Thursday, November 25, 2004

Blood Feast (1963)

here is a little movie review in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday where we in the U.S. eat ourselves silly then spend the evening moaning and unbuckling our pants to make room for our bulging bellies.

director Herschel Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman teamed up to release what is acknowledged as the first splatter film ever made. both had spent the late 1950s and early 1960s making films known as Nudie Cuties, movies that allowed for a bit of gratuitous skin before the advent of commercial porn flicks. but by the early '60s the genre exhausted itself. so they decided to make a horror film that capitalized on the gore. and boy did they succeed. you see, both Lewis and Friedman were/are adepts at marketing and used their considerable skills in making and selling their exploitation goods.

the plot (plot? well, what passes for a plot) involves Egyptian caterer Fuad Ramses gathering female body parts for a feast in tribute to the Goddess Ishtar. Ramses collects his victims from a mail-order business he has on the side. Ramses is not only a caterer but an expert on Egyptian lore and author of several books. so young women on his mailing lists for his books are hunted down and chopped up in rather grisly detail. however, the budget for the special effects is about a buck fifty and involves lotsa red karo syrup and little else. by today's standards the film's affect little horror in its viewers and more like side-splitting comedy. I mean, Lewis made one really funny film whether he meant to or not. the editing is crude, the camera is static and the score (composed by Lewis) consists of little more than some kind of brass horn and a kettle drum.

needless to say a plainclothes cop is hot on Ramses tail. Ramses is keen on the policeman's girlfriend who is having some sort of party at her house where Ramses (surprise!) is the caterer and creating his blood feast. lotsa mayhem ensues, and yeah you guessed it, Ramses does not succeed in making the cop's girlfriend (Playboy Playmate Connie Mason, who also went on to star in Lewis's and Friedman's second film together 2,000 Maniacs) the main course. when the detective hunts down Ramses in the town dump the caterer is swiftly dispatched by the garbage truck he is hiding in. end credits.

all this in lovingly bright color. the movie is quite a sumptuous meal and I can imagine unsuspecting theater-goers throwing up in the aisles when it opened up at drive-ins and grindhouses in 1963. but there is more because my disc of the film also contains a short, Carving Magic, that stars Harvey Korman and the cop from Blood Feast (who again plays the boyfriend of Connie Mason in 2,000 Maniacs) William Kerwin. the short teaches you everything you want to know, and more, on the arts of carving meats, from turkey to pot roast. perfect for the Thanksgiving meal.