on May 5, 2005
This is one of those few movies where everything that everyone says about it is precisely true: Utterly barebones production, flatly pathetic acting, stilted and pointless dialogue, and lots and lots of ultra-phony gore. Of course, this is pretty undisputedly the first real gore film, so horror fans pretty much have to see this. And, even if it weren't so important historically it would be worth seeing anyway, cause it's pretty damn cool either way.
Fortunately, in making the first gore film they didn't go halfway. Sure, there are tons of films which are gorier then it now, it's still gory enough that if it were redone, shot for shot with realistic, modern effects, it wouldn't be allowed an R rating in a million years. You got flaying, leg severing, heart extracting, tongue ripping, brain, um, snatching etc. And, while the gore effects are incredibly dated, they aren't quite as cheap and old as I would have imagined. The blood itself actually holds up fairly well, and looks better than much of the stage blood you'd see over the next 20 years or so. It's actually red! It is also delightfully shameless, perpetually leering at the simplistic effects in a way that makes Fulci look almost reserved by comparison. For example, fairly late in the film there is a 42 second pan over a flaying victim. (i.e. someone just covered with fake blood) 42 seconds may not sound that long when I just say it, but when you're actually watching it it's pretty damn funny, and seems to go on forever. It's also got some odd quirks, such as how virtually all the violence is performed in utter silence, with no sound effects, only music. It manages to make these scenes somehow poignant, in spite of the overall laughable nature of the project.
The film only gets 3 stars because much of the terrible acting and dialogue grows somewhat tiresome after a while. There are only a few topics: The cops whine about how they can't catch the mad butcher who is killing women, and stealing their body parts, and the civilains whine about there's a killer out there, and then reflect happily on the party they plan to have that Saturaday. (Turns out that the guy who's catering the party, Fuad Ramses, is the killer, and is gonna feed them the parts he stole. What a coincidence.) The directing is also amusingly flat. The camera hardly ever moves, nor do the actors. They just stand there, statue-stiff, delivering there lines. It's also got a fun soundtrack, with endless thumping tympani and cheesy organs and such. Lotsa people are irritated by it, but I find it quite amusing.
Yeah, you know if you wanna see this or not. So do it.
on March 2, 2000
"Blood Feast" is the most famous work of exploitation auteur Herschell Gordon Lewis. Released in 1963, it is considered the first slasher film, the one that spawned all of the imitators: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Friday the 13th", etc. Despite (or because of) its questionable acting and really fake blood, it is a classic.
Something Weird Video has given "Blood Feast" a great tribute with its DVD version. A beautiful print of the film was used, all of the garish colors are presented in their full glory. It contains one of the most interesting audio commentaries on a DVD that I have ever listened to. Director Herschell Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman provide insights into everything you've ever wanted to know about "Blood Feast" - the casting, the special effects, the creation of Lewis' signiature music score, and much more. There are so many great anecdotes shared on the commentary: how Pine Sol was used to get rid of the smell of the sheep tongue (used for the infamous tongue removal scene) since it was being stored in a refrigerator and the power went out, how they had to spend money on a freeze frame at the optical effects lab because an actress pretending to be dead couldn't hold her breath (you can see her failed attempts in the collection of nearly 50-minutes of outtakes included on the DVD), a pizza parlor was used for the scene where the maniacal Fuad Ramses cooks a human leg in an oven, and how they first realized the film was going to be a phenomenon when they got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to its Peoria, Illinois drive-in premiere. P.S. - Bonus for trivia buffs: Robert Sinise, the editor of "Blood Feast", is the father of actor Gary Sinise.
The DVD of "Blood Feast" is a must own for fans of the film and film buffs thanks to the great quality of the film to DVD transfer and the extras included by Something Weird Video.
on January 5, 2005
When I first heard of this movie, I didn't know what to expect. Sure the description of the movie says "nothing so appaling in the annals of horror" and it's extremely shocking and gory. In my mind I was thinking this movie was made in 1963 how gory can it be? Well to say the least I was impressed and suprised by how gorey the killing scenes are.
Mrs. Fremont wants to do something special for her daughters' party. Knowing her daughter is deeply interested in egyptian culture she hires Fuad Ramses to cater the party. He begins preparing the "Blood Feast" by murdering young women and taking parts of they're body to add to the feast.
