Blood Feast (1963)
You'll recoil and shudder as you witness the slaughter and mutilation of nubile young girls - in a weird and horrendous ancient rite!
Year of Release: 1963
Also Known As: Feast of Flesh, The Blood Feast, Egyptian Blood Feast
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 67 minutes (1:07)
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
William Kerwin ... Det. Pete Thornton
Mal Arnold ... Fuad Ramses
Connie Mason ... Suzette Fremont
Lyn Bolton ... Mrs. Dorothy Fremont
Scott H. Hall ... Frank - police captain
Christy Foushee ... Trudy Sanders
David F. Friedman ... Drunken Husband (uncredited)
Herschell Gordon Lewis ... Radio Announcer (voice) (uncredited)
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...
Blood Feast, remindin' us that The Bangles didn't have a clue how to authentically walk like an Egyptian, otherwise they'da called that song "limp like an Egyptian." In fact, it's kinda offensive when you think about it, cause the Egyptian in the movie can't hardly walk at all, an that goofy dance The Bangles do in the video just makes the guy even more depressed cause he's so crippled he can't even make an ass of 'imself with the rest of society. Prolly made 'im feel more like an Egimptian than an Egyptian, an for no better reason than havin' a disability. That's pretty mean-spirited in my book. Sometimes it seems like people forget that maniacal proto-Sawyer caterers are people too.
An speakin' of people who'd prolly eat ya if push came to shove, Billy Hilliard, Cleave Furguson, Sadie Bonebreak, an I all went out to Silas Tankersley's place to cut us some Jesus trees (we hafta call 'em that around Silas or else he starts talkin' about "finders fees" an "facility charges" for usin' his outhouse) for Christmas so the J-man'll know we appreciate the time he spent gettin' up close an personal with lumber for our sins. Course, we hadda take Sadie's 1983 Dodge Ramcharger cause Cleave's Bronco's been over at Bondo's Auto Repair and Salvage Yard ever since that bus fulla enviros pounded it into a Borg cube a coupla months ago. Which is fine by me, cause Cleave's crummy was startin' to get a lotta holes in the floorboards, an I didn't especially wanna be pelted by the slush flyin' offa his radials all afternoon anyhow. But anyway, Silas didn't have any six-footers that hadn't been chewed up like number two pencils in the lobby of a stop smokin' clinic by porcupines, so we ended up fallin' some good sized firs an cuttin' the tops out of 'em since Silas was a little behind with his firewood cuttin' an could use the rest of 'em. He don't really give a flip what you do, so long as you don't drop any trees on that old Model T chassis he's been claimin' he's gonna fix up since 1969, or smash any of his goats like cockroaches on the wall of a Motel 5, anyhow. So Sadie ran the saw, Billy shoved the trees away from anything Silas considered valuable, an Cleave an I kept Neidhard (Silas' surly old billy goat patriarch) distracted so he wouldn't sneak up on Sadie an try buttin' 'er in the can while she was workin' (it's always dangerous to sexually harass Sadie, but it's especially stupid to do it while she's holdin' 50lbs of razor sharp pine pulverizer). Wasn't too long before we'd dropped an loaded up three trees, with Sadie mosta the way through the last one, when Billy slipped on a chunka frozen quartz as he went to shove it over an... well, fortunately none of Silas' kids were usin' the playground equipment at the time. Actually, I should prolly be more specific; none of his *children* were usin' it. Apparently one of his baby goats was screwin' around on the see-saw an ended up gettin' launched into orbit when the tree fell on the other end. Needless to say, we hadda get that last treetop outta there in a hurry before that poor goat finally landed someplace traumatic like the kids' sleddin' hill, or the outhouse. I'm just hopin' Silas don't keep a real accurate head count, or else I'll be back in court for the third time in two years. It was bad enough workin' off my "debt" to Skunky Hernandez last summer, but Skunky's place at least looks like part of a developin' nation. The Tankersley land is like steppin' back into prehistoric times, an I'd rather not hafta fight off Wooly Mammoths with a garden hoe if I can avoid it. In any event, my tree's up, Shankles's buildin' his traditional holiday tree fort in it, an Apollo's leg's healed up enough that he was able to limp over an mark it last night, so I guess all's well that ends well.
