My notes on the remake of Blood Feast
Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1963 Blood Feast is what it is – and is probably beyond criticism in that it sets out to be shoddy and minimalist in every aspect aside from .precedent-setting gore. Lewis wittily compared it to a Walt Whitman poem ‘it’s no good but it’s the first of its kind, and so deserves some respect’ – though self-mythologising creeps into self-deprecation in the much-quoted statement, and the rest of Lewis’s wayward career offers stranger, stronger meat even if his work is seldom as powerful in action as it is conceptually. Over the years, there have been several attempts to mount sequels or remakes to the property – Jackie Kong’s Blood Diner (1987) started out as an official follow-up but was shifted mid-production into being a homage, while Lewis was eventually persuaded to direct the fairly forgettable Blood Feast 2 All You Can Eat. Given that there have already been remakes of Lewis’s Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Wizard of Gore, it was inevitable that rights would get sorted out and Blood Feast would get dropped from the dwindling list of horror tentpoles left well enough alone by the remakers.
It’s fallen to German filmmaker Marcel Walz – who has made a bunch of homegrown splatter films (Road Rip, Tortura, La Petite Morte, Der Fluch der Grete Muller) and a sequel to Uwe Boll’s Seed – to bring back mad caterer Fuad Rameses and preside over the tongue-ripping action. It feels as if Walz has cast the film by wandering around an autograph convention and signing up the first what-have-they-been-doing-since-the-80s faces he recognised, so Rameses is played by Robert Rusler (secondary characters in A Nightmare on Elm St 2 and Vamp) with Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and – to her credit – some interesting recent choices, like Contracted and Tales of Halloween) as his newly-written-in wife. Doubtless for financing reasons, the story is switched from Miami to Paris, with Rameses opening an American diner and going off his meds, which means he has visions of the Goddess Ishtar (Sadie Katz, from Wrong Turn 6) exhorting him to kill folks and assemble the famous blood feast.
In an effort to tighten the storyline, heroine Penny (Sophie Monk, who distinctly resembles Connie Mason in the first film) is the daughter of the villain – and his victim pool are drawn from her Parisian friends – and the cop hero (Roland Freitag) is her boyfriend. Surprisingly, the first half dawdles a bit as Rusler earnestly cracks up and sub-plots grind on … then, the killings start and it sinks in that tongues being ripped out aren’t as shocking as they once were, even if the effects are better nowadays. Rusler seems to be taking it seriously, as if he weren’t going to let this rare top-billed vehicle get away from him, and gives a reasonable performance … but it’s still a schlock film, and only intermittently fun. Lewis has a skyped-in cameo as Professor Lou Herschell. Co-written by Philip Lilienschwarz.
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