Sunday, 26 February 2017

DPP72: Blood Feast

 Blood Feast is one of the oldest films on the dpp72 list which would make some think that it would be one of the tamest but if you were under the belief that its age would get in its way then you’re wrong. Inside the first 5 minutes you see a murder and then you see a body be partially carved up. It is generally considered to be the very first splatter film. I did consider making this the first of the DPP72 films I talked about due to its age but decided I would rather go with something more well known to start with.

The concept for Blood Feast arose in the early 1960s, three years after the release of director Alfred Hitchcock’s famous horror film Psycho. Apparently one of the films writers Herschell Gordon Lewis had seen Psycho and felt that the film had cheated by showing the results of the murders in the film without actually showing them happening. He apparently felt that it had been done in this way because Hitchcock simply could not risk getting turned down by theatres. So the idea was that this film would be a sort of Psycho which didn’t cheat, it would show the murders as well as the aftermath of them.

I hate to think that I might come across as being full of my own self importance or that I feel that things are as simple as wrong and right or black and white but as far as I am concerned Herschell Gordon Lewis didnt understand what Hitchcock had done or achieved. I feel that the man is as entitled to his oppinon as I am mine but I think Hitchcock was simply smart enough to know that sometimes less is in fact more. I think Psycho manages to be scary on a deep level rather than just on a simply shocking one.

The above fact that this was almost written as some kind of response to Psycho is going to make people try to compare the two on at least some level and it’s not a comparison that is going to do this film any favours in my oppinion. Psycho had a budget of $806,947. Blood Feast had the much lower budget of $24,500. Now I am not saying that a low budget means a film is cursed from the beginning, but it can be a factor. There seems to be a lot of over acting in Blood Feast, the Camera is close to the actors at times but there performances the way they are talking and delivering lines feels like they are trying to project to a whole theatre. The film shows more than Pscyho but I feel this comes off as less. Yes you see the gore but you also see the killer straight away, this somehow robs you of the feeling of being threatened and stalked which you get from a film like Psycho, they could have showed the blood and the guts and still kept an element of surprise in it. The film just feels cheap because you know who is committing the crimes and your left with little reason to watch it, unless you simply enjoy seeing murder and mayhem for mayhem sake.

There is a scene where the killer is literally scooping up bits of a girls smashed in head in to a bag, you can even see him almost playing with the messy former contents of her head but the music playing in the background is this old fashioned awful organ music which seems to over hammer home the point that oh this is a macabre scary moment not only that but it is seriously headache inducing. This is not the only weird bit of sound which is annoying there is also this these weird gong and drum type noises and slow beats which are just off putting, it’s like it is trying far too hard. When this film invites comparison to Psycho then its music is going to be judged against it as well. Psycho has some of the best music found in film, not only does it perfectly suit the mood of the moments it is used in but it’s used in the right places, played just loud enough to be heard without getting in the way of the film itself. Music can if good and used correctly sublte add to the mood of a scene or film but in this case it seems more like it is pathetically shouting ''look at me im scary look at me im so scary''.

Now one person connected to this film that I have to admit to having a lot of respect for is Producer David F. Friedman who came up with some effective publicity stunts for "Blood Feast" these included giving out vomit bags reading "You may need this when you see 'Blood Feast'" as well as obtaining an injunction against the film in Sarasota, Florida, as a publicity stunt in order to increase interest in the film. How many times have we seen that the banning or restricting of films and other forms of media just leads to an increased intrest in them, this was something he clearly understood and used to his advantage. I have to admit though that I love stuff like the blood bags, I love anything that gives a film a novel feel which comes from its promotion or how it is shown.

It would be easy to really give this film a kicking but it has a sort of homemade feel to it, if you have ever wanted to make your own film and played around with video cameras and your friends then you will realise that even a bad film requires a lot of work and effort.

What needs to be remembered is that without the gore in this film and the whole fuss of the Video Nasties situation this film would have been long forgotten, its prosecution has actually helped it to live for far longer than it otherwise would have. I think what really made people object to this film wasn’t the fact that the director showed you the killings when other films would have merely showed you the aftermath or let you hear a scream in the dark, it was how long the camera choose to stay focused on the hands of the main actor as he played with the gore covered parts. This added nothing to the film, sure at first it was a bit shocking but soon it just felt like the moment was being held on to for too long, I think it helped you to see how fake it all was, if the gore had flashed in front of you and then been removed then you wouldn’t have the time to study it to pick faults with it. Show us enough to tantalise us, for us to make our own pictures in our head instead of showing us the same ones for so long we become bored of them.

I would give this film 3 out of 10. Unless you’re trying to watch all of the video nasties or have another good reason to view it, then just give it a miss and find a better way to spend your time. It is much better seen as a piece of historical cinema than it is as a film as far as I am concerned. A lot of the Video Nasties have this sort of legendary status around them but the truth is that there are a lot of horror films which get the job done with less gore and still manage to be far more frightening for it, I would rather have one Psycho than one hundred films like Blood Feast, I am just the kind of guy who will always take quality over quantity.

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