The Three Dimensions Of Shock” package (along with The Corpse Grinders and The Embalmer). Undertaker stepped up the absurd comic content, but lost none of the forceful bloodshed. Today, it’s an inarguable masterstroke of quirky trash weirdness and a wonderful, 63 minute time capsule of underground entertainment. Richard Flink was on the right path, but history wasn’t.

After the success of Sting Of Death in 1965, Richard S. Flink and his wife moved to Los Angeles with a pocketful of dreams. He would never produce or direct another motion picture again. William Grefe hasn’t spoken with Flink in over twenty-five years and the folks at Something Weird have no leads on his whereabouts. Does a full cut of this film exist? Did Flink have a laundry list of now-unknown credits? How was Love Goddesses lost for three decades? Who knows. The full story behind Flink’s adventures in the 1960s may be lost forever, but that’s not so important.

Love Goddesses Of Blood Island is a giddy ticket to the alleviation of life’s frustrations, if only for 28 minutes. Like a Gin Fizz on a hot summer night, it can really hit the spot. Viewed today, this oddity is an integral cog in the early gore insurgency that would later bear bizarre classics such as Carnival Of Blood and Dr. Gore. So congrats, world — you’ve just been Flinked.

SPECIAL THANKS
William Grefe, Ted V. Mikels, and Lisa Petrucci of Something Weird Video

WORKS CITED
Curry, Christopher Wayne. A Taste Of Blood: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis. England, UK: Creation Books, 1999. Clifford, Michelle and Landis, Bill. Sleazoid Express. New York, NY: Fireside, 2002.