Blood Feast (Herschell Gordon Lewis / U.S., 1963):

"The first Plague was blood..." The drollery of this rests on the utterly artless transmutation of ancient Egypt to seedy Miami drive-ins, filmed head on and lit like a gas station. The offender is one Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold), "exotic caterer" and author of Ancient Weird Religious Rites, who’s got lead-hued shoe polish on his eyebrows and the tendency to punctuate tirades with piercing chimes from an invisible church organ. From a makeshift shrine behind the canned goods aisle, the goddess Ishtar demands gooey human entrails, Fuad happily obeys. The eviscerations come every ten minutes or so, Grand Guignol equivalents of porno pop shots—a platinum blonde speared in the eye, a bikini babe’s cerebellum spilled in the sand, nine inches of tongue removed from a hussy’s cavernous mouth. "Well, the ancients had many strange cults, honey." The heroine (Connie Mason) is given one glazed expression and way too many clothes, her big-faced beau (Thomas Wood) comprises half of the city’s police department, the centuries-old butcher with a limp outruns them all. Herschell Gordon Lewis’ intentions are as crass and cynical as can be, the thing is intended as a debased tingler on a steady progress toward the trash compactor, and yet the work has the fascination of a beach-party flick full of Rauschenberg splotches. There’s a Frank Tashlin movie somewhere in the machete-wielder’s intrusion into the synthetic late-Fifties décor of a bungalow kitchen: "Saaaay, you wouldn’t be sacrificing me on this altar, would you?" A poem of reds and blues, with a camera that pans over a buffet of severed limbs only to reveal the salad bowl tastefully placed on the edge of the table. With Lyn Bolton, Scott H. Hall, and Christy Foushee.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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