Blood Feast (1963)
For whatever reason, Blood Feast has always been considered controversial. You would think after 40 years of trash and torture porn people would ease up on it a bit but if you browse reviews for the film , you'll most likely find vents of antipathy towards it. Even at the David Friedman retrospective several of the speakers referred to it as "vomitous", "grotesque" and of course just flat out terrible. It didn't help that I had a couple of idiots behind me who thought their commentary was more entertaining than the movie. Perhaps I'm a bit biased but I don't really view Blood Feast as being anything less than a pioneer of it's genre. The invention of "Gore" alone is worth endless praise. I guess I just never took Blood Feast very seriously, other than it being seriously entertaining.
I'm I the only one whoever thought that the guy on the poster looks more like Mark Twain than Fuad Ramses?
Mal Arnold plays Fuad Ramses, an Egyptian caterer who runs a store that specializes in exotic cuisine. When a woman comes in and hires him to cater her daughter's party he realizes that this is the perfect opportunity to prepare his human feast for the Goddess Ishtar. We see Ishtar and she appears to be a mannequin spray painted gold. He goes on his killing spree where we're treated to seeing him maim young girls in various different ways taking certain body parts for his cannibalistic buffet.
I always found Blood Feast to be a somewhat beautiful film. I know I know, ridiculous, right? Upon every viewing I feel like I'm put in a trance. It's hazy and confusing in it's absurdity. It's both nightmarish and charming. There's an otherworldly aura surrounding the film. It really feels like it was made in another time and place, and I don't mean Miami in 1963. The music adds to this, Lewis' score of organ music and tribal drums sets an arcane undertone to the production. Fuad himself is such a strange little villain. He's a cartoon and I can't be reviled by him. He has giant penciled in eyebrows, a dramatic limp and a distinctly over characterized accent that makes you want to hang on to his every word. You might even find yourself rooting for him, because he's certainly the most likable character in the movie. I can hardly resent the film or H.G. Lewis that the end result is a little cheesy. Ok, so it's a lot cheesy, so what? I don't believe for a second that Lewis and Friedman weren't completely aware of what they were making, and let's face it, they're exploitation filmmakers who were out to turn a buck. There are obvious moments where the film it pokes fun at itself. The dim witted cops offer exagerated comic relief by supplying the narrative and re-explaining events the audience has already witnessed on screen. Of course there's also Fuad's book Ancient Weird Religious Rites which I think is rather self explanatory and proof that the filmmakers had a sense of humor.
Love it or hate it, Blood Feast is a cult classic that's spawned remakes, rip-offs even an overdue sequel in 2002. I happen to think it's a GREAT movie. Not kidding here. In all of it's flaws it's held up as a festive frolic of raw unrefined carnage. It's not going anywhere and will likely continue stirring up mixed feelings for generations to come.