Red Blood, Black Heart: “Blood Feast” (1963)


    Never to be considered in the same breath with any discussion of Art, the appalling 1963 full color bloodbath “Blood Feast” is undeniably a movie (it feels inappropriate except if wearing a hazmat suite to use the appellation film) that can be regarded as a genuine cultural turning point; that is if regarded at a safe distance while using a pair of protective tongs.

    If 1960 saw the emergence of an escalation of shocking violence in the popular cinema form from Alfred Hitchcock with “Psycho” and Michael Powell with “Peeping Tom”, the cultural shock waves were accentuated by the middlebrow critical culture which dissected the sudden leap of psycho-sexual violence- despite the fact that neither film included a single frame of explicit physical contact -in the works of two of the world’s most acclaimed international talents, while ignoring the readily available films which had already broken the ground on more graphic depictions of cinema violence, but lacked the prerequisite artistic peerage to be acknowledged as worthy of influencing an entire industry, or (and this is a point which has haunted the serious echelon of the Critical Establishment) was a product of those genres which are generally excluded from serious academic evaluation; in this case: exploitation and horror. Thus, within the orbit of critical discussions on the simultaneous influences by Hitchcock and Powell on the future of cinema violence and the rise of filmic sexual sadism, there is no mention of Sidney Hayers nor Arthur Crabtree; directors of the films “Circus of Horrors” ( also 1960) and “Horrors in the Black Museum” (1959), both along with Powell’s “Peeping Tom” a part of the unofficial Sadian Trilogy distributed by British Anglo-Amalgamated, for in the writing of cinema history is appears inconceivable to admit that the evolution of a perceived art form might be influenced equally or (and this is where the trouble begins) even more by individuals outside of the mainstream of critical thought in terms of artistic worth. However, seldom does the evolution of movie content exclusively coincide with perceived advancements in film artistry. Films by a Hitchcock or a Powell will automatically be approached with an anticipatory reverence never to be enjoyed by a journeyman or unknown director, yet it is  in these more low-level efforts where, not uncommonly, cultural evolution (not to qualify whether that evolution is positive or not, simply that it occurs) unceremoniously makes another footprint, though in obscurity until replicated by prominent and thus “substantial” artists, where the same advancements are scrutinized as if they emerged without external influence, but spontaneously from a foreboding plateau of genius.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
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