Gettin' back to the flick though, Blood Feast is about as historically significant as you can get in terms of modern horror cinema, cause it was the first movie ever made that could be legitimately classified as a gore flick. We're talkin' the first fish to crawl onto dry land here. The first monkey shot into space. The first Appalachian hillbilly to marry outside their immediate family. An it all started with a Chicago advertisin' guru who was lookin' for the next big thing in cinema when the bottom dropped out of the nudie cutie, which was what he'd been makin' prior to his famous gore titles. This is why Herschell Gordon Lewis is known as The Godfather of Gore, an it's also why Blood Feast is the oldest movie ever made to get stuck on the notorious Video Nasties list that the British morality police assembled back in the '80s when they realized they didn't have as much control over other people's lives as they wanted. So I've prepared just a few of the things I learned from this timeless piece of horror history that I'd like to pass on in the hopes of inspirin' the next Herschell Gordon Lewis. First, runnin' from the cops while brandishin' a machete is gonna complicate matters when you try convincin' the judge to release you on your own recognizance durin' your arraignment. Second, if you've got a useless foot that hasta be dragged everywhere you go an you wanna take a stroll on the beach, be sure to attach a plow to your shoe. Otherwise you're gonna have a little personalized Desert Storm in your socks. An third, if they'd had Yelp in the 1960s, the only thing Fuad Ramses woulda been catering to would be a wide variety of tube steaks in the maximum security ward. Now let's all thank Herschell for his timely contribution to the genre, cause without him, Hollywood woulda gone straight to CGI blood an we woulda had a hell of a lot less to look back on fondly.
But much as I enjoy Blood Feast, you know what really chars my chalupa about it? An this happens anytime there's a psycho cannibal killer on the loose choppin' up nubile young women into pepper steak; every single woman in town decides to go into hidin' even though the killer specifically targets women that you might actually wanna look at nekkid, an most women's melons morph into squashes by the time they hit 40. So pretty quick the entire beauty salon/bingo economy collapses because of these ladies' unwillingness to accept reality, it's pitiful. I think it's high time somebody addressed this. I mean really, some of these women haven't been nubile since the Truman administration an spend at least three hours a week writin' letters to CBS complainin' about the cancellation of Murder She Wrote, an they honestly believe that the killer's gonna want their withered old leather jacket giblets for his murderloaf? I say that it's high time these women accept the passage of centuries an acknowledge that they're no longer suitable for cannibal cuisine. So I've prepared a list of indicators to help everyone determine whether or not there's any reason to panic when other dames start showin' up with pieces of their anatomy absent. Now I want all you ladies to tally up the total number of "yes" answers (an be HONEST with yourselves for once) you come up with for the followin' series of questions, an I'll tell you whether or not you aughta be worried about bein' turned into honey ham:
1) I have (or graduated high school with someone who had) one of the following names: Mildred, Gertrude, Nan, Betsy, Edwina, Beatrice, Margaret, Ethel, Agnes, Phyllis, or Hilda.
2) I have at some point in my life used one or more of the following terms or expressions unironically: "dreamy", "hogwash", "flapdoodle", "negro", "brassiere", "in trouble", "go steady", "fat city", or "backseat bingo."
3) I once had a crush on Art Linkletter.
4) I consider Metamucil to be a miracle drug.
5) I've stopped reading the obituaries because my doctor thinks it's contributing to my clinical depression.
6) I no longer hold in my farts when I'm in public.
7) I'm often passed by joggers while driving my Buick LeSabre.
8) I occasionally fall asleep while trying to remember someone's name.
