Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002, HG Lewis)

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Well, whoulda thunk it. In 2002, 38(!) years after the release of the original gore movie Blood Feast, we finally got that long awaited (by someone, surely) sequel.

If anything, the popularity of the film was at an all time high, thanks to excellent DVD releases from Something Weird video brought the films back into the public eye. Gore scenes had long since entered the mainstream, and blockbuster movies like Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop had easily surpassed Blood Feast in terms of onscreen violence.

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And so it was into this uncertain world that HG Lewis stepped with Blood Feast 2, his first directorial effort in 30 years since he gave up filmmaking to concentrate on a successful career in marketing and copywriting. And you know what? It’s like he was never away. The laziness, incompetence and complete lack of cinematic craft that characterised his films remains intact, for better or worse, though mostly worse.

What’s missing is the charm.

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Shall we start with the good? Don’t worry, it won’t take long. The effects work is obviously far superior than the original, although the gore is shot in such an extreme close up that you may as well be looking at it through a microscope, robbing the scenes of any power or visual impact.

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The music is also slightly better, with only the briefest of appearances from those damnable timpani drums. Instead, we have some Cramps-lite rockabilly and southern rock, which at least gives the film an energy sorely lacking from Blood Feast.

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One thing that doesn’t change is the story. Here we have Fuad Ramses’ grandson, Fuad Ramses III, which means that somewhere along the line Fuad fathered a child, which is a ghastly thought. Fuad has inherited his grandfather’s catering shop, and is immediately possessed by Ishtar, causing him to closely follow the plot of the original movie, because if it’s broke, why bother fixing it?

I mean, it’s not like they’ve had nearly 4 decades to come up with a new angle or interesting twist…

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The difference is all in the tone, with Lewis opting for a rather smug, campy feel to the mayhem. The performances range from embarrassing to broad and the humour rarely comes off, being mostly of the fat-man-likes-eating and cop-can’t-stop-vomiting variety, although sometimes the verbal gags raise a smile. The undoubted highlight of the entire movie is a cameo from legendary director John Waters as a priest who, when asked by a potential altar boy what to bring to their meeting, suggests, ‘Bring a bathing suit! I got some beer.’

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Lewis also embraces his softcore past in a big way, with every female member of the cast stripping off at regular intervals. There’s a scene where a woman says to her roomful of friends, ‘You just have to see the new bra I got yesterday,’ pulling down her dress to show them all. Later they make a toast – ‘To lingerie!’ and we are treated to a slow motion lingerie party, which, if nothing else, proves that Lewis has at least learnt what slow motion is and how to film it.

This is what’s known as progress.

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It’s so good natured and amiable that it’s hard to hate Blood Feast 2, but whereas part one ran for 67 minutes, this drags on for a truly excruciating 99 minutes. With 20 minutes cut out, I could probably recommend this as a mildly fun party movie. But as it stands, there’s just not enough here to justify the running time.

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Love Massacre (1981, Patrick Tam)


Love Massacre is a bizarre psycho-drama that was part of the glorious Hong Kong New Wave that lasted from about 1978 to 1982. This was the era when several Hong Kong directors who had studied film overseas returned to their homeland and got to work making genre films imbued with a more European arthouse sensibility.


Genres were mixed and turned upon their head in a way that has rarely been seen in Hong Kong filmmaking before or since, and the weirdly impenetrable localised humour was mostly absent. This is a blessing for fans of these movies from the West who will just never understand why a cross-eyed character with a huge mole is present in every kung fu film made in the 1970s.


I’m going to be looking at a number of these New Wave films, as they seem somewhat underrepresented online and in print, despite a number of them being absolute grade-A fucking masterpieces. My favourite kind of movie has always mashed up genre elements with an off-kilter auteurist vibe, whether it be Jess Franco or Jean Rollin or David Lynch. The directors of the Hong Kong New Wave (from here on referred to as the HKNW) excelled at this, with even their kung-fu and triad gangster movies being pitch black and often insanely violent.


Which brings us to Love Massacre, Patrick Tam’s weirdo Godard/Hitchcock hybrid. Tam’s first film was a stunning existentialist swordplay masterpiece called The Sword, and he followed it up with Love Massacre, a stalker movie set in San Francisco. When a young woman kills herself due to unrequited love, her estranged brother slowly unravels and begins to stalk his sister’s friends, culminating in a deadly game of cat and mouse in an apartment block.


