Friday, 4 July 2014

[Feature] Trailer Trash (04/07/14)

What is Trailer Trash? Every Friday, I will share with you -- our fine readers -- a seedy, sleazy, trashy trailer of my choosing. This feature will run in cohesion with our sleaze obsessed friends over at Neon Maniacs. So, enjoy a slice of depravity, you sicker than sick bastards (whom I love dearly).

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Even though I have mixed feelings towards Diablo Cody's Juno, I am going to have to borrow one particular quote from it.

"Argento's good, but Lewis is completely demented. We're talking buckets of goo. Red corn syrup everywhere. And fake brains up the yin-yang."

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am, of course, talking about Herschell Gordon Lewis. One of the true masters of schlock. Or as his fans have affectionately dubbed him, "The Godfather of Gore." This weeks edition of Trailer Trash takes a look at the Godfather's first true foray into the genre that he effectively created, 'the splatter film.'

In the early Sixties, Herschell Gordon Lewis had made a name for himself by making mostly softcore sexploitation films such as Goldilocks and the Three Bares. However, the softcore 'nudie picture' market was collapsing, leaving Lewis and his long-time Producer David F. Friedman to venture into uncharted territory. Together, they made what many critics consider to be the first ever splatter film Blood Feast.

Blood Feast concerns itself with a psychopathic food caterer who casually kills women so that he can hack them apart and include their body parts in his meals as a sacrificial means to an ancient Egyptian queen. The barely existent plot is nothing more than an excuse to weave scenes of casual sadism and extreme violence together. Not that I am complaining, mind you.

Sure, by today's standards, it is technically inept. Shot over the span of nine days with a budget of just under $25,000 the film is considerably low rent. The acting is mostly shoddy and not worth complimenting as dialog is howlingly hilarious. The screenplay written by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Allison Louise Downe, and David Friedman is below-average. Although, according to David Friedman, they supposedly weren't taking the subject matter very seriously to begin with. You have to keep in mind that this was the first gore film, and at the time they were mainly worried about making it violent rather than worrying about realistic dialog or character development. And who are we to argue with that? They are the ones who ended up getting rich off of it, not us.

But what makes Blood Feast so remarkable is that it is the prototypical gore flick for which everything else that followed would end up owing a debt of gratitude. Long before Jason wielded his iconic Machete, there was the Machete wielding Maniac from Blood Feast. Long before Peter Jackson made his name with the splat-stick antics of Bad Taste, Herschell Gordon Lewis was inventing the first true instance of splat-stick as he casually feigned ripping out the tongue of a female victim for comedic effect. Blood Feast was both the prototypical slasher and splatter film, and for that it deserves all the credit in the world.

-Daniel M



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