BLOOD FEAST (1963 US) D/P: HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS P: DAVID F. FRIEDMAN/STANFORD S. KOHLBERG W: ALLISON LOUISE DOWN
The effects and repercussions of this infamous gore movie cannot be overstated. Despite the fact that violent and graphically gory scenes had already appeared in cinema around the world, BLOOD FEAST was the first feature to gleefully shove it's audiences faces right into it's only reason for existing. A drive-in hit, it set a new standard for screen violence and things would be a lot different today without it. The plot is simplicity itself. Mal Arnold (an unique actor with those unforgettable eyebrows) is an Egyptian named Fuad Ramses who runs a catering shop in Florida. When a woman requests his services for her daughter's birthday, Ramses uses the event as an opportunity to replicate "the feast of Ishtar". A short flashback history lesson informs us that Ishtar was a bloodthirsty Egyptian goddess to whom sacrifices were made. To bring Ishtar back to life, Ramses kills women and removes parts of them as offerings. Playboy playmate Connie Mason has her tongue ripped out of her head while others have their brains and legs removed. Lewis regular William Kerwin is a cop on the case and Friedman himself appears briefly as a drunk. When discussing BLOOD FEAST, people are eager to dismiss it's quality, insisting that it is only of historical interest. I happen to think that it actually works pretty well as an offbeat little horror movie. Sure the acting is bad and it wouldn't win any awards for editing or set design, but it's pretty hypnotically watchable. Lewis (who photographed and wrote that unforgettable soundtrack) and Friedman (and Mason) returned to gore for the even better 2,000 MANIACS. Screenwriter Downe wrote several for Lewis and peforms (as Vicki Miles) in the same year's SCUM OF THE EARTH. H. G. Lewis fans may want to tackle the silly, tongue-in-cheek novelization. Years later, the much talked about sequel finally appeared.


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