“Ramses was the killer we’ve been looking for. Mrs. Fremont,
I’m afraid this feast is evidence of murder!
The guests will have to eat hamburgers for dinner tonight.”
Blood Feast is called the first ‘splatter film’ and its director, Herschell Gordon Lewis, is credited with creating the splatter or gore genre horror film and as such called the Godfather of Gore.
One for pushing boundaries in his films he reportedly made this after watching Psycho (1960) and feeling that Hitchcock cheated the audience with the murders by not showing the aftermath so that cinemas would screen the film so not only does he up the gore to levels not seen before but he threw in the odd bit of nudity too.
All very taboo in 1960’s America and leading this to be the oldest film on Britain’s Video Nasties list.
The film centres around a detective hunting a serial killer killing women and mutilating their bodies to collect certain body parts for purposes that are obvious given the title.
What follows is a poorly edited, poorly acted, weakly scored and blunderingly directed but giving us a beautiful mess of a film.
There is no denying the acting is bad and over-the-top which is fitting as so is the gore.
As for the gore, which I’ll call splatter, this too is a bit of a mess with it being difficult to work out if that is an eye or a tongue due to the copious amounts (for the time) of bright red thick blood and I mean BRIGHT red.
Limbs and dismembered bodies of multiple victims are aplenty as well also looking pretty good.
So other than the splatter why should anyone care when badly made horror films are ten a penny?
Well this is quite an important film historically as it pushed what was acceptable in film due to the extreme splatter and very brief nudity which when becoming a big financial success lead to many other filmmakers making their own splatter films.
This caused Herschell after his third in the unofficially titled ‘Blood Trilogy‘ was released to stop making splatter films as he felt the market was going to become over-saturated.
To help build up publicity as well as controversy producer David F. Friedman handed out ‘vomit bags’ and even went as far as to take out an injunction against his own film.
Both of which worked.
Filmed over nine days with a minuscule budget even though $24,000 in 1963 was probably still quite a substantial amount, the charm comes from everything that should make this a failure coming together to give us a nice oddity from over 50 years ago that helped to shape a genre we all love.
The Arrow presentation here is nice as always. I only have the DVD version but the picture was very nice. As usual there are plenty of extras including outtakes and plenty of interviews with Herschell and producer David F. Friedman.
Also included is a short starring Blood Feast actor Bill Kerwin as well as another full length film of Herschell’s Scum of the Earth.
Scum of the Earth (1963) was filmed in six days just after Blood Feast in the same area and is about a sleazy outfit as they attempt to coerce a young girl into posing for nude photos.
This is different to Blood Feast in that it is more serious. The acting is better but still a tad dodgy from some of the cast and the script and direction is also superior.
Overall not a bad exploitation film and is nice to have added to this release.
Blood Feast is a good ‘bad’ film and one for Herschell fans or for people who like older, low budget horror. Don’t expect any technical excellence in any area but to watch a film where the makers set out to push boundaries in the industry and who succeeded.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Scum of the Earth – Herschelll Gordon Lewis’ 1963 feature
- Blood Perspectives – Filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy and Rodney Ascher on Blood Feast
- Herschell’s History – Archival interview in which director Herschell Gordon Lewis discusses his entry into the film industry
- How Herschell Found his Niche – A new interview with Lewis discussing his early work
- Archival interview with Lewis and David F. Friedman
- Carving Magic – Vintage short film from 1959 featuring Blood Feast Actor Bill Kerwin
- Alternate “clean” scenes from Scum of the Earth
- Promo gallery featuring trailers and more
- Feature length commentary featuring Lewis and David F. Friedman moderated by Mike Grady
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil