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By Excess Hollywood | August 1, 2007

“”Blood Feast,” a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, is not a good movie. It’s barely even a passable movie. It does have something about it, however, that makes it a horror film of note. It was the first to introduce gore to the masses.

Up until “”Blood Feast,” Lewis was known for doing nudie cuties. When he realized there was money to be made in horror, he decided the best way to do that would be to take things down the red route and make no apologies for it. Hence “”Blood Feast,” a movie with the standard incomprehensible, logic defying story that you find in most of Lewis’ fun, but harmless films.

The plot is simple. A caterer uses hypnotism to help kill nubile young women for a cannibalistic feast to bring back some Egyptian god. Bad acting, static camerawork and laughable production values follow. Normally, the promise of a horror movie and cute girls would be more than enough to fill some seats, but Lewis promised more in this film. He promised copious amounts of bloodshed, and when audiences saw that he delivered, word of mouth quickly spread. It wasn’t just a few seats that were filled, it was packed drive-ins throughout the South.

The impact of Lewis’ movie seems minimal; not many directors will cop to being influenced by it. It did show, however, that there is an audience — good or bad — for gore. The effects didn’t have to be particularly good, either. At least not at the beginning. (Audiences grew more savvy, however, and demanded that the special effects be even more bloody and believable.) Other directors, now knowing that gore would attract a crowd, responded in kind. That is the lasting impact of “”Blood Feast.”

Lewis, not surprisingly, stuck to the gore for a few years. And while most critics have not been kind to his films, he knew what would draw in an audience. Whether it was enticing titles (“”Two Thousand Maniacs!,” which is actually a good film) or the promise of hacked limbs, Lewis used those over plot and plausibility and it somehow worked for him.

Lewis may never get the credit he deserves, and that shouldn’t matter. Critics and fans can say what they want about “”Blood Feast,” but it opened the doors, and gorehounds have been reaping the benefits ever since.

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  1. steve says:

    ““Two Thousand Maniacs!,” which is actually a good film”

    Ohhhh-kayyy. I guess the concept of “good” varies a lot.

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