Film Review: Blood Feast (1963)

Release Date: July 6th, 1963
Directed by: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Written by: Allison Louise Downe, David F. Friedman, Herschell Gordon Lewis
Music by: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Cast: William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Connie Mason, Lyn Bolton, Scott H. Hall

Box Office Spectaculars, 67 Minutes


This is one of those movies I have heard about my entire life. People, for years, have talked this thing up. It’s regarded as the first true gore picture. It gave birth to the low brow and easily dismissed splatter pictures that would paint grindhouse cinemas red for a few decades. Blood Feast is considered to be the godfather of it all.

Unfortunately, it is a horrendous picture.

It’s not horrendous because of the blood and guts, it is just poorly written, poorly acted, poorly executed and generally a nonsensical mess. Now I know that you don’t go see these kinds of films with the intent that they are going to be pinnacles of perfection but as a film, Blood Feast fails in just about every way. Except in the gore department.

The film is a measly 67 minutes but anything longer would have been a serious chore to sit through. There are lots of killings and not a lot of plot to get in the way of the gore but none of it is all that exciting. I think that this is one of those movies where people’s memories of it are way more horrific than the picture itself.

Sure, there is a lot of blood. But when I got to the iconic scene of where our killer rips the tongue out of a girl’s throat, you see his back as he is going to work and then it cuts to the killer holding a lumpy stringy steak covered in blood as the girl lays, mouth agape, pouring out blood. It is graphic, for sure, but you never actually see the tongue pulled from out of the woman’s mouth. A lot of people I talked to, seem to remember seeing the killer actually rip it out of her mouth. Then again, maybe that was filmed and released and the modern prints of the film omit it. This is really just semantics but it is similar to how people remind The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as a gore fest but it isn’t, at all. Blood Feast at least lives up to its name, regardless, as it is a film pretty much submerged in blood.

This was not a film that was made to be anything artistic. It was made for exploitation purposes and to make as much money as possible by costing next to nothing to produce and selling itself on shock value. In that regard, it is effective and I can’t knock the movie. Expecting anything more than blood, guts and splatter is foolish. This delivers on what it was intended to be.

Now that I’ve seen the film, I can check it off of my cinematic bucket list. Although, I’ll probably never have the urge to watch it again. Unless I were to one day host a gore film festival or if this was playing in a theater somewhere near me.

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