Deathmaster (1972) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Quarry is a mysterious, articulate stranger who draws a cult like following of local hippies. Rather than showing them peace and love, he has more sinister plans for them, as he is a vampire.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • On a deserted beach somewhere near Topanga Canyon in southern California, a surfer comes upon a coffin-shaped box that has just washed ashore. When he opens the box, he is aghast at what he sees. He doesn't have time to contemplate it, however, before he is strangled by a tall, zombielike man with a misshapen face and an afro hairdo. Barbado [La Sesne Hilton] wordlessly drags the coffin to a pickup truck, loads it in the bed, and drives into Topanga. Meanwhile, Monk Reynolds [William Jordan], his girlfriend Esslin [Betty Anne Rees], and the half dozen members of his motorcycle gang are also tooling into Topanga on their motorbikes. Watching them are hippies Rona Ashby [Brenda Dickson-Weinberg] and her boyfriend, Pico [Bill Ewing].

    When Monk starts hassling Pop [John Fiedler], a serape-clad, aging hippie over the price of his necklaces at his sidewalk display, Pico comes between Pop and Monk. A few kung fu chops later, and it is obvious that Pico has the upper hand...until the "heat" suddenly appears. Monk and Pico run for the trees, Esslin and Rona right behind them. Now partners in crime, Pico and Rona invite Monk and Esslin to come home with them for dinner. Home is an enormous house on a cliff overlooking the beach. A dozen or so hippies live there, communal style, where they indulge in the arts, smoke a lot of pot, and sing angstful folk songs about how a man without a dream is like a willow floating on a stream or a piece of driftwood rotting on a lonely shore. After an evening of drinking wine and passing the bong, Monk goes outside to take a whizz and comes upon an empty coffin hidden in the trees. When he comes face-to-face with Barbado, he takes a few steps backwards and falls down the hill.

    A storm suddenly erupts, and the lights go off in the house. A window blows open, and the wind extinguishes all the candles. By the time the candles are relit, a stranger has joined them. He sits in the shadows, but it is easy to see that he is tall, bearded, with long dark hair and piercing eyes. He is wearing sandals and is dressed like a maharishi. He speaks with an air of authority about "being alive" and finding "a spark to ignite the fuel within." When he claps his hands and the lights come back on, everyone is dually impressed. The stranger introduces himself as Khorda. When invited to stay for dinner, Khorda admonishes the unwholesomeness of their food, the filthy condition of their house, and the importance of cleansing their blood and eating living food. Only then, he says, will they come alive and be deserving of their purpose. When Khorda rises to leave, the hippies beg him to stay because they dig what he has to say and want to hear more. When he finally does take his leave, Khorda walks toward the door but, rather than go through it, his body simply fades into nothingness. Groovy, man!

    The next day, the hippies clean house and stock up on bottled water and organic food. In the evening, they sit around the fireplace and listen spellbound to Khorda speak about flowers and eternity. The only one not grooving on Khorda is Monk. He tells Khorda pointblank that he doesn't buy his sweet talk and the way he has moved in and taken over the commune. Furthermore, he's going into town to buy some steak and whiskey, he says, and he wants Esslin to be ready to split when he gets back. They're going to cut out and blow this joint, he says. Esslin, however, has no desire to leave. When Khorda asks to speak to her alone, she willingly goes to him. When Khorda challenges her to settle for more in her life, she asks him to show her. When Khorda kisses her, she kisses him back. Then she notices that Khorda is not reflected in her bedroom mirror and starts to freak out. When Khorda sinks his fangs in her neck, she begins to scream. By the time Monk gets back to pick up Esslin, it's too late. Khorda attacks Monk, too.

