Blood Feast

I have seen many stupid movies in my life. Being a dedicated horror fan means that a certain amount of stupidity is unavoidable. I’ve seen movies with titles such as Rabid Grannies, Satan’s Princess and The Toxic Avenger, but before this week I’d never seen a Herschell Gordon Lewis film.

Herschell Gordon Lewis was a pioneer in the horror movie industry. Possessor of both an M.A. and a PhD (in different fields!), he was an advertising executive who wrote books about junk mail. In the early 60’s he also started making his own movies. His horror movies are amateurishly made affairs featuring awful acting and bad writing. They’re also full of blood and over-the-top gore, which back in the early 60’s was a new thing.

Blood Feast is Herschell Gordon Lewis’ first horror movie ā€“ his earlier efforts seem to be mostly nudist camp films. But as we know and Mr. Lewis discovered, red-blooded Americans crave violence far more than sex. Blood Feast was a hit at drive-ins across our great nation!

This movie stars Mal Arnold as Fuad Ramses, exotic caterer, who wants to make an Egyptian feast worthy of the gods. This involves using various sharp implements to harvest body parts from young, nubile women. Yeah, about those young, nubile women – for a guy who cut his teeth directing movies about naked couples playing volleyball, Lewis’ films are hideously unsexy. He makes up for it with some truly over-the-top gore, including a tongue ripping out scene that grossed even me out.

The acting in Blood Feast is awful, but I want to give a special shout-out to Mal Arnold, who sports a bad Bela Lugosi accent and walks around with a limp. All that said, I enjoyed this movie. Blood Feast has a sly sense of humor which I truly didn’t expect. It’sĀ  campy as hell, a ‘good’ bad movie, and I liked it more than anything Ed Wood ā€“ our country’s other celebrated ‘bad’ director ā€“ has ever made.

Don’t Look Up

I found Don’t Look Up on Shudder Streaming, which apparently is slightly different from the Shudder you get on Amazon. If you want to see the latest movies Shudder has purchased, subscribe to them directly. Anyway, Don’t Look Up was directed by Hideo Nakato, who directed Ringu (good) and Dark Water (excellent!). This movie shares plot elements and character archetypes with these later films. Apparently they did an English language remake, but I don’t know whether it was any good.

The plot: Toshio is directing a period drama about a pair of sisters. When watching footage of one of their just filmed scenes, he sees superimposed footage of an old TV show. This is the same show that scared the crap out of Toshio as a kid. Note: I think they see the footage because the studio reused old film, but I might not have understood the explanation correctly. Anyway, a strange woman in white lurks in the periphery of that footage.

Lurking on the periphery is a good way to describe what goes on in Don’t Look Up. The woman in white starts hanging around the set; she seems to enjoy the turrets. Things take a tragic turn when there’s an accident with one of the actresses, and a spooky turn when Toshio learns that the TV show he saw as a kid was never aired because another actress suffered the selfsame accident.

Don’t Look Up is an entertaining ghost story. Toshio and one of his actresses apparently have a mutual thing for each other (at least that’s how I understood it), but neither ever says anything. The movie doesn’t explain itself and the ending was not at all what I expected, but I mean both of these things in a good way.

Don’t Look Up is worth checking out, especially if you like J-horror!