39 years after Herschell Gordon Lewis’ seminal drive-in/gore flick Blood Feast came his much-anticipated follow-up. It seemed that every year from the early eighties all the way to the new millennium came rumors of H.G.’s , long-awaited sequel to what most horror film fans consider the first splatter movie. Blood Feast was a no-budget, below B-grade horror film made and marketed directly for the drive-in theaters of the 1960’s South. Featuring atrocious acting and even worse effects (think mannequin arms covered in ketchup), the film nevertheless garnered big box office as well as controversy for its never-before-seen level of violence. 20 years after its initial release, and with the advent of home video both the film and its director quickly gained cult status. So as I was discovering Lewis’ films on home video as a teen, just about every issue of Fangoria and Gorezone seemed to carry gossip and rumors of a remake or sequel. By the early 90’s these rumors were also circulating on the Internet.
I remember when Blood Feast 2 finally came out. After being burned by its unofficial 1987 sequel, Blood Diner, I was hesitant to try Lewis’ actual sequel, mostly because I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up to the campy ineptness and bloody fun of the first one. I saw the DVD everywhere and kept ignoring it until recently when I had some extra downtime and nothing in particular to watch. I was surfing Netflix instant movies not expecting to see anything very interesting when I came across Blood Feast 2. I checked out some fan reviews, which were surprisingly positive and then went to IMDb to read some more reviews, also quite positive. Could it be that this film was actually decent? My curiosity finally getting the better of me–and with nothing else to do–I decided to give it a try. So it was that I accidentally discovered a priceless gem that isn’t merely just as good as its predecessor but may be even better.
Make no mistake, Blood Feast 2 keeps to its roots in spectacular fashion. It’s cheap, cheesy, full of shady acting, and quite bloody, with piles of steaming guts spread across the screen. But ol’ H.G. knows his limitations (namely no money for decent actors or anything else), so instead of trying to cover up this limitation by trying too hard to make a "respectable" film, he instead opts to honor his early gore films by spoofing them. And there is no doubt this film is a spectacular spoof. H.G. shows no inhibitions about laughing at himself and because of this he’s made a very fun little film.
The plot is simple: nearly 40 years since the heinous original murders occurred in a small Florida town, the original Fuad Ramses dies, leaving everything to his grandson, also named Fuad Ramses. Now grandson Fuad is a nice guy and all he wants is to open an Egyptian catering business in his grandfather’s old store. Unfortunately, the ancient statue that hypnotized the original Fuad was left in the old store and young Fuad falls under its spell. Along comes young Fuad’s first customers, a family that needs a catered wedding. Fuad eagerly jumps at the chance to make his name, but because he is under the spell of the statue, he keeps killing the bridesmaids to make his yummy catered concoctions. We also have a couple of bumbling cops investigating the murders, along with their sassy secretary who really runs the show. One cop’s father was involved with the original murders and he is convinced that the new Fuad is killing these women; however, his partner–swayed by the tasty treats Fuad feeds him each time the cops visit–insist that it must be a drifter and that Fuad has nothing to do with the murders.
I’m not sure whether to classify this film as a horror film (it isn’t scary) or a comedy (it is intentionally hilarious). But as I said before, regardless of the high gore quotient, this movie truly is a spoof. The leads aren’t half bad as they consistently and zealously overact. I get the feeling that each of the leads is really a decent actor and that Lewis himself coached them to overact. Mark McLachlan who plays the young, overzealous cop Mike Myers (!) is particularly good and an absolute riot as we watch him constantly stroke out over the smallest details. And J.P. Delahoussaye as young Fuad III is also very good as well.
There are tons of in-jokes, one-liners, and funny setpieces. For instance, Mike Myers’ cop partner is "Detective Loomis" while the bridesmaids who get offed have names such as Bambi Deere, Misti Morning, Laci Hundees, Trixi Treeter, and Candi Graham. Detective Loomis has a particularly funny line he says to end one scene and transition into another. He is always eating in every scene and when Lewis is ready to move on to another scene, there is always a line that leads Loomis to say, "Hey, let’s go check that out–we can stop and get (insert name of food here) on the way." It doesn’t translate as funny on paper, but it was hilarious on film. And of course, this lays the groundwork for gags like visiting Fuad who offers the guys ladyfinger sandwiches–slices of bread with the fingers of one of the girls as the filling. These fingers are painfully obvious as they stick out of the bread and Loomis even pulls one out and lays it on the counter as he questions Fuad. It’s completely silly, but oh, so fun!
I watched the unrated version which is seven minutes longer than the R-rated version, and the film certainly deserves its unrated status. In actual fact, the gore effects by Joe Castro are generally very good. There are plenty of livers, intestines, and various other actual animal organs that are removed and fondled, and that isn’t hard to do. But we also have throat slashings and close-ups of flesh being sliced so organs can be removed and these effects are surprisingly realistic. It is clear that Lewis has foregone his mannequins and dropped most of his budget for effects and it shows. This film is not for the weak of stomach.
Lewis also throws in some totally unnecessary and gratuitous nudity, a dance number, and the kitchen sink. It’s almost like he knew he was getting a second life and figured this was his last chance to make a film, so he went for it all. (In actual fact he directed another horror film in 2009 called The Uh-oh Show, but I haven’t seen it or heard much about it at all).
For a B-movie horror fan that doesn’t know Lewis’ previous work (that may be an oxymoron), this film may not be appreciated. But I think fans of Lewis’ original films will appreciate what this movie is: a send-up of Lewis’ first film by Lewis himself. It is obvious that Lewis had a ton of fun making this movie and that he doesn’t take himself or his career too seriously. The result is a delightfully funny gore film with no pretensions to be anything more than what it is: a low-budget wonder. For my money, H.G. did right by himself and his fans.