The acting is pretty bad, it's actually comical, the story is pretty weak as well and yes the blood looks like bright red paint, but come on, this movie was made over 40 years ago, I'm suprised this was even shown at any drive in movie back then. Sure the effects are dated but no gore hound should be disappointed! As some have said before me. This movie is where it all started. I recommend this movie to the avid horror fan!
on December 13, 1999
Just about every gorehound and exploitation film buff knows about this one because it's considered by many as the first gore movie ever made (it was actually FIEND WITHOUT A FACE which started it all but don't let that get to you). Advertising salesman and english professer, Herschell Gordon Lewis directed Playboy-playmate, Connie Stevens (despite her good looks she's a REALLY bad actress) as a bimbo-ish history student who shows a lot of intrest in Ancient Egyptian history. Connie's birthday is coming up soon and her mum wants to suprise her with an Egyptian meal. She go's down to the store and asks the sinister shop-owner (who trys his best to put on a Bela Lugosi-type voice) what he can do. To prepare the feast the shop-owner has to go around dismembering young girls. My favourite scene involves a teenager crying his heart out after his girlfriend gets it from the shop-owner: his crying is so fake that your pants will be dripping after the film is over. This was a drive-in killer, by the way and usually played in a double-bill with H.G. Lewis's 2000 MANIACS. Look out for some other great H.G. Lewis titles such as SCUM OF THE EARTH, COLOR ME BLOOD RED, THE GRUSOME TWOSOME, A TASTE OF BLOOD and THE GORE-GORE GIRLS which are all avalible on Something Weird.
on March 18, 2016
Very good Lewis film. As usual full of gore and mayhem. Girls get missing and end up ghastly victims.The ending is well worth waiting for. This original is better than the sequel. However watch the sequel. It has its moments too.
In 1963 Herschell Gordon Lewis, an independent filmmaker best known for making limited release "cutie" pictures, changed forever the face of American cinema when he released "Blood Feast." This film, as low budget as you could possibly get, heralded the era of the gore film. While it would be quite some time before Hollywood caught on to the fact that certain segments of the movie going public hungered for films containing nauseating scenes of explicit violence, H.G. Lewis took one look at the receipts for "Blood Feast" and decided he better quickly make another movie similar to this one. What followed was a series of gruesome zero budget shockers, films like "The Wizard of Gore," "A Taste of Blood," "2000 Maniacs," "Color Me Blood Red," and "The Gruesome Twosome." Lewis lensed the downright offensive "The Gore-Gore Girls" before retiring from the film business in 1972 in order to devote his time to join the advertising industry. It wasn't until 2002 that the director returned to form with "Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat," a movie which proved beyond a doubt that the Godfather of Gore still has what it takes to gross out an audience.
"Blood Feast" introduces us to a cast of intriguing characters set against lush, expensive set pieces crafted by the best designers money could buy in 1963. Moreover, the actors employed by Lewis represent the cream of Hollywood talent, surpassing the likes of Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn, and nearly any other legendary thespians imaginable.
This is zero budget schlock, folks, the sort of movie you would make on a home movie camera if you didn't think your parents would ground you for wasting film stock. What we get in "Blood Feast" is an insane Egyptian caterer named Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold) lurching around slaughtering local ladies in order to prepare a feast made out of their body parts to fulfill some sick ritual to the goddess Ishtar. Ramses intends to present his bloody course at the wedding party of a brainless young lady (played by Connie Mason, an actress with the allure of a speed bump) until the local cops step in and end his bloody spree (Lewis regular Bill Kerwin plays one of the police officers). There isn't anything more to it than that. Well, there are a few killings, gruesome little scenes like the trepanning on the beach, the tongue extraction, and the flashback to the Ishtar ritual where a guy in some cheesy get up removes what looks like a heart from some woman's chest. But you're not really interested in any of those scenes, are you?
Of course you are! The ONLY reason a viewer would submit themselves to the agony of a H.G. Lewis film is to see the gore! The incredibly lame acting, the wooden pacing, the slipshod editing, and the brain numbing dialogue certainly wouldn't pack in the crowds. Yes, the gore is a lot of fun here, with some of Lewis's best grue scenes ever gracing the hallowed halls of "Blood Feast." The drooping tongue alone should secure this guy a place in the pantheon of gore cinema. Still, fans that know and love Herschell like I do get a kick out of the other aspects of his films. I loved the soundtrack to this schlockfest, a mix of monotonous drumbeats, strings, and hypercheesy flashes of organ during those scenes where something "important" happens. As good as the soundtrack sounds here (!), the acting really grabbed my attention. Kerwin gives one of his worst performances here as the cop who wouldn't recognize a clue if it came up and tore his tongue out. Connie Mason turns in a bravura performance as the young airhead whose mother hires Fuad Ramses to cater her wedding party. Sweet, seductive Connie couldn't act her way into a paper bag, let alone out of one. If you can keep a straight face when you notice her reading dialogue off of cue cards, you are a bigger man than I. And that guy crying on the beach! Oh man, my friends, OH MAN!
