Blood Feast [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Synapse Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (3rd March 2024).
The Film

Having suffered business and health difficulties in the states, American-born Fuad Ramses (Vamp's Robert Rusler) moves his wife Louise (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's Caroline Williams) and college coed daughter Penny (The Hills Run Red's Sophie Monk) to France where Louise was born, Penny can get a good education, and Fuad can cash in on the novelty of an American diner in Paris. Unfortunately, the diner gets little traffic in the affordable out-of-the-way suburb apart from Penny's Eurotrash friends and a starving homeless drifter (Gioele Viola) Louise insists on feeding; so Fuad has had to take a second job as night watchman at the Musée de l'Homme after his day-long shift with Louise overwhelmed and Penny trying to help out more despite Fuad insisting she focus on her grades.

A sleep- and medication-deprived Fuad starts experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations in the museum at night, culminating in the apparition of the goddess Ishtar (Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort's Sadie Katz) who seduces him with the promise of immortality if he can resurrect her in the flesh. Doing some research in between his two jobs, Fuad watches a video of an American scholar "Professor Lou Herschell" (original Blood Feast director Herschell Gordon Lewis) who tells the myth of a young man who was granted eternal life by Ishtar after he killed and cooked seven men and women and prepared a feast for the unknowing villagers. After a break-in at the museum in which Fuad is attacked and some artifacts are stolen, Louise and Penny worry about him and his sudden shift in personality as he teases them with hints about a party he is organizing that will turn business around. When her friends are brutally murdered and missing parts, Penny is too distracted flirting with young investigating officer Fatih (Iron Wolf's Roland Freitag, who also photographed the film) while Louise suspects that Fuad may be seeing a woman on the side… little do they know that Fuad is cooking up a storm in the downstairs meat locker and they are the guests of honor.

Lewis' Blood Feast has already been the recipient of two unofficial sequels in the only thematically-related Blood Diner and Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh – the latter losing much of its raison d'être to the MPAA scissors – and an actual sequel in Lewis' own Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat. Whatever one's opinions of the merits of any of those three films, they all seem like loving tributes and "birds of a feather" to the original compared to this much-touted 2016 remake from horror film festival short and feature regular Marcel Walz (La Petite Mort). Walz eschews not only the candy-colored color scheme and bright Kaopectate-laced blood and animal guts for a murky, desaturated look that extends to nearly black blood, but exchanges the endearing absurdity of the Gordon film for a different kind of absurdity bordering on incompetence. The plotting is so lackadaisical that Penny's friends are nonentities despite getting a grating amount of screentime while the romantic subplot is flat from the start. Walz seems to think suspense is not so much a matter of style as duration so we get drawn-out scenes of characters we do not care about emoting which seems more like filler than characterization; as such, the middle of the film drags interminably and what should be a stalk-and-slash setpiece in Penny and her friends deciding to party in a derelict club is about ten minutes of chatter and too much murk in the cinematography and too shapeless a score by Klaus Pfreundner to tell just when Rusler's masked killer actually starts lurking.

Tonally, the film cannot seem to decide if its a slasher, a cannibal film – Fuad samples the goods during his butchery – or a torture porn with not only three bound victims mutilated onscreen but two more during the elongated title sequence who might be imaginary or victims repurposed from the cutting room floor. The ending momentarily seems as though it is going for a The Wizard of Gore-esque final twist of perception but it eventually devolves into confusion and peters out in darkness. The practical effects work of late Canadian low-budget gore horror favorite Ryan Nicholason (Gutterballs) is proficient but indistinctly-photographed and never as audacious in conception as the cruder DIY aesthetic of the original film. Nicholson might actually have been a better choice for the project given his other directorial efforts of the time. Having worked with Walz before, Rusler and Williams may have had faith in him but the outcome of the film is that both of them deserve better horror vehicles. The much-touted Blood Feast remake pretty much lived and died on the festival circuit and is unlikely to come near to the reputation of the original or even the aforementioned official and unofficial sequels.


Given scant theatrical release two years after its unrated film festival circuit debut in an R-rated version that actually did not lose much given how much more permissive the ratings board has been post-Hostel when even network television can get away with a deluge of blood and guts if played for a laugh, Blood Feast regrettably hit U.S. Blu-ray through short-lived distributor Hannover House in that R-rated version (the difference amounting to about two minutes along with some substituted cutaways). The unrated version could be imported from in a mediabook edition with both cuts and a soundtrack, but Synapse's 2160p24 HEVC 2.40:1 widescreen 4K UltraHD release – and separate Blu-ray edition – is enough to satisfy the curious without the additional bells and whistles. The dark and generally-desaturated image sports some deep blacks and a sense of depth in some moving camera shots or those in which Fuad lunges out of the darkness but the details of his ceremonial mask and wardrobe as well as his shrine to Ishtar are not given much change to "shine" thanks to the harsh lighting, and the reds of wardrobe and décor pop more than the blood. Textures in clothing, hair, skin, and prosthetic appliances fare best in the brighter exteriors and a few better-lit interiors, but it is really not a far stretch from the murk of the club scene and the meat locker scenes to the "found footage"-esque finale of a spastic flashlight beam picking out indistinct gory details of an underwhelming literal "blood feast."


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack fares better than the image with clear dialogue – all English but in various thicknesses of accent – occasionally interesting foley work, and some spread to the scoring which sometimes does more to eke out atmosphere than anything in the frame. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included.


Far from a Synapse special edition, extras consist of mostly archival EPK material starting with the Indiegogo promotional teaser (1:08), the film's theatrical trailer (1:29), a making-of featurette (28:52) which is more of a loose assembly of set video punctuated by some actor sound-bytes – Williams gives her impressions of the Lewis film and the greater permissiveness of horror films since – and a look at the sets and make-up before grading, as well as the Chilli Con Curtis "Tonite" music video (3:38), the 2018 red carpet premiere (28:51) which is another loose assembly of video coverage, and the Scare Cam (5:44) which suggests Walz spent more time jump scaring his cast between shots than actually directing them.


The disc comes with a slipcover.


The much-touted Blood Feast remake pretty much lived and died on the festival circuit and is unlikely to come near to the reputation of the original or even the aforementioned official and unofficial sequels.


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