Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast comes to high definition with a Blu-ray release from Arrow.
Police are confounded by a series of unusual and gruesome murders of young women. Meanwhile, Dorothy Fremont (Lyn Bolton) is planning a party for her daughter Suzette (Connie Mason). On the recommendation of a friend, she hires the sinister Faud Rameses (Mal Arnold) to cater for the event. But Faud is an Egyptian history obsessive and the food he makes may be a little more unusual than the guests are used to.
Blood Feast holds an esteemed place in horror cinema history; by being regarded as being the first splatter film, made in 1963. Let’s get it right out there. Blood Feast is trash. But it’s fun trash. Probably the best known of Gordon Lewis’ filmography, it doesn’t hold up now, and it doesn’t hold up with other films of its time, especially with Psycho and Peeping Tom being released three years earlier. The dialogue is poorly written and delivered stiltedly by a cast who almost entirely seem like they’ve graduated from the Tommy Wiseau School of Amateur Acting. The score is overblown, punctuated by stabs of wobbly organ. We don’t even get to see the actual Blood Feast! But this all adds to its charm. There are plenty of laughs to be had, even if they are partly at the expense of the filmmaking. Faud has written a book with the uninspiring but very literal title of Ancient Weird Religious Rites. The blood and gore is wonderfully vibrant, with lurid reds practically glowing from the screen. At a brisk hour and ten minutes, it zips by and heads for the exit before wearing your attention thin.
How much you’ll enjoy Blood Feast is entirely down to your patience and enjoyment of B-movies, in all their low budget, poor production glory. If you’re a fan of the usual releases from Arrow, then you’ll probably get a kick out of it.
The disc is the usual great package from Arrow. The transfer is lovely, bright and clear for a film of this age, and the extras are extensive. There’s a wealth of features in the film and Herschell Gordon Lewis, as well as archive footage of interviews with the man himself. Most wonderfully, you get a whole extra film for your money; Gordon Lewis’s Scum of the Earth.
It’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but if you’re in the right mood, Blood Feast is an enjoyable and short watch.
BLOOD FEAST / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS / SCREENPLAY: ALLISON LOUISE DOWNE / STARRING: WILLIAM KERWIN, MAL ARNOLD, CONNIE MASON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW