Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Film Gore Decried

After its initial 1963 run, Blood Feast continued playing double and triple bills throughout the 1960s (and early 1970s). It also continued to generate controversy. In the clip below, it's name-checked in a letter to the Walla Walla, Wash., Union Bulletin, decrying the depiction of screen violence at a time when there was so much of the real stuff going on. The letter is signed by two men claiming affiliation with the University of Washington, but the flowery language could be an indication that the letter was a "plant" from a distributor or a local exhibitor looking to drum up business.

Friday, July 26, 2013

H.G. Lewis on the Small Screen

The very first interview I ever read with H.G. Lewis was in the RE/Search book Incredibly Strange Films. The very first time I ever heard the man speak was on the British TV program "The Incredibly Strange Film Show," which was syndicated in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel cable network. The series served as a fantastic primer for the films of everyone from Fred Olen Ray and Ray Dennis Steckler, to Sam Raimi and Tsui Hark. The Lewis episode briefly covers his entire career (up to that point), and even includes a tour of Miami's Suez Motel, conducted by Blood Feast star William Kerwin.

I've included a clip from that episode below, but you can find the entire episode (in four parts) here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Castle of Frankenstein vs. Blood Feast

 Most of the press coverage Blood Feast received during its initial run focused on its graphic content, dust-ups with local censor boards, and battles over its graphic advertising. There were very few actual reviews of the film that we've been able to turn up. One of the few contemporary reviews from the fan press came via Calvin Beck's erratically published Castle of Frankenstein (issue #6, published in 1964).

The brief review is quoted below, followed by a review of H.G. Lewis' 2,000 Maniacs (in release at the same time), and a related blurb from Joe Dante. (Special thanks to friend of the blog Terry Maher, for making his back issues of CoF available to us.)

Blood Feast -- (58m. -- BoxOffice Spectaculars -- 1964). Color. Thoroughly revolting, inept grade-Z horror garbage. Madman tries to restore life to Egyptian Love Goddess by synthesizing the organs and drippy entrails of pretty girls. You won't believe it until you see it; looks like amateur night at the butcher shop. Strong stomachs only - Yecchh. Connie Mason (of PLAYBOY fame), Thomas Wood, Scott Arnold.

2000 Maniacs -- (84m. -- Box Office Spec. -- 1964). Color. Unbelievable, incredibly sadistic blood-&-guts shocker by producers of "Blood Feast." Modern Southern city, massacred by Northern troops during the Civil War, now takes revenge by mutilating visiting Northerners. Color cameras dwell lovingly on torn limbs, mashed torsos and gory entrails. Vigorously anti-Southern, ineptly made grade-C horror. All the more offensive because film has something to say and has chosen this way to say it. Connie Mason, Thomas Wood.

We'll forgive the reviewer for slightly garbling the plot of 2,000 Maniacs (it's not a modern Southern city; it's a literal ghost town that revives on the anniversary of the slaughter) since they rated it a "grade-C" horror film, an improvement over the "Z" grade handed to Blood Feast. Still, calling the film "anti-Southern" is a mis-reading of both Lewis' intentions and his audience's reaction; 2,000 Maniacs may be the most fully realized neo-Confederate revenge fantasy ever committed to film.

On the very same page where these reviews appeared, Joe Dante contributed a small blurb of text that provides some interesting information re: Blood Feast and the New York-lensed Flesh Eaters:

The National Association of Broadcasters has warned TV stations to beware of the following TV trailers:
BLOOD FEAST: "A tableau of carnage and badness ... brutally staged in Color" which heart patients should beware at all costs, says the NAB.
FLESH EATERS: An announcer says "If you can't stand the sight of flesh being stripped from a human body please leave the room." A scene from the picture follows: an actor whose flesh is burning screams "Something is inside me ... eating its way out!"
One of these films got the full cover-story treatment from one of our "competitors" ... 6 pages plus cover, in fact. Makes you wonder what standards of criticism they have over there.
-- Joe Dante --

Wow -- Blood Feast had a TV trailer? Dante is taking a swipe at issue 29 of Famous Monsters of Filmland, which included lengthy coverage of Flesh Eaters.

