Several Indian actors have worked in Hollywood before the likes of Irrfan and Priyanka Chopra. The question is, in what role?

Take, for instance, Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury. The classically trained dancer plays the head preacher of a shamanistic cult in the 1970 B-movie I Drink Your Blood. Going by the mind-numbing name Horace Bones, Chowdhury proclaims himself as the son of Satan. He spit-roasts rodents for hungry (and naked) followers, urges them to drink the blood of chickens from a chalice, and sets the stage for cannibalism and excessive violence, both favoured elements of exploitation films in the 1970s. How Chowdhury got the part is a mystery, but his taut body, which moves with the grace of a gazelle, and his hissing dialogue (“I am going to skin your ass alive!”) are hard to ignore.

A trailer of ‘I Drink Your Blood’.

Directed by David E Durston, I Drink Your Blood is said to have been inspired by the exploits of Charles Manson and his followers. It is the story of a Satan-worshipping hippie cult of marauders called Sados, who follow a bizarre set of ritualistic codes. Any member of the group who does not follow the rules is punished with extreme torture. The Sados rampage through a town, but meet their match in the form of a young boy who fights back after his grandfather is assaulted.

Chowdhury was born in Chennai in 1930. He wanted to be a professional boxer, but injuries (including the chipping of his front teeth from a punch in the ring) led him to instead train as a dancer. Chowdhury learnt bharatnatyam, kathak, kathakali and Manipuri from several gurus before setting up his own outfit called Bhaskar & Company.

Chowdhury relocated to New York City in 1955 and appeared in television shows, plays and movies, beginning with producer-director Ismail Merchant’s short film The Creation of Woman (1961).

I Drink Your Blood is the only full-length feature in which Chowdhury gets top billing. The film got an X rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Some scenes were later altered to qualify for an R rating. A uncensored version was released in 2002 to capitalise on the film’s popularity with horror fans. The full movie can be viewed here.

In 1977, Chowdhury was crippled after a fall during rehearsals for a performance. Confined to a wheelchair, Chowdhury pursued his interest in painting until his death in 2003.