9) I wake up at 4:30 in the morning every day and spend the next two hours doing crossword puzzles until it's time to ambush the neighbor with conversation as they try warming up their car for work.
10) I believe Rush Limbaugh is a RINO.
This should provide an adequate picture of whether or not you have anything to fear from any serial cannibals roaming your neighborhoods for supple flesh. Now, if you answered "yes" to three or more of these questions, you're completely safe from psychos out in search of young lady bits. If not, I'd suggest locking up those groceries like Fort Knox, an be sure not to speak to anybody who asks questions like; "hey, you wanna come back to my place an check out my skin collection?" or "don't you think it's a shame that Two and a Half Men got cancelled?" Very dangerous people. Do not under any circumstances make eye contact, an keep one hand on your keys at all times in the event you need to use them as eye gougers (I recommend keeping your middle finger between the two longest ones to ensure they remain separated by the precise distance necessary to achieve maximum corneal contusion). Most of you, however, will have discovered after taking this survey, that you are over the hill. I've accepted it, and I believe you should probably do the same before anyone breaks a hip doin' The Mashed Potato at the American Legion dance hall.
The movie begins with some broad drawin' 'erself a bath so she can study 'er copy of "Ancient Weird Religious Rites" an prepare for 'er big correspondence course final in Crackpot Ideologies of the Nile Basin. Cept just as she gets to the part about Egyptian pyramid schemes, this creepo with hair dustier'n the Bible in a Motel 5 hooker sweat suite (Fuad Ramses) walks in, stabs 'er in the eyeball, hacks the rest of 'er into Beefaroni, an takes 'er legs home to fashion into sexy lamps. A little while later, these two cops (Pete an Frank) who share a desk at the public library're sittin' around talkin' about how damn frustrated they are due to their uncanny ability to ignore the fingerprints on the side of the tub, bloody footprints on the linoleum, an the rare copy of "Ancient Weird Religious Rites" soakin' up suds, an basically throw up their hands before takin' a break to go hassle some suspected hippies. Meanwhile, at Fuad Ramses' Exotic Catering, Fuad's mindin' his own business lookin' an actin' like a deviled ham, til this socialite wearin' a Halloween sombrero (Dorothy) comes in an tells 'im about how she's tired of hostin' dinner parties that serve food capable of passin' a health inspection. So Fuad bulges his eyes out like Bela Lugosi an hypnotizes 'er into agreein' to an Egyptian feast an keeps trailin' off into cryptic evil Vincent Price talk, til he finally normals up an says not to worry about a thing cause he's gonna bust out the recipe cards an bake 'er some Cleopatties an Ra-men noodles. Chick needs to calm 'er Nefertitties an get outta Fuad's face so he can get some work done. I really hate dealin' with desperate, clingy chatterboxes like her. Then Fuad goes to talk to this statue of one of the Solid Gold Dancers (the goddess Ishtar) he's got in his pantry an tells it he's got some cookin' to do, but that he'll be back to grovel at 'er feet after awhile. Later that night, some couple's out rollin' around on the beach gettin' sand in their fanny crannies, til the girl gets scared about all the recent dismemberments, an the guy hasta talk to 'er like she's a retarded puppy to calm 'er down.