I guess we should not express too much surprise that the first gore film ever made looks like the mess that is "Blood Feast." An unpopular genre like this one would never draw big buck investors or heavy studio support from Hollywood. Even today, the gore film--an extreme gore film--tends to rely on a miniscule budget compared to most other movies in different genres. After viewing many of Lewis's films I still cannot figure out how in the heck he convinced people to play these atrocities anywhere in the country. I understand the lure of a buck provides incentives aplenty to screen even the most egregious tripe, but the sordid gore in a Lewis film pushes the envelope beyond the bursting point. The director has stated on several occasions that censors did hack his films to pieces in some regions, but many prints made it through unscathed. How? In 1963? I wish I could go back in time and see "Blood Feast" in a theater just so I could watch the audience reactions.
The DVD edition of "Blood Feast" is one of the best Lewis discs available. You get an entertaining commentary track with Lewis and his partner David Friedman, stills aplenty, nearly fifty minutes of silent outtakes, a trailer, and an odd short film about carving meat (no joke!) starring Bill Kerwin and Harvey Korman (!). Parts of the film look magnificent for such an ancient motion picture, while other parts look like they went through a washing machine. Still, the gore comes through in bright color, no amount of poor picture quality could mar the ghastly acting, and the soundtrack sounds great. Get it, watch it, love it!
I had seen this before, but remembered very little about "Blood Feast". I know it's status as the "first splatter film", and figured with Halloween right around the corner it would be a good time to revisit Herschell Gordon Lewis' film.
Clocking in at just over an hour, "Blood Feast" is actually a slog to get through. Imagine an Ed Wood film with the gore quotient upped. Poor acting, poor direction, a punishingly awful score and a thread-bare plot make for a pretty dull movie viewing experience. The entire film is based on the idea that an Egyptian caterer is rolling around town slicing off pieces of various girls to use in a sacrificial feast to the goddess Ishtar.
The only draw to this film is the gore angle, and while it must have been pretty shocking in 1963, it just doesn't hold up today. I would give this a higher score if it were "so over the top it was funny", and there are a few scenes where I chuckled, but overall the film is just lifeless and dull.
I you're a die hard horror fan, then I recommend giving "Blood Feast" a view, if nothing else than to see the original "splatter" movie, but for anyone else, give this one a pass.
Blood Feast, the brain child of goremeister Herschell Gordon Lewis is one of the most important horrible movies ever made. Without question, the movie really, really stinks in more ways than I would have thought possible, but this, ladies and gentlemen, 1963's Blood Feast, gave birth to the blood and gore genre we know and love today. One man, H.G. Lewis, decided he was going to make a statement; he was going to shock people; he was going to give people gore as they had never seen it before; nothing could stop him, not the atrocious script, not the mind bogglingly bad actors, not his insistence to never shoot a scene more than three times no matter how awful it came out, and not the lack of any funds whatsoever; as long as Lewis could afford barrels of Karo syrup, he was happy. Looking back now, it's pretty hard to believe that this level of gore actually shocked people in the early 1960s, but history tells us that it did. Believe me, we've come a long way since then, but it was H.G. Lewis who blazed the trail we tread today.
On the face of it, Blood Feast would seem to have some good things going for it: a catered feast secretly prepared with human blood and body parts, the influence of an ancient Egyptian religious rite, a number of dead bodies, and even a Playboy playmate in the form of Connie Mason (Miss June 1963). Despite all this, though, the movie drops an H bomb from the very first moment. Plot-wise, you have a series of gruesome murders striking fear all over town, with the killer bagging nubile young women at a rate of 3-4 a week. From each victim he takes a different body part (each time it looks like intestines to me, yet it can be an eyeball, an arm, a heart, whatever). The killer needs these "ingredients" so that he can bring the blood-thirsty goddess Ishtar back to life. The police are clueless, and I do mean clueless; they smoke cigarettes and sit at their desks as hard as they possibly can - heck, the chief even bangs his hand on the desk every now and again - but they just can't come up with a single clue (largely because they can't recognize a clue if it falls on top of them like a ton of bricks). Meanwhile, a wealthy woman is planning for her daughter's birthday celebration and, as a special surprise, she hires Fuad Ramses to cater the party. Ramses promises her an authentic Egyptian feast, and this idea goes over like gangbusters because daughter Suzette just so happens to be attending weekly lectures on ancient Egyptian cults. Suzette also happens to be the girl of one of the town's only two detectives, so you see how all of this starts fitting together.