At least I think that’s what it’s about, it was hard to get specifics due to the scratchy old VHS print I watched. You see, the subtitles are white, which isn’t in itself a problem. No, the problem is that everyone wears white, often obscuring the subtitles.

Get a load of this –


Oh, you can read that? Okay then, how about this


Told you so.

It’s not a deal breaker, as the plot is simple enough to follow and anyway who cares about the damn plot when a film looks as good as this, faded colours and VHS wear and tear notwithstanding?


The whole film is shot like an unholy combination of Godard and Hitchcock, and the art director is William Chang, who would go on to be production designer on every one of Wong Kar-Wai’s movies. He gives Love Massacre an old fashioned look, the clothing and decor more befitting the 1960s than the 1980s. Man, I’d love to see a remastered print of this film!


It’s so slow and measured that in many ways it doesn’t feel like a Hong Kong movie at all, though there are the occasional giveaways, in particular, the ear-splitting synthesised pan-pipes that play over the opening credits and the presence of the extraordinary Brigitte Lin, The Bride With White Hair herself.


It’s a hard film to love but an easy one to appreciate and enjoy. Slasher fans will certainly come away disappointed – the first half is a talky drama, full of meaningful glances and pregnant pauses, while the second half, the ‘horror’ part, tends to underplay the excitement and thrills that should ensue.


But that’s common with the HKNW. These were filmmakers who refused to play it safe, and offered films that challenged the viewer. Love Massacre is never fun, but what did you expect from a film with that title? However, if you like films that take themselves and their subject matter seriously, while still throwing in gratuitous stabbings and beautiful people wandering through art galleries, then you’ve just hit the jackpot.

And believe me, this is nowhere near the best the New Wave has to offer.


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Worst censorship ever?

You know how sometimes an old memory just pops into your head apropos of nothing?

It recently happened to me regarding perhaps the lamest, most pathetic piece of horror movie censorship in UK history.

First of all, take a look at this original poster for Dario Argento’s masterful thriller Tenebre – A powerfully simple image that invokes the sex, style and savagery of the giallo film in one stark image.


Pretty great huh?

Well, here in the UK we have the VPRC (Video Packaging Review Committee) to protect our sensitive eyes from extreme imagery, and they clearly took exception to eerie beauty of Tenebre’s poster.

Thus, we ended up with this


Yeah, they added a fucking red ribbon round her neck to hide the trickle of blood. A ribbon! What is she, a cat? A Christmas present? A haberdasher’s dummy?

Mind you, just imagine how quickly civilisation would have crumbled into anarchy had the VPRC not acted, so I suppose we should all be thankful.

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Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell + my Home Video Horrors


Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder From Hell is a 62 minute, shot on 8mm Japanese remake of The Evil Dead trilogy that has inexplicably found its way onto DVD here in the UK.

It’s bonkers, a lovingly crafted homage to 80s splatter comedies that manages a couple of decent scares before letting the OTT splatter scenes take precedence.


Despite being three people in a couple of identical looking rooms, there’s ambition to spare, particularly the frequent stop motion effects work and the excellent ambient score that sounds like something out of a Silent Hill video game, though the less said about the incongruous techno tracks the better…



I wonder if remaking The Evil Dead is some kind of rites of passage for young horror fans. I only ask because, back in 1994, I did the same thing in SCOTTISH NINJA 9: THE UNHOLY DEAD.


That’s me on the left, with the Manchester United goalie top and unfortunate bowl haircut.

The Scottish Ninja series started in 1990 when my friends and I were 8 years old, but after making eight of them in four years, we were starting to run out of ideas. This is why, one Summer afternoon, I got together with my friends Duncan and David and remade The Evil Dead. Of course, I was the only one out of the three that had even seen the film, so I gave them the basics and we improvised the rest of the movie.

The wonders of childhood imagination!

We shot in my granny’s house, which was rife with such chilling props as…THE BOOGIE WOOGIE POLKA SONGBOOK!


