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Blood Feast (1963)
Director: H.G. Lewis

review by Jeff Young

One of the great cult favourites rediscovered by horror fans during the 1980s video boom, this is generally praised (if that's the right word) for being the first proper gore movie, though its transgressions seem mild by today's standards.
   It has a curious plot; that of an exotic caterer, Fuad Ramses, hired to cook a pharaoh's dinner for a young girl's birthday party, who takes his preparation of authentic cuisine very seriously indeed. In being faithful to ancient Egyptian recipes for the festival of goddess Ishtar, the butcher sets about getting his vital ingredients from the still-living bodies of women - hacking off legs, scooping out brains, ripping out a heart, pulling out a tongue, and whipping one screaming prisoner insensible before draining her blood.
   In the end, of course, a local police detective tracks him down (putting the relevant facts together after attending a lecture on Egyptology), and the killer is pursued from the home of his host, where the final murder - a sacrifice in a kitchen - was about to take place. The serial killer meets his own death, quite poetically, considering the camp style and shocking content of this horror movie's theme, by compacting machinery in the back of a rubbish collection vehicle.
   Showing what Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho only dared hint at two years earlier, Blood Feast features acting of a quality you may expect of waxworks or clothing shop window dummies, yet it maintains a certain hypnotic power that's compelling enough whatever else one may think of it. The outlandish tone set by its performances, and the camera's unhealthy dwelling on the clever positioning of bloodstained corpses is entertaining, still.
previously published online, VideoVista #29
Blood Feast
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