Sunday, January 2, 2011

#149. Blood Feast (1963)

DVD Synopsis: When Mrs. Fremont hires crackpot Egyptian cultist Fuad Ramses to cater a party for her daughter, Suzette, she commits the culinary catastrophe of the century! Fuad immediately prepares a Blood Feast made with the grisly body parts of nubile young women. Borrowing the leg of a gal taking a bath, the brains of a woman making out on the beach, and the tongue of a sexy blonde, Fuad and his machete plan on adding Suzette to the main course...

It seems to happen without fail: whenever a 'classic' horror film is brought up in conversation, someone always says, “I'm sure it was probably something back in the day, but it's pretty tame by modern standards”. Well, I'm here to tell you that Blood Feast, directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and released in 1963, is the exception; even now, it's multiple scenes of blood and gore pack a pretty strong wallop. 

Widely considered the first true “gore” film, Blood Feast wastes no time in getting down to business; before the opening titles even make an appearance, we witness the murder of a blonde beauty who, while lying in the bathtub, is first stabbed in the eye, then has her leg hacked off. Another poor girl named Trudy (Christy Foushee), whose only crime was making out with her boyfriend on the beach, doesn't fare any better: her head is sliced open, and her brains spilled onto the sand. The graphic depiction of these and other murders that occur throughout Blood Feast is shocking. It was undoubtedly shocking in 1963, and it's still shocking today. 

And how was the film received? How did people react to all that blood and gore on the big screen in 1963? In the book The Sleaze Merchants: Adventures in Exploitation Filmmaking (published by St. Martin's Griffin in 1996), the author, John McCarty, conducts an in-depth interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis, covering his many years as a filmmaker. At one point, Lewis discusses the premiere of Blood Feast:

We opened the film at a drive-in in Peoria, feeling that if we dropped dead in Peoria no one would ever know. The film opened on a Friday. Saturday we couldn't stand it any longer, and we drove down to Peoria. Even though there was a major fair in town, theater traffic was backed up so far the state police were directing it. We were still about a quarter-mile from the theater when I turned to Dave (Friendman, the producer), held out my hand and said, “Well, I guess we started something”. 

A lot has changed since the 1960's, horror movies included. One thing that apparently hasn't changed all that much is their audience; even back then, people liked their blood and gore!

Please leave a comment below... I'd love to hear from you


Anonymous said...

Heard your Chills segment on Planet Macabre and am glad you recommended this. Even the sequels were decent. Used the link on Macabre to get it for under $2 dollars!

That is an excellent show and I will subscribe to your feed here through Snarfer, which is a feed aggregator if you didn't know, great free program for reading blogs and news.

See ya Doctor Shock! Dorian from Michigan

Dave Becker said...

@Dorian: Thanks so much for checking out the site, and for commenting. I'm also glad to hear you're enjoying Planet Macabre. It's a lot of fun putting those Podcasts together.

I actually haven't caught the sequels yet to BLOOD FEAST. Thanks for the input on those.

Take care, and thanks again.

Dave (Dr. Shock)

Anonymous said...

Hello der Shockmeister, great horror pick over on planet macabre, keep the old horror rolling in.

Justin from the biggest state in the world TEXAS.

Dave Becker said...

@Jason: Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked this pick, and I'll do my best to keep 'em coming!

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Blood Feast is a nice horror choice a real gem. I like your reviews on the podcast you do.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words. I do enjoy doing the Podcast, and I'm glad you liked this recommendation.

Cyberschizoid said...

Blood Feast - one of my absolute faves and one of the earliest videos I ever rented from my local video store!

Dave Becker said...

@Cyberschizoid: Thanks for the comment.

I've just recently seen this one for the first time, and am amazed (not to mention impressed) at how well it's effects hold up.

How old were you when you first saw it? I'm guessing that, if you were young, it would have definitely left an impression on you!

Tommy Ross said...

Classic must-have flick, and those outfits and bathing suits, oh yeah!!

David said...

Hey Doc. Just curious if you've ever seen the Japanese movie "Jigoku"? If you're interested in early gore films then I'd definitely recommend checking it out. Its first hour is pretty tame and kind of goofy but the remaining thirty minutes showcase some of the tortures imposed in Buddhist hell. It's some quite extreme stuff and it pre-dates Blood Feast by 3 years!

Again I've got to say I'm really enjoying your blog. I'm amazed at how you manage to maintain the level review quality when you have to write one every single day. They're always insightful and intelligent but never stray into the sometimes condescending and pretentious trappings that often go hand in hand with film criticism. This blog is a blatant labour of love, with an emphasis on the labour!