Blood Feast - Special Edition (1963)

Maniacal Eastern caterer Fuad Ramses limps about Miami, killing young women and carrying off certain of their body parts to the back of his store, where he has set up a makeshift shrine to the Egyptian goddess Ishtar. The amputated parts will serve as his Blood Feast, an ancient rite that will gain him... something or other. The authorities - both of them - are baffled! A Playmate tries to act! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

Come on, no one is going to watch Blood Feast for the story. They're here for the gore, as this movie is identifiably the first, the grandpappy of all gore films. While the story and the acting are risible in the extreme (except for star William Kerwin - he's better than he needs to be), the gore effects have a primitive, gleeful sloppiness to them that can be pretty disturbing. If you want to see a piece of history, where it all began, then you should see Blood Feast. If you're hosting a Bad Movie Night and your guests can withstand the gore, then you should see Blood Feast. But if you want to see a good horror movie with good acting, compelling story and even average production values, you should look elsewhere. Disney, perhaps.

This is absolutely no reason for this movie to look this good. For the most part, this pressing of Blood Feast looks like it was filmed last week, not nearly forty years ago. Colors are bright, the picture is clear - though grain crops up in some night scenes - the quality is simply wonderful to behold. In fact, the movie looks just a little *too* good - for instance, it is more obvious than ever before that villain Ramses' gray hair is achieved by dint of white shoe polish. There is some occasional dust spotting, but Good Lord! Did they have this thing stored in a vacuum?

This Special Edition does have some nice features. There's the theatrical trailer, with William Kerwin giving the famous, straight-to-the-camera, doctor-telling-you-to-lose-weight-serious spiel about small children and people with heart conditions leaving the theater for the next 90 seconds.

There is a fairly extensive gallery of promotional materials from various of the H.G.Lewis/David Friedman flicks, but these move through at their own rate, and how useful, really, is a shot of an entire page (or two) of a pressbook, which defies clear digital zooming? The occasional blow- ups of individual ads, when they happen, are quite welcome. There is also an astounding FORTY-SEVEN MINUTES of "Rare Outtakes". These are presented in no particular order, and worse yet, are silent, with music and dialogue from this and other Lewis films dubbed over. Some are interesting alternate angles or scenes of supposedly dead actresses unable to hold their breath; most however, are simply static dialogue shots where somebody apparently flubbed their line. I hung around for twenty minutes. Your mileage may vary.

An audio commentary track features director H.G. Lewis and producer David Friedman, with Something Weird Video's Mike Vraney acting as a moderator. The only bad thing about this track is that Vraney is better miked than Friedman, in fact his comments often run to the over-modulated end of the sound spectrum. Past that, Vraney doesn't have to prod much, as Lewis and Friedman are both born raconteurs with a ton of interesting stories each. I hope the other Blood Trilogy DVDs that Something Weird is producing (Two Thousand Maniacs! and Color Me Blood Red) have commentary tracks of similar quality, though with better sound control.

My favorite extra, though (because it is the most perverse) is the inclusion of an educational film, Carving Magic. "Home Economist Extraordinaire Martha Logan" fills us in on the proper way to carve meat from "the five meat groups". It's here because it features Blood Feast star William Kerwin (and pre-fame Harvey Korman!) as the poor schlub whose mangling of the dinner turkey are the stuff of legend until Martha puts him right. This period piece is a vegetarian's nightmare, with its long, loving close-ups of huge slabs of protein, always with a over-generous helping of fat clinging to it. You will feel your arteries begin to slam shut in sympathy; but just keep repeating: "It's only a movie... only a movie... only a movie..."

Dr. Freex, 5/25/00

Running Time: 67 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR - a possible NC-17 for "tone"
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.99

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