BLOOD FEAST (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963)
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Friday, November 25, and Saturday, November 26, 12:20 am
We have a bone to pick with Nitehawk Cinema. One of the Brooklyn movie house’s signature series is “Film Feast,” in which they invite chefs to serve specially created meals for specific films, inspired by what’s happening onscreen; for example, on December 13, Richard Donner’s Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, will be shown with a gourmet menu that includes courses named “The Night the Reindeer Died” and “Buy Me a Goose.” So what is Blood Feast, chopped liver? How could this cult classic, widely considered the first splatter horror movie ever made, not make it into the “Film Feast” series? On November 25 and 26 just past midnight, Nitehawk is presenting a 35mm print of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s low-budget, somewhat tongue-in-cheek (or, as you’ll see, tongue-out-of-cheek) gorefest, which stars Lewis regular Mal Arnold (Scum of the Earth!, the nudie musical Goldilocks and the Three Bares) as Fuad Ramses, the limping owner of an “exotic” food store and catering business. Oh, he’s also a homicidal maniac. When the high-falutin’ Mrs. Dorothy Fremont (Lyn Bolton) asks him to cater a party she is throwing for her daughter, Suzette (Connie Mason of Lewis’s 2000 Maniacs), Ramses, who has been killing and cutting up women, sees it as the opportunity he’s been waiting for, to serve an Egyptian feast for the first time in five thousand years in order to bring the goddess Ishtar, Mother of the Veiled Darkness, back to life. (Yes, Ishtar; we’re not kidding.) Meanwhile, Miami detective Pete Thornton (longtime character actor and writer William Kerwin) and the dimwitted police captain (Scott H. Hall) are on the case — well, sort of, as they’re not exactly the brightest bulbs when it comes to putting two and two together. Nor is Suzette, who offers up this lulu: “I was reading about all those murders, and it sort of takes all the joy out of everything.”
Blood Feast might have historical significance in the slasher genre, but it’s a terrible movie, with embarrassingly bad acting, wooden dialogue by screenwriter (Allison) Louise Downe (Lewis’s She-Devils on Wheels, The Gruesome Twosome, and others), convoluted plot twists, and dense-headed camerawork by Lewis (who also composed the creepy score and is the voice on the radio), who died this past September at the age of ninety after having made approximately three dozen films, including The Gore Gore Girls, Color Me Blood Red, and, in 2002 after a thirty-year hiatus, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, with J. P. Delahoussaye as Fuad Ramses III and John Waters as a reverend. Which brings us back to Nitehawk’s “Film Feast” series and its monstrous decision not to have Blood Feast be an obvious part of it. Hey, so what’s a little cannibalism among friends? “Nitehawk Midnite Screenings” continues in December with such other thrillers as Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, Nicolas Pesce’s The Eyes of My Mother, and Freddie Francis’s 1972 Tales from the Crypt.