Welcome back my fellow comic and pulp culture lovers. Today’s update is going to be a quick one and will focus on a master of splatter film director and comic adaptation of one of his films. A few updates back I spoke about “The Godfather Of Gore” being Lucio Fulci, and some of my friends and readers say that that title really belongs to Pittsburgh born independent filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis who used lots of blood and guts in his films over the ages. At the age of 6, Lewis had his father pass away. A few years later his mom remarried a man, and they all moved to Chicago where he spent most of his youth. Lewis got a masters degree in journalism, became a teacher, ran many radio stations and worked with a friend to make commercials under the company name Lewis And Martin Films. His first venture into film came in 1959 with the film called “The Prime Time” where he acted as the producer. This film also marked the end of him not directing his own flicks for his company. In the 1960’s Lewis made more adult softcore style films like Living Venus, Bell Bare And Beautiful and Boin-n-g! making him one of the grandfathers of the modern exploitation films. It was in 1963 that he dove head first into blood soaked horror films with the film Blood Feast, and while after this film he made a few more non-horror pictures, none of them have the cult following as films like Two Thousand Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, A Taste Of Blood, The Gruesome Twosome, The Wizard Of Gore and The Gore Gore Girls to name a few. In 2002 Lewis made a sequel to his first horror film called Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat and showed that even after all these years he still can pack a gut punch that would turn your stomach. While over the years Lewis has slowed done on making films, the director, who as of early 2014 is 84 years old, still makes a film from time to time with his latest being Zombificador that is due out soon. I have meet Mr. Lewis at Cinema Wasteland Convention some years back and will say that he was very nice and was swamped with people looking to not only get his autograph but also just to have a few moments to talk film with him. While many of his films are hit and miss with me, I have many friends that truly love Lewis and his work, and one thing is for sure, the man helped make micro/independent movies important for the modern horror viewers like George A. Romero did with Night Of The Living Dead in 1968.
Considered the first splatter film, 1963’s Blood Feast was a bloodbath that viewers enjoyed and the critics hated. The film is about a food cater who kills woman in order to steal body parts to use in rituals of eating human flesh to please an ancient Egyptian Goddess. The film did pretty well at the box office, bringing in $4 million making it some major profit off the small budget of $24 thousand. The film’s reputation earned it a spot on England’s Video Nasty list, making it the oldest film to make the list. For those who don’t know what Video Nasty list is, I will explain. In the 1980’s video rental was a major deal all over the world and many horror films were made just for this market let alone. It was the only way viewers could see many of these films from all over the world. Well in England they didn’t want people to watch many of these films, thinking that the violent acts from the movies were bad for people’s brains and could cause major acts of murder and mayhem across their country. They decided to go in and cut many of the films into poor chop jobs and some films were just banned out right. These films were dubbed “Video Nasties” and were illegal for people to watch uncut and could even cause a police raid of your house if reported you had copies of some of these films. Films like Blood Feast, Zombi 2, Night Of The Demon, House By The Cemetery, Cannibal Holocaust, Mardi Gras Massacre, Faces Of Death, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and so many more made up the list of films that were cut or just banned. Many films never made it to the Video Nasty List but were also confiscated by the police if found in your home such as Dawn Of The Mummy, Hills Have Eyes, Gates Of Hell, Basket Case, Friday The 13th, Night of The Seagulls and many more. While the list and the punishments for watching/owning these films is still around to this day, it’s enforced a little less and viewers have since been able to watch many of the films uncut without fear of punishment. Wow, I just got way off topic of Blood Feast, but here in the US if you’re looking to watch the film, it can be found on VHS and DVD uncut and uncensored.
The fans wanted it, so in 2002 Lewis revisited his film Blood Feast and made a part two called Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat. In this film we follow the grandson of the first film’s butcher as he follows in dear granddad’s footsteps. The film got positive reviews from critics but had trouble finding a distributor causing it to sit a year on the shelf before coming out via Media Blasters. The film is filled with more blood, guts and gore causing fans of the original to enjoy every crimson soaked second of it. Unlike the first film, the sequel never got a major theatrical release and really did find its home on the DVD market. The film also marked the first time in 36 years that Lewis teamed up with his old producer of the first film David F. Friedman, making this sequel as close to the original as possible. The film also turned up the splatter making it a true follow up that tried to one up the film that came before it.