Only before he can sink the blue ball in 'er corner pocket, Fuad comes along an clubs the guy with the force of an elderly cripple, hacks off the top of the chick's head like Colin Clive at a jack-o-lantern carvin' contest, an pulls a buncha bloody cream of wheat outta there to take home for his cream de la crud culinary confections. Then the cops show up an the girl's date starts blubberin' about how he coulda stopped the guy if he'd just gone to P.E. class once in a while an developed a body that didn't resemble a pipe cleaner sculpture of Fiona Apple. The next day, a 25' long car pulls into a sleazy motel where its female passenger gets out an heads up to 'er room so she can get all the sadness cried out of 'erself before 'er first date of the afternoon shows up, cept about that time Fuad decides to knock on 'er door to she if she'll accept his senior citizen discount card, an pretty quick things get outta hand an Fuad hasta put the Mandible Claw on 'er til she finally gives up the tongue. It's a damn good thing that 'er pimp'd beaten the bite reflex out of 'er, otherwise Fuad would prolly be havin' a real awkward conversation at the emergency room about why he needs a judge to put out a court order for the retrieval of his class ring from a hooker's stomach. Elsewhere, Dorothy's daughter (Suzette) is hangin' out with Pete at an ancient Egyptian death cult lecture over at the community college, where this professor's borin' the crap outta everybody on a level seldom witnessed outside of a senior center discussion about cannin' peaches. The professor goes on to explain that the Egyptian high priestesses used to get sloshed on the pharaoh's private stash of top shelf hooch an go around sleepin' with every horny guy in Cairo, til it was finally time to sacrifice 'em to Ishtar an serve the leftovers for lunch to 'er followers like cannibalistic communion wafers. Then the professor hasta end the class to get home in time to catch his Discovery Channel special on the matin' habits of the Iranian crotch beetle, an Pete tells Suzette that he's gonna try his best to make it to 'er party, but that there's this whole murder spree thing goin' on that's been completely foulin' up his personal life lately.
Suzette's not too worried about it since she's pretty sure she can get Jack Webb to go with 'er if Pete flakes out, an so they drive down to the beach an make out til Pete gets cock blocked when the radio on his uncranked car springs to life an mentions the discovery of the killer's latest victim. Suzette's played by a former Playboy Playmate, so as you can imagine, Pete gets this look on his face like the power just went out at the arcade three seconds before he could break the Pac-Man record, an heads for the hospital where the victim's in critical condition with a bad case of deconstructive facial surgery. Pete an Frank initially put out an APB on Gunnar Hansen, but end up cancellin' it when the ma'am without a face tells 'em she was attacked by a horrible old man who claimed he was doin' it for "Eetar," before immediately goin' limper'n a set of wrists at a Broadway production of Cats. The cops still can't see the hieroglyphics on the wall, so while they try gettin' it together, Fuad heads over to Suzette's house to kidnap 'er Betty Rubble lookin' friend, but ends up feelin' too overdressed to join their pool party an limps away to try an overcome his fear of girls. Eventually, Fuad's able to bludgeon Betty when she leaves the house, an drives 'er back to his place so he can whip 'er with a cat 'o nine covered in Prego thick an chunky til she's tender enough to mix in with his current batch of Gutzpacho. Meanwhile, Pete's finally able to master basic preschool phonics an realizes "Eetar" kinda sounds like "Ishtar," an hasta call up the professor to ask how he aughta dress for an Egyptian Blood Feast. Then Pete an Frank head over to Fuad's place an find the rubble that was once Betty splattered all over a table like a hand grenade went off in 'er bra, an Pete tells Frank they'd better get over to Suzette's place before all the breast meat gets digested. But while Pete an Frank're still gettin' with the program, Fuad's over at Suzette's place puttin' the finishin' touches on 'er din-din by havin' 'er lay down spread-eagle on the kitchen counter so he can get a look at the goods, an preparin' to slice 'er up into Ishtar-tare. Gonna cut it here, cause even though Suzette is technically the main character (I guess), it'd be a pretty bad idea to believe that Herschell wouldn't let Fuad turn 'er into Lunchables, just because of that.