Costumes were limited, so when we killed off Duncan in the first few minutes…


…we created a new character, who looked very similar to Duncan but was wearing a hat, sunglasses and a chain around his neck.


See? Different person altogether. When that character died after a gruesome scalping…


…we brought him back again as a new character, this time with a moustache and a different hat.


Has there ever been a better example of the magic of cinema? If nothing else, those trousers are a great example of the magic of 90s fashion.


I tried to stick to the plot of The Evil Dead as much as possible, and there’s a lengthy scene where I go on about Sumerian burial rites and Kandarian daggers and funerary incantations.

Guys, I was 12 years old. Horror bit me young, and it bit me hard. It’s hard to see, but for much of the film I’m wearing a Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein t-shirt.


To this day, I’ve still never seen the film.


This shot was my attempt to pay homage to Steve Christie’s death in Friday the 13th. I repeat: I was 12.

Luckily though, we knew how to have a good time, and the film ends in…


…an improvised song and dance number.

Isn’t this how all films are supposed to end?

I finally wrapped up the Scottish Ninja series in 2013, with a Swedish language black and white movie shot almost entirely in slow motion and starring my parents.

Sometimes, life can be just great.

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2017 Horror Movies: Part 1

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Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)

2016 was such a total dud for horror movies, but this year has at least gotten off to a strong start. Get Out is The Little Horror Film That Could, breaking into the mainstream whilst still satisfying the horror hardcore, a tight and unexpected thriller that deftly mixes horror and comedy in a way I’ve not seen for a while.

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It’s not a film I think I’ll have the urge to revisit anytime soon, but I left the cinema satisfied, which is more than I can say for pretty much any horror film I saw in the cinema last year.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017, Jordan Vogt-Roberts)

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Another pleasant surprise was Kong: Skull Island. The original King Kong was one of the first horror films I ever saw aged about 4 or 5, and I’ve still never seen the second half of Peter Jackson’s laborious remake (my girlfriend at the time got too upset when Kong was captured and left the cinema in tears, with me dutifully following after her), but none of that matters because this is a reboot with both hairy feet firmly planted in the monster movie genre.

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A major complaint is that there are briefly some giant spiders, but then they’re gone for the rest of the film. What gives? Don’t tease me with giant spiders and then take them away from me – that’s just cruel.

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Kong won’t change your life or anything, but it was a good, fun monster romp that runs over an hour shorter than the bloated 2005 version, and that is something to be celebrated.

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Raw (2017, Julia Ducournau)

Raw, not to be confused with Eddie Murphy’s stand up film Raw (although it would make an interesting and ultimately pointless double bill) is the new French horror that people are talking about because it made wimp some vomit in a screening or something.

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It’s a surprisingly tender and blackly comic coming-of-age story that just happens to be about cannibalism. The style hews closer to arthouse horror like Goodnight, Mommy and The VVitch, though unlike those flaccid bores the horror hits hard, though there’s nothing much here to turn the stomach of the average horror-goer.

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Garance Marillier is a revelation in the lead role in a film that is equally funny, frightening and erotic. Inexplicably, this French language art movie played in my local multiplex in the biggest screen, the one usually reserved for Marvel movies. Naive hopefulness or administrative error? You be the judge.


The Void (2017, Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski)

From the crackpots that brought you the insane Manborg and the even more insane Father’s Day comes The Void, a glorious practical effects laden throwback to the heyday of John Carpenter. It’s The Thing meets Assault on Precinct 13 meets Prince of Darkness, and is almost as much fun as that sounds.


I have a soft spot for any film that depicts a vision of Hell (yes Event Horizon, even you) and The Void nails it, even throwing in an homage to The Beyond that both annoyed and thrilled me.


It lacks the humour of the director’s previous films, but is right up there with Raw as the best film I’ve seen so far this year. That said, there’s still plenty of good stuff to come – The Love Witch, The Belko Experiment, IT – so hopefully there’ll be at least one stone cold classic amongst the bunch.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

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Cannibal Holocaust 2: The Beginning (Bruno Mattei, 2004)


Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is one of the most divisive films in the history of horror. The lurid mixture of sensational screen violence and real life animal cruelty creates a pungent masterpiece that is both reprehensible and astonishing, disturbing and fascinating.