So while I will credit Lewis with being a master of Splatter and the Godfather of Splatter films, I would still have to stay with the decision that Fulci is the true Godfather Of Gore! And this does not take away from the fact that Lewis is one of the best America micro budget horror film directors of the 60’s and 70’s and his influences on filmmakers is still seen in many of the films of today. I just find that the effects and gore in Fulci films are better done and have more impact on me as a horror fan and viewer. Nothing Lewis has done in the gore department has stuck with me like the gut puking and eye ball bleeding scene from Gates of Hell or the splinter in the eye effect of Zombi 2. But I guess the main question is, what director had the better comic adaptation of their film? Was it Fulci with Gates of Hell from Xmachina or Lewis with Blood Feast from Eternity? Well I will soon find out as I am about to tackle Blood Feast…But before I do, I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to thank the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics and Lone Star comics for having these issues in stock. So with all that, let’s not be late for dinner and find our spot at the table for this Blood Feast.
Blood Feast # 1 **1/2
Released in 1991 Cover Price $2.50 Eternity Comics #1 of 2
It’s 1963, and a young woman returns to her home only to be brutally killed and mutilated in her bathtub by a savage killer. Her leg is taken in the attack, and the police are baffled by who the murder is as he leaves no clues behind. Fuad Ramses owns an exotic Egyptian catering store and is hired to cook an Egyptian feast for a young woman named Suzette, and he is happy to do so as he has a plan that will restrict the goddess Ishtar with the body parts he is taken from the young ladies he is killing. Yep, he is the killer! Faud is not done with his killing yet as he attacks a couple on the beach and knocks out the guy and butchers the woman stealing her brain and later attacks a woman in her room and cuts out her tongue! The police are at a loss, and Suzette is upset over the murders but is looking forward to her party. We end the issue with her going to a lecture about Ishtar and the Pharaoh Ramses.
This comic didn’t waste any time and is filled with lots of blood and murder mayhem and 100% captures the spirit and raw terror of the film it’s based on. The plot of this issue builds that the cops are clueless to who is killing young women around town, that Suzette is a smart woman who likes Egyptian history and comes from a well off family and that Fuad Ramses loves an ancient Goddess and is killing woman in a plan to bring her back to life. The plot is pretty simple stuff, right? It’s the fact it is so simple that makes the whole comic work so well it’s clearly not about plot as it’s about shocking murders. Suzette, who is clearly the lead, is not given much of character development and is hardly shown in the issue, but you know that she is going to be a major player in the second issue. The cops are trying to hard to crack the case of who is killing the woman, but are pretty much clueless and useless. Fuad Ramses is one evil man who goes into a craze when he butchers woman and selectively harvests parts of their bodies. He reminds me for some reason of Jack The Ripper mixed with Norman Bates of Psycho. Over all Ramses is a great movie slasher that transferred to comics really well. The comic is printed on very cheap paper and the issue I have had ink bleed really bad on many pages, but I can’t hold it really against a company that was smaller and competing with Marvel and DC. The cover I have is called “The Graphic Cover Version” and I will say that it’s pretty bad and really cheapens the comic with a terrible shock image that’s a poorly blown up picture still from the movie. The art is great independent 90’s comic stuff and is done by Stan Timmons & Mike Matthew and for a black and white comic, they are really able to make the gore pop out. This first issue is a solid film adaptation and really makes me looking forward to reading the second issue and seeing just how well the comic series will look and translate. So let’s get to it cause it’s time for that Egyptian Feast!
Blood Feast # 2 **1/2
Released in 1991 Cover Price $2.50 Eternity Comics #2 of 2
After the lecture Suzette meets up with Pete Thornton, an officer who is investigating the murders and is clearly a semi-boyfriend to the lovely young lady. While Pete is giving Suzette a ride home, a call goes out that another woman has been found and while she survived the attack, she was at death’s door as one side of her face had been cut off and one eyeball removed. The cops get to the hospital, and they get a few words out of the young woman before she dies. To make things worse Suzette’s friend Trudy Sanders has been kidnapped by Fuad Ramses and is being whipped to death in order to use her blood for the feast that will bring back Ishtar. At his desk Pete takes what little information he got from the faceless woman as well as info from a professor and puts it all together and figures out that Ramses is the killer! The cops rush to Ramses’s shop and find the body of Trudy as well as many other body parts and rush to Suzette’s party. At the party Ramses asks for Suzettes help in the kitchen and just as he is about to kill her and set Ishtar free, Pete and the cops pull in and chase him to the city dump where he is crushed in the back of a garbage truck as he tries to hide. All ends well as the killer is dead and Suzette’s party can continue.