    Meanwhile, Esslin's and Monk's screams have carried to the bathrooms where the hippies are getting ready for bed. When they try to leave the bathrooms to investigate, they find that they are locked in. When the doors finally unlock and they amass in the hallway wondering what happened, they see Esslin dancing to Barbado's conga drum while Khorda watches. Silence overtakes them and, like zombies, they are drawn into the dance...all except for Pico and Rona. Pico has realized that something strange is going on. He convinces Rona that they have to leave. Best to leave separately, he says, so that they are not noticed. Slowly, they make their way upstairs to get their stuff, but Kirk [Bobby "Boris" Pickett] intercepts Rona and tries to put the bite on her, and Esslin intercepts Pico. When Esslin bares her fangs at Pico, he runs away, ending up in a cavern of underground tunnels where he is apprehended by Barbado and chained by the wrists to the ceiling. Rona also makes it into the tunnels, but when she tries to free Pico, she is carried away by Barbado.

    Khorda joins Pico and attempts to talk him into joining with the secret of eternity, that is, after giving him a pep talk about the things he has seen in his long life -- the Aramaeans, Julius Csesar, the Crusades, Attila, Bonaparte, Stalin, Hitler. Pico refuses and, when Khorda walks away, Pico works his wrists free of the chains and attempts to make his way out of the tunnels. He ends up in a room containing a coffin in which he is horrifed to find Khorda. Pico slams the lid closed and backs up, his hand landing in a bowl of leeches which he has to pry off before he is confronted again by Barbado. Pico draws a cross on Barbado's cheek using the blood from his hands, Barbado sinks to the ground in pain, and Pico runs out the door, making his way to Pop's. When he asks Pop for help, however, Pop doesn't believe a word Pico says and merely gives him a tranquilizer and tells him to sleep it off.

    Pop changes his mind, however, when he finds that his dog has been vampirized, Monk's body is discovered on the bluff overlooking the beach, and two of the girls from the commune are seen walking zombielike down the street and wearing necklaces that Pop recognizes as being Druid blood ritual designs worn for protection by novice vampires who must venture out during the daylight. That night, Pico and Pop, accompanied by a policeman and a homocide detective, pay a visit to the commune to ask questions about Monk's death. Of course, Khorda denies knowing anything about it. When the detective asks whether Rona is being held against her will, Rona appears and denies it. When Pico tells how Barbado tied him up and then tries to show the bruises on his wrists, Khorda's gaze makes them mysteriously disappear.

    Pico and Pop return to Pop's house and scour his library for information about vampires. Pop finds a book that talks about an "incubation period" between the time a person is bitten by a vampire and actually turns into one. Because it doesn't say how long the incubation is, Pop agrees that they have to act immediately before it's too late. They sneak into the commune via the underground tunnels. As they get closer to the interior, they hear chanting. Some sort of ritual is taking place, and it looks like Rona is entranced and about to be sacrificed to the Unholy. As Pico and Pop watch from a balcony, Khorda bites Rona's neck and fills a cup with her blood, which he then proceeds to drink.

    Just then, Pico and Pop are grabbed by Barbado, but Pico breaks free and leaps over the balcony. He tries to wake up Rona, but she is unresponsive. Once again, Khorda extends a welcome to Pico and asks him to join the group in eternity. Once again, Pico refuses, so Khorda sics the vampire hippies on him. Suddenly, a clock is heard chiming 5 AM, and Khorda heads for his coffin, leaving Pico to the vampires. Pico eludes them and runs back down into the tunnels, Barbado in pursuit. Pico grabs a knife from a pile of tools and ropes it to a door handle. When Barbado comes running after him, Pico slams the door shut, and the knife impales Barbado. Next, he fashions a stake from a pole of wood and goes looking for Khorda's coffin.

    Pico finds the room that holds Khorda's coffin and thrusts the stake right through the top. A groan is heard. When Pico opens the coffin to peek at his handiwork, horror of horrors, he has staked Pop through the heart. Khorda steps out of the shadows, laughing maniacally. Pico tosses the bowl of leeches at Khorda, and a half dozen or so leeches attach themselves to Khorda's face. Khorda pulls them off, his face now dripping with blood. Khorda advances on Pico but, instead, falls on the stake and is destroyed. PIco races upstairs to save Rona, and finds that all of the vampire hippies have turned to dust, leaving Rona lying alone on the altar. As Pico leans over Rona, telling her that she is going to be alright, Rona also crumbles to dust. Pico screams.

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