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I simply must have that recipe
A UK region 2 DVD review of BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL U CAN EAT by Gort
 
Detective Loomis: I think there's a more sinister picture here.
Now what do we have? Three dead girls, missing kidneys,
missing eyes, missing liver. Now, what does that add up to?
Detective Myers: Eight?

 

If you're not a horror devotee then it's quite possible you've never heard of Herschell Gordon Lewis. If you are and the name means nothing to you then you really need to re-take your entrance exam. If the whole concept of gratuitous movie violence appalls you then he's someone you'll definitely want to steer clear of. Even if you're OK with it you might find yourself out of your depth. When other films were shying away from bloodshed, Lewis was carving bodies open, tearing out organs and throwing blood around like liquid confetti at a loved one's wedding.

Lewis's well-earned reputation as the Godfather of Gore began in 1963, when he and his business partner David F. Friedman, looking for a market to exploit that the major studios had so far shied away from, made a film titled Blood Feast. Shot for less than $25,000 and boasting production values that it would be generous to describe as amateurish, its excessive and explicit violence and blood-letting made it an instant grindhouse smash. Further films in a similar vein followed, including Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Color Me Blood Red (1965), The Gruesome Twosome (1967) and The Gore Gore Girls (1972). By then the studios were moving into this territory with bigger budgets and higher production values and Lewis thus retired from filmmaking and began a successful career in advertising. But he always dreamed making a sequel to the film that first made his name, and in 2002 was reunited with Friedman and Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat was born.

Go into Blood Feast 2 expecting a straight-up horror movie and you'll soon be wondering what the hell Lewis thought he was up to. If you're in on the gag, however, you should have a ball. After a mysterious orange glow has prompted two heavy-rock hobos to rip each other apart, we're introduced to hayseed caterer Fuad Ramses III, who rolls into town to reopen the restaurant that once belonged to his grandfather. What Fuad doesn't know is that granddaddy was a notorious murderer who made meals from the body parts of his victims as part of a ritual to revive an ancient Egyptian goddess. You'd think someone in the family would have mentioned this before letting him loose on the very bakery in which it happened. Suspicious that Fuad might be preparing to follow in his grandpappy's footsteps, persistently pissed-off hotshot detective Mike Myers pops in to warn him that if local women start disappearing then he's going to be top of their list of suspects. Such concerns cut little ice with Myers' laid-back partner Sam Loomis, a walking food processor who sees Fuad as a potential source of free cakes. Just minutes after he's received this warning, Fuad is possessed by a statue of the goddess Ishtar ("Like the movie?" – "Oh I hope not") that he discovers glowing in the bakery's back room. And when snooty out-of-towner Mrs. Lampley asks him to provide the catering for her daughter's wedding, Fuad knows exactly what ingredients he needs and wastes no time in procuring them.

If you've seen Blood Feast then the above will have a very familiar ring. Blood Feast 2 may well be a sequel, but in the spirit of Evil Dead 2 it's also a reworking of the original film. It doesn't really matter. This is a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie and the plot is there primarily to move us from one graphically gory set-piece to the next. This is cinematic Grand Guignol in which the violence is lingering, bloody and gleefully gratuitous – an abdomen is sliced open and the liver removed, a hand is forced into a meat grinder as its owner screams for mercy, brain matter is dug out of an ear with a corkscrew, eyes and a tongue are torn from the same head, and a face and scalp are pulled off and the skull beneath cut open with an electric carving knife. And yep, it's all done to young women, buxom college girls who speak and behave as if they're auditioning for a cheesy lesbian porn film.

But Blood Feast 2's tongue is firmly and consistently in its cheek, creating what in effect is both a straight-up Herschell Gordon Lewis film and a pastiche of one. W. Boyd Ford's script is a witty mix of daft gags, straight-faced parody and knowing winks at the audience. The two investigating cops are named after characters in Halloween (one of whom was named after a cop in Psycho anyway), and both would need to take a college course to be half as smart as their contemptuous female secretary. The overly cocksure Myers throws up at every crime scene, while Loomis is never without food and at one point breaks off from the action to provide a TV-style weather report, complete with a back-to-the-show music cue. The same male corpse lies unacknowledged at every murder scene, and nobody bats an eyelid at girls with names like Bambi Deere, Misti Morning, Laci Hundees, Trixi Treeter and Candi Graham (pronounced "Gram" of course). Such inspired sillliness is followed through in the performances, with J.P. Delahoussaye given free reign to explore the outer reaches of wide-eyed excess as Fuad Ramses III in what just has to be a piss-take of the sort of performances that early Lewis films were famous for, while as the irritable Myers (full name Michael Munchausen Myers if you please), Mark McLachlan appears to be sending up Tom Cruise in righteous anger mode.