Alrighty, well, pretty graphic for 1963, wouldn't you say? As a matter of fact, there were only four movies deemed disgusting enough from the 1960s to make the infamous Video Nasties list in the 1980s, and this is the oldest title to appear on that list. The other three were: The Ghastly Ones, Love Camp 7, and Night of the Bloody Apes. But this was the first explicit gore movie ever made, and it made so much money that Herschell Gordon Lewis decided to cement his legacy as The Godfather of Gore by dedicating more of his time to the pursuit of disgusting cinema. Course, before he popularized the gore flick, Herschell was best known for those goofy nudie cutie movies that you had to shoot inside nudist colonies so you could disguise your full frontal nudity as a documentary, cause apparently it's only tasteful when the nekkid people in your movie got acne all over their hinders. That genre eventually petered out when we decided to quit bein' unadulterated prudes and allowed filmmakers to include nudity in regular movies, so Herschell moved on to the next best taboo he could think of and movie history was made. I'd imagine this was probably one of the highest grossing independent films ever made prior to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween, having raked in about 4 million bucks on a budget of $25,000 (the modern equivalent would be about 31 million with only a budget of $200,000), with the best part being that nobody seemed to care how amateurish it was because it was just so strange. And yeah, it's a little silly to watch in 2015, but you've gotta understand that Blood Feast came out the same year that Leave it to Beaver went off the air. Even getting this thing onto a drive-in screen took some serious guts, and in 1963 the thing that people who saw it at the drive-in remembered about it when they went home wasn't the god-awful acting or the extremely noticeable day to night transitions. No, what they remembered was a maniac tearing out people's tongues and stabbing eyeballs with a machete. That was definitely something they weren't prepared for, and it's a feeling that I don't think anyone born after the 1950s is really capable of experiencing anymore. At this point we've basically seen it all, and our modern response to attempting to one-up the great horror films of the past is to add a rape scene whether it makes any sense or not. Blood Feast, while not nearly as well made, was easily as important to the horror genre as the Universal monster movies of the 1930s, because like them, it significantly upped the ante in terms of what subsequent movies could do in the future. I'm inclined to say that Blood Feast was probably the bigger accomplishment (despite being inferior in quality) just because of how big a jump it was in relation to what people were used to seeing prior, and because Herschell really didn't have any kind of blueprint to work from when he set out to make the movie, since nobody'd done anything like it before. I guess what I'm saying is, this one's kinda important, even if you can't get past the shoddy production values.
In any event, let's yank out this thing's tongue before it starts tryin' to use it to read lines off its hand. The plot is weird, silly, and not especially accurate in terms of what little genuine factual information it attempts to build on, as Ishtar was actually a Babylonian goddess. But then again, it's not like most people were gonna know that. Really, there're quite a few little details that you can nitpick if you want to; like the way the cops trample the incredibly distinctive limping footprint trail on the beach and act like there's just no clues available to them, or how Fuad Ramses' apparently been waiting for 40 years for somebody to ask him to cater an Egyptian feast. I mean, he probably could've suggested that to some customer before his hair went grey on him, especially if he can hypnotize people like Bela Lugosi. The biggest hole is probably the fact that Suzette's character attends a class that gives a lecture on what a mega-bitch Ishtar was, but doesn't freak out at all when Fuad asks her to offer herself to Ishtar while she's layin' on the kitchen counter. But in all seriousness, and I realize how this sounds, the plot of this movie is basically irrelevant. The acting is remarkably bad. Most of these people would never have been selected to be an understudy for a community theater production, let alone cast in a movie, but that's what we're dealing with nonetheless. Yet, as bad as the majority are, Connie Mason still manages to stand out as the most unpolished of the lot. Maybe it's the name, cause wasn't Connie the name of the teenage actress from Troll 2? But you've also got the people who're really trying their hearts out and crashing just as hard as Connie, only a lot less half-assed. Gene Courtier is the best example of this, particularly when he gives his big emotional speech to the police about how his girlfriend getting killed on the beach was all his fault because she wanted to go home and he didn't. That's easily the single funniest scene in the movie, although the scene where the same girl's parents go to the police station after she's murdered and the mother blubbers into the chief's desk about how she'd just made the girl a white dress and now she'll never wear it, is pretty hilarious too. To be fair, Mal Arnold (who played Fuad Ramses) is probably as bad as the rest, but the specific breed of badness is so bizarre and creepy that I kinda liked his performance. The one ray of hope in all this is William Kerwin who plays Detective Pete, and he's really not a bad actor. A little dull maybe, but that has more to do with the character than the actor. Just getting through any scene he shared with Scott Hall (who played Frank) without cracking up at how bad the guy was warrants a certain amount of respect.
