Blood Feast

Rated NR

Director Herschell Gordon Lewis is one of the great geniuses of American cinema. Realizing that people would pay money to see hastily made schlock and shock, he invented the gore movie in 1963 with Blood Feast, a wretched exercise in splattery excess. The story, about an attempt to resurrect an ancient Egyptian goddess by using body parts from young women, is just an excuse for tossing buckets and buckets of blood around. What makes Lewis’ films so engaging, though, is the blatant cheapness. Actors flub lines; a coffee shop is used as the set for a police station; and ragged pans direct the eye to ill-prepared action sequences. Lewis had a stunning ability to reduce cinema to its most inexpensive elements, understanding that people didn’t walk out on movies because of bad acting or sloppy camerawork, as long as something sexual, violent or unsavory was happening on screen. Kudos to you, Mr. Lewis! And if you get a chance, rent his masterpiece She-Devils on Wheels. It epitomizes Lewis’ strategy of never wasting money on a second take.

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