For all its fun, Blood Feast 2 is unlikely to win any converts to perverse pleasures of splatter horror, but I seriously doubt this was ever Lewis or screenwriter Ford's intention or that they cared a hoot either way. This particularly delicacy was prepared solely for the initiated, for those who've seen the movies it both apes and parodies and who are thus able to properly appreciate the horror and humour on which it trades. And if that includes you then Blood Feast 2 delivers on all counts, in its horrible make-up effects, the double-take wit of its dialogue and performances, the what-the-hell energy of the whole enterprise, and it's amusing indifference to the changing face of modern American horror. The cherry on the cake is a cameo by cult filmmaker John Waters as a paedophile priest, who smilingly encourages young children to stick close to the clergy and offers to fulfil a teenager's dream by making him an altar boy. "Bring a bathing suit," he advises. "I've got beer."

sound and vision

Blood Feast 2 has already made it to DVD in both America and Australia and the key complaint about the transfer was common to both releases, that the picture was letterboxed rather than anamorphic. Unfortunately the same is true of Arrow's UK DVD, which has likely been sourced from the same video original, hence the NTSC to PAL conversion. In other respects the picture is pretty good, a clean transfer with decent enough contrast (detail is lacking in shadow areas, however) and the sort of colour that sings a small hymn to Lewis's formula for fake blood. But enlarged to fill a 42-inch plasma screen it's never going to look as sharp as it should for a film shot on 35mm in 2002, and tends to bring those compression artefacts into plain view.

A decent Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack provides some compensation, though the music tends to fare better than the dialogue, which although clear enough appears to have sidestepped any ADR work to retain that low budget recorded-on-location feel.

extra features

Gore Gourmet (20:43)
A surface-skimming but still enjoyable introduction to the Godfather of Gore, built around interviews with Fangoria editor Anthony Timpone (a regular on these sort of featurettes), Wizard of Gore director Jeremy Kasten, Toxic Avenger director Lloyd Kaufman and Lewis himself, who talks about how the first Blood Feast came about, why he stopped making movies, and his return for Blood Feast 2. The others enthuse about Lewis's work, while Kaufman mixes films up and even stops at one point to take a phone call.

Behind the Gore (4:38)
A behind-the-scenes look at shooting some of the key gore effects. Definitely of interest, but more detail and some interviews would have been nice.

Behind the Scenes (12:26)
A ramshackle collection of on-set DV footage, too much of which consists of the camera operator asking anyone he can find what they do on the film and getting the reply "Nothing." Almost worth if for the brief glimpse of Waters rehearsing with the kids and having to explain to them what hell is, but even that is almost scuppered by poor sound recording.

On the set (4:05)
Brief, not that informative but still welcome DV footage of Lewis directing three scenes.

Deleted scenes (10:07)
More like extended scenes, as much of the footage in here is actually in the film. Not hard to see why a 'wrong movie' gag was cut from the end of the first crime scene sequence.

summary

Non-gore fans need not and indeed should not apply, as to get to the comedy you're going to have to stomach the sort of visuals that get right-minded people writing to their MPs. For the rest of us Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat is a disgusting joy, one that gets funnier as it progresses and delivers in spades on the director's status as the Godfather of Gore. The non-anamorphic transfer is a disappointment, but with no other option, genre fans will likely bite the bullet and buy it anyway.

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat

USA 2002
99 mins
director
Herschell Gordon Lewis
starring
John McConnell
Mark McLachlan
Melissa Morgan
Toni Wynne
J.P. Delahoussaye
Chris Mauer

DVD details
region 2
video
1.82:1 letterboxed
sound
Dolby 2.0 stereo
languages
English
subtitles
none
extras
Gore Gourmet featurette
Gore effects featurette
Behind the scenes featurette
On set featurette
Deleted scenes
distributor
Arrow films
release date
11 January 2010
review posted
10 January 2010

See all of Gort's reviews