Blood Feast (1963)

“Well, we’re just working with a homicidal maniac — that’s all.”

Blood Feast Poster

Synopsis:
A detective (William Kerwin) seeks clues to a mysterious rash of bloody killings across Miami, while the mother (Lyn Bolton) of his beautiful girlfriend (Connie Mason) arranges to have a party catered by a crazed Egyptian (Mal Arnold), who is obsessed with reenacting a sacrificial feast for the goddess Ishtar.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary refers to this first entry in “goremeister” Herschell Gordon Lewis’s “blood trilogy” — followed by 2000 Maniacs (1964) and Color Me Blood Red (1965) — as “vile trash” and “one of the sickest, most inept films ever made”. He notes that “the acting is ghastly”, “the casting abominable”, and the “camera work clumsy”. (He also adds that “ex-playmate Mason wears too much clothing”, but I’ll let that opinion pass.) He writes that “ten minutes into the film [he] stop[s] laughing at the picture’s badness and start[s] to get a migraine”, and he argues that while the “picture has camp value, to be sure” he “wonders about Lewis cultists who thrill to no-holds-barred violence and disgusting images”. He ends his review by noting that “if you detest horror films that show how many shocking ways a creative sadist can do away with young women, then Lewis is the man you’ll want to blame and this is the film you’ll want to burn”.

While Peary’s points are all valid, I believe this flick holds more camp value than he gives it credit for. Its ineptitude on multiple levels is so extreme that personally, I couldn’t help giggling throughout its short (60-minute-plus) running time; and while the graphic violence against women is reprehensible, it’s all so shoddily done that — unlike with more recent/modern fare — you simply won’t believe any of it for a second. Along those lines, I’m genuinely puzzled by Peary’s assertion that cultists “want to know exactly how Lewis accomplishes the famous effect” — considered to be “the picture’s highlight” — in which “Ramses rips a tongue out of a woman’s mouth”, given that we simply see Ramses (Arnold) putting his hand in a screaming woman’s red-paint-filled mouth, then a separate shot of Ramses holding up a (sheep’s) tongue covered with red paint. Where’s the mystery, exactly, in how this shoddy “effect” was achieved?

Ultimately, this movie is on a par with what today’s 12-year-olds could easily achieve — and whether it should still be considered “must see” viewing is a point of debate. However, I’m leaning on the “yes” side simply due to its historical relevance for ushering in the era of “splatter films” (a dubious distinction to be sure, but a notable one). For much more information on the film’s Z-grade production history, be sure to listen to the director’s commentary on Something Weird’s DVD release — or, as I did, read the copious notes taken by the reviewer at B-Movie Central.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Laughably terrible acting, special effects, and direction
    Blood Feast Tongue
    Blood Feast Lecture
    Blood Feast Letter
    Blood Feast Face Cast

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its cult status and historical relevance.

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2 Responses to “Blood Feast (1963)”

  1. First and last viewing. Not must-see.

    More or less an Ed Wood-inspired flick that’s less ‘accomplished’, and in color. It does up-the-ante from Wood due to its very slight shock value. But Wood had a certain…way…with actors which Lewis lacks (~although the ‘actor’ playing the boyfriend Tony, midway, gets points for hamming-up post-murder sorrow and, near the end, Mason seems to almost give the film its one moment of real acting).

    This movie is actually pretty boring. Pacing is terrible and terribly slow. (Totally without camp value, if you ask me – but if something in it makes others giggle, then perhaps it may work for them as camp. To me, it doesn’t qualify.) It’s a bit like a horror film on Xanax.

  2. ⭐️⭐️

    This gets an extra star for having a fair amount of significance within the horror genre as the first gore film. At least it’s short but even at 67 minutes it still feels protracted.

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