Almost 25 years later, we finally got the long awaited sequel, Mondo Cannibal aka Cannibal Holocaust: The Beginning.  It’s directed by Bruno Mattei, the Italian schlockmeister that gave us Rats: Night of Terror and Hell of the Living Dead. Was it worth the wait?



No it most certainly was not.


Cannibal Holocaust 2 is shot on a consumer level camcorder and plays out like your most nightmarish home video fantasies come to dreadful, gasping life. It shamelessly cribs the plot and entire scenes from the original, but only after carefully excising any semblance of power, wit or intelligence from them.

What it does offer, however, are some of the greatest facial expressions ever captured on tape. But first, a warning from our lead character, Grace –

‘What you are about to see, will, I imagine, send you out of your minds.’

You have been warned.




Guys, these three frame grabs are from the first two minutes. The reason for their repulsion is that a native woman is having her intestines pulled out of her through her breasts(?). Don’t even ask how that works – anatomy is not Mattei’s strong point.

Sadly, neither is filmmaking. Despite nominally operating in the same Found Footage milieu as Deodato’s film, Mattei can’t even commit to that film’s two camera set up, constantly cutting to shots that couldn’t possible be being filmed by the camera operators.

But that, my friends, is the least of the films problems.

We are quickly introduced to our protagonist, Grace Forsyte, who has the longest arms I’ve ever seen on a person.


We know Grace is a badass, because as she walks the streets of Hong Kong, limp porno-sax plays out over a Casio drum beat. She soon discovers that her tv show has been temporarily suspended.

‘Temporarily suspended? What the hell is that supposed to mean?’ she demands. Erm, do I really need to explain it to you, Grace?


Grace is furious with the ‘powers’ from ‘administration’, and calls them every name in the book, and even some that aren’t in the book, because she just made them up.

‘Senile filthy assholes! A bunch of snot fanciers! A decrepit bunch of shit holes!’

Snot fanciers???

Soon, she meets up with Bob Manson and ‘the old squad’, a motley collection of halfwits who always look like they’re posing for their bands first album cover.


Don’t believe me? There’s more…


You see, in a pathetic concession to topicality and the ideas of the original, Grace is told that the war in Iraq has awakened a bloodlust in the public that must be satisfied. Therefore, Grace and her merry band of idiots head out to try and find proof of the existence of cannibalism.

It’s a dangerous mission, but luckily there is still time for some topless sunbathing.


Grace continues to demonstrate her way with wicked one liners, my favourite being, ‘Hope doth spring eternal, you bastard.’ I’d like to get that on a shirt. Later, when they find their first evidence of cannibalism, she says, ‘All our stomachs are jumping like palsied butterflies.

That one I don’t need on a shirt, thanks very much.

Along the way we get some stock footage that also turned up in Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead and also, with crushing inevitability, the real life animal violence that seems to go hand in hand with this frequently loathsome genre. It seems even more bizarre and depressing coming from a film shot only a few years ago in 2004, and isn’t able to use the tired defence of ‘oh, but it happened so long ago! Things were different back then.’


Luckily, Grace soon gets us back on track by getting in a catfight with her camerawoman, causing them to roll around in the dirt while the men stand around laughing, as men do.


But goofball moments like this are becoming few and far between, and the ugly image and painful dubbing are starting to take their toll. I need some action. I need some excitement. I need…Grace grabbing a cannibal in a headlock and wrestling her to the ground! I need…Grace kneeing a cannibal in the head! Love her or hate her (I hate her), you have to admit that Grace consistently delivers. I can understand why she is ‘the host of thousands of successful programs.’

Wait…thousands? That’s a lot of programs.


After that highlight, the film plays out like Cannibal Holocaust’s devastating climax minus the devastation, wimping out on all the extreme violence and horrifying imagery. Apparently it’s okay to slice open a lizard on camera, but chopping a fake dick off is just bad taste and has to happen offscreen.


It all ends in the most extraordinary, inexplicable fashion. The old squad is dead, but the tv execs decide not to inform the public of their deaths. Instead, one of them explains that, ‘Avant garde virtual techniques will enable the audience to find them.’ Sorry, did I say explain?

It’s an appalling film that will be hated by anyone who liked the original, and equally hated by anyone who didn’t like the original.

