Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 24th, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1963 (Both Films)
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis (Both Films)
Writers: Allison Louise Downe (Blood Feast), Herschell Gordon Lewis (Scum of the Earth)
Cast: William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Connie Mason, Lyn Bolton, Scott H. Hall, Christy Foushee (Blood Feast), William Kerwin, Allison Louise Downe, Lawrence J. Aberwood, Sandra Sinclair, Mal Arnold, Craig Maudslay Jr., Christy Foushee, Doug Brennan, Christina Castel (Scum of the Earth)
BluRay released: October 9th, 2017 (UK), October 24th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running times: 67 minutes (Blood Feast), 75 minutes (Scum of the Earth)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Films)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95 (USA) / £19.99 (UK)
It is easy to look back on a film like Blood Feast and delight in its gory set pieces. The film came out during an era, when the majority of horror films were still restrained in what they were allowed to show onscreen. And though the genre has come a long way, since Blood Feast was unleashed on unsuspecting audiences. There is no denying it’s impact on the horror film genre. More specifically the splatter film sub-genre.
From a technical standpoint, Blood Feast excels the most, when it comes to its gory set pieces. Which include, the removal of wide variety of body parts. With the most iconic of these gory set pieces involving the removal of a woman’s tongue.
And though the narrative serves as nothing more than a lose structure for a series of gory set pieces. This ultimately proves not to be a problem, since the film clocks in at just a mere sixty-seven minutes. And because of this there are never any moments where the film drags or comes to a standstill.
Performance wise, the cast are best described as serviceable. With this film’s most memorable performance being Mal Arnold in the role of Fuad Ramses, an Egyptian caterer, who is collecting body parts as part of ritual to resurrect an Egyptian goddess. He delivers a maniacal performance that is overflowing with enthusiasm.
Scum of the Earth: Teenage girls are blackmailed into posing for nude photographs.
Throughout his career, Herschell Gordon Lewis worked in a wide variety of film genres. Most notably the horror film genre, which earned him the nickname ‘The Godfather of Gore’. Another genre that he left an undeniable mark on was the soft-core black and white roughie films. With his film Scum of the Earth, widely being regarded as the film that launched the roughie film genre.
The premise is perfectly executed and pacing is not an issue as the narrative has an ample amount of nudity and depravity. With the film’s finale serving up a very satisfying conclusion to the events that have just unfolded.
From a production standpoint, the visuals do a superb job reinforcing the mood and nowhere is more evident, then when it comes to the scenes where the young women are being photographed.
The most surprising aspect of this film are the performances. With this film’s standout performance being William Kerwin in the role of Harmon Johnson, the photographer who works with the young women who have been blackmailed. Another performance of note includes, Sandra Sinclair in the role of Sandy, a young woman who exploits other women to free herself from the blackmailers.
Blood Feast and Scum of the Earth come on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. Both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. And when compared to previous home video releases, their 2k transfers are by far and away the best these two films have ever looked on home video.
Each film comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Though there are limitations to sources used for both audio mixes. These are just minor imperfections that never become intrusive. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles for both films.
Extras for Blood Feast include, an intro with director Herschell Gordon Lewis (1 minute 31 seconds), a radio spot (1 minute 2 seconds), a theater announcement (59 seconds), and a trailer (2 minutes 23 seconds), Outtakes (45 minutes 55 seconds), a featurette titled Blood Perspectives (10 minutes 54 seconds) and an audio commentary with Herschell Gordon Lewis, producer David F. Friedman moderated by Mike Vraney.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, why they decided to make gore films, nudie cuties, roughie films, background information about the cast / the crew / locations, audience reaction, the visuals and production related topics.
Extras for Scum of the Earth include, an intro with director Herschell Gordon Lewis (1 minute 11 seconds) and Scum “Clean” Scenes (4 minutes 35 seconds).
Other extras include, a reversible cover, a short film titled Carnival Magic (20 minutes 31 seconds) and trailers for The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1 minute 45 seconds), Bell, Bare and Beautiful (1 minute 31 seconds) and Goldilocks and the Three Bares (2 minutes 15 seconds).
Rounding out the extras are an archival interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis titled Herschell’s History (5 minutes 18 seconds), an interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis titled How Herschell Found his Niche (7 minutes 15 seconds) and an archival interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman (18 minutes 28 seconds).
Topics discussed in the extra titled How Herschell Found his Niche include, the films that he made before Blood Feast and David F. Friedman role in the making of their films.
Topics discussed in the archive interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman include, their thoughts on exploitation cinema and the films that they made, memories about various films that they collaborated on, nudie cuties and what made their films so desirable to audiences who wanted something not being offered by mainstream cinema.
Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall another exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.