evolved from a purveyor of nudie cuties into the “Godfather of Gore,”
eventually transforming into an internet marketing guru. Herschell Gordon Lewis
always had a good sense of where a buck could be made. Today, we’re here for
the gore. Notoriously graphic in its day (be forewarned, a cow’s tongue will
stand-in for the human article), Lewis’s groundbreaking Blood Feast screens as part of the Anthology Film Archives’ Industrial Terror film series (not safe for
lunch trailer here).
is killing and dismembering the young women of Miami. That would be Fuad
Ramses, an Egyptian caterer, who is stocking up for the cannibalistic smorgasbord
that will be the centerpiece of the resurrection ritual for his mistress, the
goddess Ishtar. He is a sweaty, club-footed sad sack (bizarrely, he looks a
little like Torgo in Manos: the Hands of
Fate and has vaguely similar theme music), but Ramses is still lethal
enough to keep Det. Pete Thornton working overtime. Fortunately, the copper can
rely on the patience and understanding of his new girlfriend Suzette Fremont,
whom he met through their weekly Egyptian Studies lecture series. They are both
crazy about Egyptian culture. So much so, Fremont’s mother seeks out Ramses to
cater a party in Suzette’s honor.
is really no point in pedantically dissecting the narrative inconsistencies of Blood Feast. The whole point was the
splattering gore. Yet, it is a strangely chipper film given the carnage it
unleashes. While Carnival of Souls and
Night of the Living Dead transcended
their budget constraints, Feast really
looks like it was made on the cheap and its ensemble is hardly professional
grade, but it accomplishes everything Lewis set out to do, so there you go.
question, the best known cast-member is former Playboy Playmate Connie Mason. Ordinarily, the Playmate thespian does
not inspire much confidence, but she is far from the worst offender when it comes
to awkward line readings—far, far from the worst. You could even argue she adds
an upbeat, appealing presence, but that is admittedly grading on a steep curve.
today’s standards, the Godfather’s gore looks quite amateurish, but we had to
start somewhere. This is a pretty bad film according to just about any rational
criteria, but it has been truly influential, paving the way for every explicit
horror film that followed. You have to laugh at it, but it is way too much for
a show like MST3K to handle. Given
Lewis’s cult following, any serious horror film cineaste will have to deal with
it at some point, so the Industrial
Terror film series is probably the perfect venue to bite the bullet. It
screens with Carving Magic, a short Lewis
whipped up for Swift & Co. teaching the proper technique for carving meat.
That’s right, meat carving. What more needs to be said? For exploitation fans
in need of some sleaze, they screen together this Friday (10/24) and Monday
(10/27) at Anthology Film Archives.
Labels: Anthology Film Archives, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Horror Movies, Industrial Terror