But let’s end on a high. Here’s another topless sunbather along with the most outrageous mangling of a well known phrase in the history of language.

‘Hey, remember what they say about pigs claiming to be able to fly?

You look up long enough and you’ll get pig shit on your face too.’

Words to live by, guys. Words to live by.


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The eyes! An appreciation of The Beyond

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And you will face the sea of darkness,

and all therein that may be explored.


The Beyond (Lucio Fulci, 1981)

Look, let’s get this out of the way first – The Beyond might just be my favourite horror film ever. It’s a masterpiece of grand guignol gothic horror, combining sinister atmosphere and full blown gore freakouts into one perfect package. The plot, if you really need one, concerns Liza, who has inherited a Louisiana hotel. Naturally, the hotel is built on one of the seven gateways to hell (bet they don’t put that in the brochure) and Liza, along with her doctor friend John, find themselves centre stage of a miniature zombie apocalypse.


It’s a film where everyone involved seemed to be at the height of their powers. Sergio Salvati’s photography is some of the most evocative the genre has ever seen, capturing the sweaty terror perfectly, the earthy browns that dominate the colour palette contrasting with the red blood of Gianetto De Rossi’s extreme splatter sequences. Special mention has to be reserved for the score by Fabio Frizzi, heavy on the mellotron and squishy bass noises. If you don’t get chills when that first choral score kicks in over the opening credits as flames erupt from the book of Eibon, then you may be reading the wrong blog.


Even the casting, so often a weak point, is spot on. David Warbeck is the ideal macho manly-man and Catriona MacColl carries the film in what could otherwise have been a thankless damsel-in-distress role. Try and imagine this film with Zombie Flesh eaters alumni Tisa Farrow and Ian McCulloch in the lead roles and shudder in fear at what could have been!


Everything about the film is deliciously off-kilter. People seem to walk around in a daze, speaking only in doom laden tones of ominous portent. There’s no room for small talk here. The characters for once seem to have backstories, which are alluded to but never explained. Why does Arthur seem so concerned about Joe The Plumber? Did Joe and Martha used to be a couple? Why does everyone keep exchanging strange, nervous glances? And why does no one seem concerned at all the corpses floating about in the basement?


There are several surreal touches that push The Beyond out of the realms of the standard zombie movie and into nightmare logic territory. When Liza meets Emily, the odd blind girl with all the answers, Emily gets frightened and runs away. In a truly avant-garde moment, the sequence replays five or six times, with Liza gradually coming to the realisation that Emily did not have footsteps and may in fact be a ghost. It’s something you might expect to see in an Alain Robbe-Grillet film, not an Italian exploitation picture. Then there’s a scene about halfway through that seems to sum The Beyond up perfectly.


Joe The Plumber’s daughter is waiting in the morgue while her mother goes in to see the body. There’s a bone chilling moment where a squeaky gurney goes past her, followed by a scream from her mother. The girl goes in to investigate and finds her mother lying on the floor with acid pouring on her face. A vaguely funky piece of horror music starts to play as the girl is chased around the morgue by a gelatinous pile of goo, until she opens a door and a corpse falls on her. None of it makes a lick of sense, but it’s carried out with such devil-may-care aplomb and skill that the lack of logic becomes a plus for even the most level-headed viewer.


There’s almost too many great moments to talk about – the choreography and staging of Martha’s death, the abandoned hotel coming to life with zombie silhouettes in the window, the entire hospital sequence, it just goes on and on.


All this good stuff is easily enough to make you overlook the film’s occasional flaws, like the preposterous pipe cleaner spiders or the hospital sign that reads ’DO NOT ENTRY!’, although Al Cliver hooking a decomposed corpse up to brainwave machine may be too much for some to swallow.


But if all this talk of surrealism and experimental cinema is too much for you, then know this – The Beyond is one of the goriest, most spectacular films of the 80s. Eyes are routinely gouged or popped from sockets. A throat is torn out by dog in a scene that looks at Cujo’s canine carnage and laughs. A man’s face is torn apart by spiders, and a child gets a magnum blast right to the face.


Fulci would never top The Beyond – I doubt any director ever could – but at least he had one more masterpiece in him, the delirious The House By The Cemetery.


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