Blood Feast Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Gundo Entertainment
Directed by Marcel Walz
Written by Philip Lilienschwarz and Marcel Walz
2016, 90 minutes, Not yet rated
Robert Rusler as Fuad Ramses
Caroline Williams as Louise Ramses
Sophie Monk as Penny Ramses
Sadie Katz as The Goddess Ishtar
“Ladies and gentlemen. You’re about to witness a motion picture that is violent and extremely graphic, truly horrific and contains sick and demented scenes. You have been warned.”
Audience duly forewarned, so kicks off Marcel Walz’s remake of the Herschell Gordon Lewis cult ‘classic’ of the same name. Shade is indeed thrown with the inverted commas there, 1963’s Blood Feast being one of the more unwatchable pieces of trash I have ever wasted an evening with (until the sequel, that is, which is even worse). Nevertheless, Gordon Lewis deserves his reputation as creator of the Grand Guignol movement, Blood Feast (and the vaguely superior Two Thousand Maniacs!) being a singular work of splatter which at least commits to its gore with gusto and verve.
This remake offers the opportunity of seeing that same film presented with production values and name actors. For better or worse, the story follows roughly the same template, with hard-working American diner owner and chef Fuad Ramses (a name I am glad they kept) topping up his meat supply with the flesh of his customers. Working split shifts there and at the local museum, he becomes drawn to the Goddess Ishtar, for whom he begins preparing the titular feast. Oh yes, there will be blood.
The remake dances a fine line between cheap and slick, being just professional enough that it’s watchable and engaging, yet not so much that it stops feeling like Blood Feast. After all, much of the ‘charm’ of a Gordon Lewis film is in it being shoestring rubbish with exceptionally good blood and gore. While Walz’s direction favours a few too many dutch angles and too much shaky camerawork, it’s always crisp and technically watchable. His game is also improved with the inclusion of real (albeit cult) name actresses such as Caroline Williams, Sadie Katz and Sophie Monk. And of course, there’s Robert Rusler as Ramses himself – gay love interest Ron Grady from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and the Best Nightmare on Elm Street Sequel (Yeah, I Said It). Not an Egyptian amongst the lot of them, but a talented cast and fantastically hammy performers, one and all. Mmmm... ham.
No-one’s watching a Blood Feast remake for the direction, acting or story though. It’s the gore which everyone has come to see, and the hill upon which this film will live or die. While it doesn’t exactly disappoint, horror cinema has been well and truly through its gorno phase since Gordon Lewis’s time, leaving the remake without much to offer in terms of novelty value. Worse, the blood effects go a little too realistic, lacking the vivid touch of the original films. Utter rubbish it might be, but I felt physically sick watching the bright and sticky Blood Feast 2, where this feels like just another grim Hostel. That said, a guy’s dick is cut off in gruesome detail, so it’s not as though Blood Feast ’16 skimps on the goods either.
Tonally, this is a big problem. It combines the visuals, atmosphere and violence of modern torture shlock (it’s essentially an Elisha Cuthbert movie from 2007) with the goofy story of 1960s-1970s splatter; ball gags and stupid Egyptian goddesses at the same time. On the one hand it has Ramses stalking pretty young kids with a blade and a creepy animal mask – then, on the other, Sadie Katz dressed up like Cleopatra. It’s the look and mood of a straight horror film crossed with a retro, ironic comedy horror movie. Thankfully, though, the comedy cops are kept to a minimum.
While Blood Feast is far more bearable than its predecessor, it’s unlikely to win the series any fans. For a film about a man murdering innocents and sacrificing their guts to an Egyptian goddess, it’s disappointingly dour, livening up only for the ridiculous (but still not good) finale. And, being predicated on its splatter as it is, it takes a lot of time to actually get down to business. Few may have tuned in specifically for the acting, but it’s for this you’ll stay – most notably Caroline Williams, giving it her all as usual, even where the film is less than deserving.
Still, carving steaks out of a lady’s butt cheeks is about as Herschell Gordon Lewis as one can get. Ultimately it lives up to the Blood Feast name just fine.
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