The second issue is pretty fun stuff. While a little lighter on the blood and gore, the storyline is more in full swing and we get to know Suzette and Pete a heck of allot better. Suzette is pretty likeable and is your average girl next door type who likes to learn and have fun with her family and friends. It’s easy to see why Ramses targeted her to be the rebirth shell for his Goddess. Pete is a man with a quick mind as he took small clues and busted the case wide open and got the right man on the first try and saved his girl just in time! Fuad Ramses is out for blood again, and in this issue he skins a woman’s face, beats one to death with a whip and tries to use a giant meat cleaver to kill the comic’s lead gal. Ramses’s death is brutal as well, as he is crushed by a garbage compactor and some how it seems very fitting that the scumbag dies that way. This issue also seems to be filled with little touches of black humor that mostly comes from Suzette’s mom. The cover is very much an improvement over issue 1’s, and the art is once more well done by the team-up of Timmons and Matthew who knew how to capture the feeling of the film with ink. Over all this issue was a nice closing to a b-movie comic adaptation. Below is a look at the art style of these comics.
So we have covered a lot of horror comics in the past couple of months, and I have not done a Fantasy Warfare since The Predator took on The Cougar back in April, and to me it just seems like it’s time to have another battle! Coming out of the Red Corner is that undead priest of fright, Father William Thomas from The Gates Of Hell! And his opponent coming out of the Blue Corner, naked and ready to snap some necks Goddess from Lust For Frankenstein! And lastly their opponent out of the Green Corner is that master of the butchery, the bug eyed master of disaster, Fuad Ramses from Blood Feast! The battlefield will take place in a graveyard off of a wooded path that has not been in use for over 87 years in the small town of Corwin. So let’s see what happens in this battle of Demon, Madman and Stitched Together Monster, shall we?
Maria is a 26 years old jogger and fitness fanatic. Today she has decided to rundown an old path that runs through a part of the woods that is near an old cemetery that is said to be haunted, the local kids call it the mouth of hell but she has ran down this path a few months back and found the sites very pleasing and never seen a living soul let alone a dead one! Fuad Ramses has chosen this path to claim his next young victim but has been let down when he has not seen a person for the 3 hours he has been waiting in the woods near the path with meat cleaver in hand, just as he is about to give up Maria in her yoga pants comes running by and he knows that she has the left butt cheek he needs for his Feast. Ramses starts to follow her and when the moment is right he pounces on Maria who has stopped to tie her shoe, as Ramses is about to hack his victim, an unknown hand smacks him away and the killer goes flying and crashing through the old gate that leads to the cemetery. As Maria sees who her protector is, she lets out a scream as standing before her is a naked woman with stitches making awkward and weird faces and let’s out the words “your pretty” as she holds out her hand and helps the jogger up. Maria thanks the woman who tells her that she is called Goddess and just at that moment Ramses sneaks up behind Maria and pulls her into the cemetery screaming “That Butt Cheek Is Mine!” As Maria screams, Goddess moves towards the cemetery to save her new friend and possible lover from the hands of a killer. Inside the cemetery Ramses swings the cleaver and clips Maria in the leg causing her to fall, he raises the cleaver high and is about to place the sharp metal blade into her skull when Goddess grabs the back of his neck causing him to stiff up in pain. She turns the killer over to look him in the eye before she snaps his neck, and as Ramses pleads for his life Goddess freezes for a moment and has a dead stare. She looses her grip on Ramses and her eyes start to bleed and she begins to puke up her guts and falls to the ground dead once again. Ramses grabs his meat cleaver and turns to see Father Thomas standing there. He then sees Maria who has made it out of the cemetery and is down the path. He makes a run for the gates to exit and get his intended victim but the gates slam shut in his face. He turns to see Father Thomas right behind him, and Ramses takes a swing with his cleaver. As Maria makes it back to her car, she sits in the driver seat and hears the last cry of life from Ramses, and she now truly knows why that path is compared to hell.
Winner: Father William Thomas
Like Ramses or Goddess stood a chance against the evil Father who can kill with a blink of his eye! So now I am at the point where I have to pick which series was better in comic form. While I like the art and story of Gates of Hell, I would have to pick Blood Feast as the better comic series, mostly because the full set was released and didn’t leave me hanging on the storyline. But movie-wise I would say Gates of Hell is way better than Blood Feast so I would guess they are tied. I love the fact that Eternity Comics took a chance and made a comic book version of a 1963 film in 1991 and wish they would have done more comic versions of Lewis films. I would have loved to have had comic versions of Wizard of Gore and Two Thousand Maniacs to read and review on this blog. Wow I have written like a machine as of late and need to take some time away to get some work done on Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre. So for the next update I am going to turn Rotten Ink over to my girl once again as she is going to talk to you all about IDW’s C.S.I comics! So until then, read a comic or five and make sure to watch a local horror film and enjoy nerd life to the fullest.