Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis [Other horror films: Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Monster a-Go Go (1965), Color Me Blood Red (1965), A Taste of Blood (1967), The Gruesome Twosome (1967), Something Weird (1967), The Wizard of Gore (1970), The Gore Gore Girls (1972), Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002), The Uh-oh Show (2009), Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania (2017)]
H.G. Lewis’ first splatter flick is a trashy, stilted, and overall, a rather awful film. And I love every second of it.
The gore isn’t as heavy here as it is in later films of his (such as The Wizard of Gore, a personal favorite of mine), but for the 1960’s, the gore is rather shocking, and it helps that the film’s in color (which wasn’t a given during this tumultuous time period), giving the murder sequences additional good effect.
The story itself feels stagy, and the performances mostly stilted. William Kerwin (who has appeared in a bunch of later horror films, such as Two Thousand Maniacs!, A Taste of Blood, God’s Bloody Acre, The Shadow of Chikara, and Whiskey Mountain) was very generic in his role, and had little character. His girlfriend, played by Connie Mason (who was also in Two Thousand Maniacs!), was little better.
Mal Arnold was ridiculous as Faud Ramses, and overly hammy, which was sort of charming. Kudos mostly go to Gene Courtier, though, who gave one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a film. These performances led to, as I said, a more stagy feel, which was amplified by the very cheap look of the sets in the film. It wasn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it definitely stuck out.
The first of the ‘Blood Trilogy’ (followed by Two Thousand Maniacs! and Color Me Blood Red in 1964 and 1965), Blood Feast isn’t a great movie, or even a good one. The effects, as gory as they are, look pretty bad, even by contemporary standards. The acting is pretty terrible, and the plot’s paper-thin. Given all of this, though, Blood Feast is still a classic in many ways. It had a lot of heart, and pretty graphic imagery for the time. H.G. Lewis improves with his follow-up to the trilogy, but Blood Feast alone is moderately compelling, if you don’t mind some shoddy film-making.