While the gore is pretty unspectacular from our modern viewpoint, Lewis succeeds quite well at times. We don't actually get to see the actual killings, of course, but there are plenty of shots of our killer pulling out parts of human bodies in his blood-soaked hands, mixing up a batch of young woman blood soup, hacking off limbs and such, and of course cooking such delicacies. Lewis makes a point of admiring his gruesome handiwork, oftentimes panning the camera slowly across the whole body of a mutilated, blood-spattered, thoroughly dead victim. There is one scene in particular that impressed me, involving the appearance of a girl who has a sunken cavity in her chest where her heart used to be. By and large, though, the gore is quite campy to us modern-day horror fans, but one should try to appreciate it in its proper context.
I can't conclude without addressing the performances of the actors and actresses involved with this movie. This may well be the worst assembly of hopeless actors I've ever seen. I don't know where Lewis found these people. You can't just take people off the street and have them perform this badly; it takes years of devoted practice to become this bad a performer. Lewis must have had some of these kids in a bad actor's training camp from the time they could talk in order to coax such wooden, ridiculously bad performances out of them. Then there is the terrible music, which continually takes one of three forms: endless repetition of two drum beats, the playing of a kazoo-like instrument, and terrible pipe organ music of the type that worked well alongside silent movies but does not work at all in this film.
Basically, Blood Feast is a horribly campy, low-budget, sub-B horror movie that now serves as hilarious entertainment which can not be taken the least bit seriously. Were it not for its importance as the first true blood and gore film, this would be just another forgettable trek through the dark forest of bad horror movies. Its historic importance to the genre, however, makes it a film every gorehound must watch and pay homage to in some way.
Blood feast isn't what you'd call a "good" movie, but it is an important movie whether you like it or not. Onscreen gore is rather commonplace now, and though usually associated with the horror genre, has found it's way into many other genres over the years. Hell, look at Passion of the Christ or Monty Python and the Holy Grail(or Meaning of Life for that matter). Gore is everywhere and we have Mr. Herschell Gordon Lewis and his opus Blood feast to thank for it. The paper thin plot consists of a lunatic caterer who goes around killing women and stealing their body parts as ingredients for a special Egyptian feast.....A BLOOD FEAST!!! This feast is part of an ancient ceremony that will resurrect an old goddess named Ishtar. Fuad Ramses, our lunatic caterer, has suckered a family into going for this feast(they don't know what's all in it though). His plan is to sacrifice the daughter(who's going out with one of the detectives on the case) and have the entire party take part in the feast, thus resurrecting Ishtar to......well, to do whatever Ishtar does. This flimsy plot merely works as a way to move from one bloody murder scene to the next. Though there are a handful of bloody kills, this film isn't quite the gorefest you may think. For the time I'm sure it was just completely insane and shocking, which was the intention. Some of it still looks rather gruesome. Most of it consists of "aftermath" kinda stuff. You won't actually see Fuad hacking off a woman's arm, but you'll see him holding the bloody severed arm in his hands. Today it's easy to laugh at the horrendous acting and primitive gore effects(though they aren't as bad as you may expect considering the budget), but back in 1963 I'm sure people were in too much of a state of shock at the images they were seeing to notice the bad acting. Lewis has said that no one had ever walked out of one of his films because of bad acting or dialogue. The most important thing to remember about Blood feast as well as all of Lewis' gore films is that it's all meant to be fun. I recently had a chat with Lewis(that's right, mofos! I did!) and he said that these films were never meant to be taken as serious horror films-they were always done with tongue planted in cheek and you were supposed to laugh at them. Essentially he made gory comedies. So even though Lewis' films will always be under the "horror" label, they were never meant to frighten or horrify. Sure they were meant to shock and gross out, but Lewis wanted you to have a few laughs along the way, and depending on how twisted your sense of humor is, I think Blood Feast achieves that quite nicely. Excellent commentary too.
on May 4, 2000
How do you define the classic that is "Blood Feast"? H. G. Lewis has said in interviews that as soon as the soft-core sex romps that he made went out of fashion, he needed a new angle that was cheap and attention grabbing - well, it was GORE! "Blood Feast" was his first attempt at this new style, and its hilarious from start to finish. The plot involves a sinister shop owner who is trying to resurrect an Egyptian goddess by dismembering beautiful girls. The film strings scenes of bloodshed together with the most inept and hammy scenes ever committed to film, especially those involing starlet Connie Mason, who can barely remember her cues, and the assorted extras who really go overboard upon the discovery of gruesome bodies. Watch out for the hysterical over-acting from the grieving mother of the beach victim! The gore scenes are indeed extreme, with gallons of blood and chunky bits splashed everywhere, but you would be hard pushed to be frightened during these scenes as nobody really looks like they are suffering. All in all it has the cheap atmosphere of one of thos 60's "nudie" films, but instaed of lingering close-ups on a young beauty undressing, you get lingering close-ups of a young beauty having her tongue extracted, or having a leg sawn off while in the bath! All in all it's enormous fun, especially at parties. Worth buying.