Allison Louise Downe
Herschell Gordon Lewis
William Kerwin as Detective Wood
Mal Arnold as Fuoud Ramses
Connie Mason as Suzette Fremont
Some originals leave us in awe of the genius of the filmmaker. Others remind us that even the Tree of Originality has its share of low hanging fruit. Director Gordon Lewis picked the lowest hanging fruit – devoting an entire film to bodies covered with buckets of blood. But Lewis got there first and he is immortalized as the director of Blood Feast, the original splatter film.
Unfortunately, the delivery system for all that blood is pure garbage. Designating Blood Feast a ‘B’ movie would unfairly raise audience expectations. It should at least fall as low as an ‘F’, if that were possible and if Lewis shot this piece for a film class it would receive an ‘F’ in every category. The abysmal acting, ridiculous story, plot craters (not just holes) and poor picture quality could be forgiven by (very) generous audiences, but for the first splatter film, the color and texture of the blood should at least be believable. Instead, Lewis uses tomato sauce and (at times) finger paint. The selling point of Blood Feast at time of release was the presence of copious amounts of blood – IN FULL COLOR. Ironically, seeing it in full color only detracts from its believability. Yet, the presence of all that blood, as unrealistic as it appears, is a milestone any fan of the genre should behold. Pure sensationalism – met with the same scandalous reception as the first on-scene killing twenty years earlier in The Body Snatcher.
A serial killer, Ruoud Ramses, murders buxom young ladies. From each victim he either removes an internal organ, or slices off a limb. Unfortunately, there are no discernible wounds on the victims – just “blood”. And the organs he removes are unrecognizable. When paused, many resemble old lunch meats (I can only imagine how the set smelled). Instead of drawing out the suspense, the audience learns soon after the opening credits that the purpose of these killings and organ removals is to prepare for the Feast of Ishtar. It is ostensibly Egyptian, even though the historical record documents it as Babylonian, but as you have probably noticed, this is the very least of the viewer’s concerns.
The audience witnesses several killings. You will be amazed to learn that corpses can move their lips (poor acting/directing can teach one so much). Of course, this goof may have been avoidable had her gag reflex not been triggered by the outward flow of tomato sauce (though her body is covered with finger paint). The corpse’s actions precede Ramses reaching down her throat and pulling out a lung (apparently, it’s just that easy).
Who would bother watching this pile of compost (aside from an impoverished reviewer)? If you snickered a bit at the description, you will laugh out loud at the film. It is so bad, it’s funny! It may even be worth a group viewing. There is also alcohol… I’m not saying that enhances the comedic value, just throwing it out there. Not only is Blood Feast on an Ed Wood level of wretchedness (complete with his trademark, beginning a scene when it is light and in the next shot it is dark), but you can also proudly state that you endured the first splatter film.
A word on the rating for Blood Feast: This is a rating based on the enjoyment a horror fan would accrue from a viewing – going in fully aware of the flaws and seeking the perverse sort of pleasure described. Also, precedent-setting flicks tend to (and should) receive a little leeway. This is the first splatter film and also served as a template (consciously, or unconsciously) for low budget horror film makers who focused more on sensationalism than any other element that makes a movie worth watching.