Here's who matters and why: William Kerwin (Two Thousand Maniacs!, The Aliens are Coming, Barracuda, The Shadow of Chikara, Whiskey Mountain, God's Bloody Acre, House of Terror, Dear Dead Delilah, Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, A Taste of Blood), Mal Arnold (Vampire Cop), Connie Mason (Two Thousand Maniacs!), Scott H. Hall (Color Me Blood Red), Christy Foushee (The Beast that Killed Women, Honeymoon of Horror), Sandra Sinclair (The Beast that Killed Women), Allison Louise Downe (The Gruesome Twosome, The Beast that Killed Women), Jerome Eden (Two Thousand Maniacs!, Color Me Blood Red), David F. Friedman (Retardead, Blood Feast 2, Search for the Beast, An American Werewolf in Paris, She Freak), Herschell Gordon Lewis (Tonight You Die, The Gainsesville Ripper, Smash Cut, The Uh-oh Show, Psycho Holocaust, Retardead, Book of Love, Chainsaw Sally, The Gruesome Twosome, A Taste of Blood, Something Weird, Monster a-Go-Go), Toni Newsholme (How to Make a Doll). Herschell reused a lot of the same cast members for his other movies, which is fortunate, because most of them may never have worked again otherwise.
The special effects, while revolutionary, aren't especially good. This aspect I'm inclined to cut a little slack on, because it's a damn sight harder to get your effects right when you're having to invent them on the spot, than it is to copy what a hundred other guys have already done. Not too surprisingly, because it was 1963, the blood is a really vibrant red (a problem that pretty much wasn't fixed in any horror flick until the 1980s), although you certainly can't fault the volume being used. The title definitely doesn't disappoint on that front, cause this movie's got a hell of a lot of it. Other than the blood, you've got the opening eye gouge scene (which is difficult to gauge because you're basically looking at an amorphous blob covered in blood), the sawed off legs (probably one of the better effects in the movie), the brains being pulled out of a skull (I dunno what they used, but it sure doesn't look much like a brain), a stab wound to a chest (the wound is fine, the plastic knife handle, not so much), the famous de-tongueing scene (easily the best effect in the movie, for which they used a real sheep's tongue), some severed limbs/guts used in Fuad's kitchen (these aren't too bad, just fair though), and a severed heart (which, other than being too small, is pretty good, probably an animal's heart from a butcher shop). Really it's that super vibrant blood that hurts it worse than anything. The shooting locations are fine, but like the plot, have little bearing on the overall movie. Fuad's catering business was obviously a real corner store, so it's authentic in that it was definitely real, though it doesn't make much sense for a catering service to sell the kind of things that this business does. The "police station" is decidedly unrealistic. I dunno what it actually was, but I'd guess the corner of a library or maybe a hotel lobby. Pretty inept though. Other than those, there's a beach (although I think in one scene they're nowhere near the ocean and just piping in ocean noise), a residence, a motel, and a landfill. Pretty disgusting landfill too, so bonus points for that one. Generally though, not especially helpful for the total score. The soundtrack is really dated, but just strange enough that it fits the tone of the movie pretty well. Most of it is made up of really basic instrumentals, including a slow, rhythmic drum and horn. The bulk of the music, though, is done with an organ, and it's fairly effective at establishing the kind of atmosphere Herschell was going for. Which makes sense, since he composed it. Overall, Blood Feast, despite not being a technically sound production, is tremendously significant in the history of horror, and a lot of fun for a movie of its age. And even though it comes at the expense of no character development or any kind of emotional connection to anyone in the movie, the 67 minute run time ensures the flick never drags. Be sure to check it out, cause it legitimately is one of the movies "they" didn't want you to see.