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 firstname.lastname@example.org.