Finally, if anyone has come across any other reviews of Blood Feast published during its 1963/1964 run, please send links, copies, or any other material to us at

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Bog (1983)

I can't tell you how sad I am that I can't find a trailer for this Wisconsin-lensed monster flick, which not only has a fantastically bad monster, but also appearances by Aldo Ray, Leo Gordon, Marshall Thompson, and Gloria DeHaven (in a dual role!). At least I can share this clip.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blood Feast Comes to Peoria

In 2003, Brian Sieworiek of WCBU, the NPR affiliate in Peoria, Ill., put together this brief story about the film's debut at the local Bellevue Drive-In in July 1963. (The Bellevue was owned by Stanford Kohlberg, who helped bankroll several H.G. Lewis/David Friedman films.)

You can listen to the story on SoundCloud by following the link below:

02 Blood Feast Anniversary

For more on the film's anniversary, see this post over at Roger Ebert's website by Simon Abrams.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

BoxOffice Tackles Blood Feast

Blood Feast finally began its journey into general release at the end of 1963. Here is what the BoxOffice reviewer thought of it:

Blood Feast
Boxoffice Spectaculars, 71 Minutes, Rel. Sept. 1963

With as much "built-in" selling factors as any imaginative showman would desire, this Friedman-Lewis production, listing David F. Friedman as producer and Herschell G. Lewis as both director and photographer, will be remembered for its gory content long after the run-of-the-mill horror efforts have played out their modest boxoffice billings. It may well set a new precedent, a new pace, for this particular genre, as popular as ever, the while serving to introduce playboy Magazine-famed Connie Mason as the gal on whom the eyes of evil -- Mal Arnold, a fanatic devil-cult worshipper -- cast an understandably appreciative glance. Significantly, the story-line -- credited to A. Louise Downe -- doesn't grunt and groan for mere effect; it relates circumstances with a ringing clarity and precision that should delight the most professed fanciers of horror entertainment, and since Friedman-Lewis forces have wisely incorporated color (Eastman) in their budget, the effect is even more memorable. Mal Arnold, as the chap not inclined to overlook killing nubile young girl victims in an orgy of brutal slaughter, is cold bloodedly efficient.


Street gag -- complete with flowing cloak, sandwich sign -- is very much in order. Station "doctors" and "nurses" in the lobby opening day, dispensing free "nerve pills."


An Admonition: If you are a parent or guardian of an impressionable adolescent, DOT NOT BRING HIM or PERMIT HIM to see this motion picture!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Brain That Couldn't Keep Its Shirt On

Shout! Factory continues to impress with its unending deluge of genre titles. This summer saw the release of Charles B. Pierce's The Town that Dreaded Sundown (featuring an essay by yours truly as a bonus feature) along with The Evictors.

In September, the label is releasing two budget multi-film packs under the "Movies 4 You - Sci-Fi Classics," which will include eight titles. Some of these were previously released under the "Midnight Movies" banner, but a few are new to disc.

But the biggest news regarding these collections is that the second volume will not only include the New York schlock classic The Brain that Wouldn't Die, but also that film's long-rumored (and long-missing) racy "international" footage featuring actress Adele Lamont with slightly less clothing than in the U.S. version. According to Shout!'s own Cliff MacMillan that footage will be included as an extra (it's also missing its soundtrack).

Volume 1 includes Beyond the Time Barrier (a low-budget film shot in Texas), The Angry Red Planet, The Man From Planet X, and The Time Travelers; volume two also has another Texas film, The Amazing Transparent Man, along with Reptilicus and The Neanderthal Man.

In August, Shout!'s Scream Factory imprint will release another four pack, the "All Night Horror Marathon," which includes The Outing (1987), yet another Texas film, and The Vagrant (1992), which was written by Scarecrows (1988) scribe Richard Jeffries.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

Low-budget Texas sci-fi, from the same folks who brought you The Amazing Transparent Man.