Review: Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat [2002]

Dir. Herschell Gordon Lewis

Cast:  J.P. Delahoussaye, Mark McLachlin, Melissa Morgan, Toni Wynne

39 years to wait for a sequel is a long time. too long some would say. in 1963 Herschell Gordon Lewis bequeathed upon the world the prototypical gore film, Blood Feast, engendering drive-in screens across a whole nation to drip scarlet and interminably altering the face of horror cinema forever. Every gross-out, effects laden murder to grace the screen in the proceeding four decades have this low budget beacon to thank for it. Now take a minute and reflect on this, dear friends, this was NOT a case of a film that just happened to be shocking at the time, even by today's digitally embellished horror standards, this unpretentious little film, squeaking in at a mere 67 minutes, has more bloodshed per frame than all the slasher films that followed in it's wake. So the question remains, why a 39 year gap between this genre-shifting archetype and it's sequel? Well let's take a look at the evidence and see what turns up...

Fuad Ramses III (Delahoussaye) has inherited the restaurant of his grandfather which hasn’t been utilized in years. He seems to be a benign and erudite young man, who's just looking for his big break in the heady world of catering. Prior to Ramses arrival in town, a duet of capricious vagrants get mysteriously slaughtered in the alley behind the vacant bakery, urging the local police to pay Ramses a visit to see if he has any information to bestow. Fuad informs them that he has no knowledge of the murders or the history surrounding his disaffected grandfather's shenanigans, but Detective Myers (McLachlin) isn’t so sure.

Fuad is hired by the town's incumbent 'socialite' Mrs. Lampley (Morgan) to devise a celebratory feast for her daughter, Tiffany's (Wynne) upcoming betrothment. Whilst restocking his recently acquired storeroom he unearths a stone statue with blazing crimson eyes. In a flash, Fuad is under the statue’s hoodoo, and the Goddess Ishtar commands him to fashion a very specific banquet utilizing only the finest, freshest, most nubile ingredients. With the aide of his grandfather’s ancient cookbook, Ramses begins to diligently collate all the prerequisite foodstuffs, carefully selected and extricated from Tiffany’s bridesmaids for their integration in this monumental repast. As the victims amass, and the dead bodies begin to outweigh the living, it’s up to the doltish team of Detectives Myers and Loomis to endeavor to save the day.

 OK let's get the embarrassment out of the way straight off... I absolutely squandered half of this movie in a state of incredulity and categorical exasperation. How could H. G. Lewis, given contemporary cinematic equipment, cutting edge effects guys and a whole cabal of out-of-work quality acting talent, produce something as appalling as this? The colour correction is reprehensible, the picture quality reminiscent of a really aberrant analog VHS transfer, calamitous, stilted, cardboard acting so bad that it makes Hayden Christensen  in Revenge of the Sith. look like an Oscar winner... then it clicked... all of the above were engendered to be prosaically that, this is not just a sequel this is the purest form of deification to a lifeless genre by one of it's architects... so... rewind... and let's try that again...

Blood Feast 2 is the nostalgic drive-in movie that aficionados of the genre have been waiting for, Rob Zombie gave us a flavor of it with House of 1,000 Corpses, but that film was just too polished to hit the mark satisfyingly. Blood Feast 2 is as bloody, gory and sickening as the original, and this film should prove enticing to the fans, precisely because, it has been produced in such a way that it echos the axioms of the the original and ergo acts as a veracious sequel. The appalling acting, unlike the forerunner, is played here for effect and the characters are depicted much like their precedents, the dialogue feels unsophisticated, especially that of Detective Myers, an obvious wink to the mesmerically atrocious cop in the original film. The whole fabric of the film is high-camp, Sixties style, if you didn’t know better it feels as though it was shot a year or two subsequent to the success of the original, this is a consummate example of a movie being constructed for the true fans only.

The film is very much a horror movie but with strong comedic elements, never once taking it's cleaved tongue out of the deranged caterer's cheek. Herschell also imparts to the viewer a bevy of gentlewomen, and this reviewer pinpointed an estimable eight sets of jiggling nubile mammary glands in the film. All eight of which are entangled in everything from insinuated sapphic encounters to the horror movie staple, the unnecessary 'we are not wearing much clothing' party that seems to be the esoteric domain of horror vixens everywhere. If you relished Blood Feast, this is a categorical must watch for you. It’s frivolous, it’s gory, and it’s a meticulous facsimile of an honest drive-in movie; devoid of budget, deficient in coherent narrative and it's only obvious intention to titillate and disgust. So it took Uncle Lewis 39 years to tender up another Blood Feast, but it was well worth the wait. Why so long? Well I guess that's for the Godfather of Gore to know, and us mere mortals to just contemplate.

Verdict: If you love the original and it's ilk then don't hesitate, everyone else... well I'm not telling you either way :)

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