Remakes are a hard enough sell in their own right, but a reboot only a select few would actually be interested in? One that does nothing to update the story for modern audiences, or to enamour it to those who aren’t already familiar with the material? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the bizarre prospect of German director Marcel Walz’s Blood Feast, a 2016 update of the Herschell Gordon Lewis cult favourite that has absolutely no reason to exist whatsoever.
Splatter fans can relax. If gore is what you came for, consider Blood Feast 2016 an all-you-can-eat buffet. In fact, the special effects (by maestro Ryan Nicholson, who’s worked on projects as wide-ranging as Elf and The Chronicles Of Riddick over the years) are the movie’s only real selling point. But even gross-out gore becomes tedious when it features too prominently, as it does here, or when it’s nothing particularly new.
The opening prologue contains a warning about the extremity of what we are about to see, which has the exact opposite effect considering everything that follows is so corny and stodgy it might as well be a casserole. The story moves from Miami to Paris for no apparent reason (aside from the obvious budgetary constraints), but the flick was actually shot in Heidelberg, Germany.
To say this is obvious would do a disservice to the intelligence of the viewer. No matter how many randomly shoehorned-in shots of the Eiffel Tower we get, the location never feels real. Nor is it justified, considering most of the action takes place in an American-style diner (so the story could’ve taken place in Germany, and nothing would be lost). Said eaterie is run by the Ramses family, headed by Dad Fuad (genre vet Robert Rusler).
There, along with wife Louise (Caroline Williams, of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, who deserves better) and daughter Penny (Sophie Monk, playing college age, but looking her actual age), he ekes out a respectable living while working a second job as the night manager in a museum. Fuad also takes meds for undisclosed mental troubles and appears to be a bit…loopy at times, experiencing visions and the like.
Fuad’s feast, for those unfamiliar with the source material (although, after watching this, you won’t need to bother with it since much of the content is lifted verbatim) concerns the goddess Ishtar. Somehow, in spite of all of her lines being read in voice-over, actress Sadie Katz (of Wrong Turn 6!) manages to out-ham everyone else. We therefore find the ridiculously contrived plan even harder to swallow than Fuad does the meat of other humans.
About that cannibalism–introduced like ‘cannibalism LOL’ as though it’s just as shocking as it was back in 1963, instead of something that’s been overdone to death at this stage–which starts early on before the big, bloodbath finale. If Fuad is so into appeasing his goddess and feasting on others, why does he keep spitting the meat out? Why does he delicately carve slabs off some poor girl’s butt only to barely even chew them? What a waste.
An entire subplot about Penny’s annoying, dull friends – all of whom speak to each other in English – is just an exercise in time wasting as Walz barrels forward towards his uninspired, and shockingly badly-lit finale. Although it’s nice to see alternative types cast in a movie, it’d be better if any of this lot could actually act beyond having tattoos and piercings. Penny also looks like their chaperone whenever they hang out, given the obvious age difference.
Considering the wild, outlandish nature of the source material, Blood Feast is super-corny and earnest. Rusler delivers lines like “You shall see” as though he’s learning English as a second language, while the script, which Walz co-wrote with first-timer Philip Lilienschwarz, is clunky, loaded with needless exposition (we’re flat out told what’s going to happen early on) and completely lacking in nuance.
The performances from Williams and Monk–plus one, kind admirer with whom she shares a dubious snog that is emblematic of this movie’s approach to, well, everything–are passable and impressively committed. But Rusler either wants to be Henry Rollins really badly or genuinely believes his Fuad to be a formidable, terrifying villain. He takes to this role like he’s playing Hannibal f**king Lecter.
The part calls for Fuad to wear a gigantic, Egyptian-style head that he puts on and takes off at random moments, negating the need for its inclusion in the first place beyond “this looks cool”. During the titular feast, Rusler gurns and laughs and over-acts as though it’s actually him, the actor, who is off his meds rather than the character he’s playing. He might be celebrated for committing entirely, but that doesn’t make the performance any better.
An argument often floated about the original film, including by those behind it upon initial release (amid a critical mauling), was that it was never meant to be taken seriously. One suspects that will be Walz’s go-to defence once his Blood Feast gets out. There are even those, if initial reports are to be believed, who consider this a cult favourite in the making. Perhaps it is, but it’s difficult to imagine anyone besides hardcore nostalgists getting a kick out of this.
It’s not scary, there’s zero tension, the script is laughably bad (a nightmare and a bad dream are the same thing, guys) and the endless callbacks to the original will please purists, but alienate newcomers. As much as a remake has to honour its predecessor (and not f**k with the original, of course), it’s also important that it establishes its own identity. Blood Feast 2016 has no reason to exist beyond the source material. And even then, it’s a stretch.
WICKED RATING: 2/10
Director(s): Marcel Walz
Writer(s): Marcel Walz, Philip Lilienschwarz
Stars: Robert Rusler, Caroline Williams, Sophie Monk, Sadie Katz
Studio/ Production Co: Gundo Entertainment
Length: 90 minutes