Having recently sung the praises for The Blair Witch Project on social media, horror legend Stephen King has taken to Twitter to off a prompt for fans of the genre: “What is the worst horror movie you ever saw?” Naturally the creator of Carrie, The Shining, and The Stand had an answer of his own as well, calling the 1963 splatter film Blood Feast from cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis as the worst he’s ever seen. The film followed a killer that was stalking and murdering women, collecting their body parts for a “Blood Feast” to the “Egyptian goddess” Ishtar.
King’s declaration that the film is the worst horror movie he’s ever seen is probably shared by a few others. Upon its release Blood Feast was called a “totally inept shocker” by Variety with The Los Angeles Times calling it “a blot on the American film industry.” The film was shot in Miami, Florida over the course of just four days and on a budget of just over $20k. Blood Feast would go on to gross over $4 million at the box office playing primarily in drive-ins in the 1960s and being advertised with gross-out promotions that handed out free barf bags. The success of the movie would push Lewis into the gore film full time, resulting in him directing other entries in the genre including Scum of the Earth!, Two Thousand Maniacs!, and The Wizard of Gore. A sequel, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, was produced in 2002.
Responses to King’s prompt resulted in a wide array of answers ranging from the expected like The Wicker Man remake and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the slightly sacrilege like Hereditary and Rosemary’s baby, and even the King directed Maximum Overdrive.
What is the worst horror movie you ever saw? For me, BLOOD FEAST.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) June 29, 2021
To add to the infamy of Blood Feast, the film became a part of the ‘video nasties” list in the UK, joining other horror classics like The Last House on the Left, Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, and The House by the Cemetery. Blood Feast was even banned from the country for decades (a version with just 23 seconds excised was released in 2001 with the uncut film being released 42 years after its initial release).
Though the legacy of Blood Feast may not be known to many, the fact that it centered on a machete wielding killer means it has a specific place as a major influence on the genre.