The crew at Camp Motion Pictures (SPLATTER BEACH) launches it’s contemporary microbudget line—Bloody Earth Films—with this latest project from Husband and Wife filmmaking team Mike Watt and Amy Lynn Best. For those of you who follow Watt and Best’s Happy Cloud Pictures, A FEAST OF FLESH started out its cinematic life as ABATTOIR which is the French term for a slaughterhouse—a less marketable but more appropriate title for the film.
Speaking of Marketability, Watt notes on the special features that after his grueling decade long production on THE RESURRECTION GAME, A FEAST OF FLESH is Happy Cloud’s version of selling out. It’s Watt and Best’s opportunity to put to good use all the knowledge they’ve gained making films and delineating what sells in genre cinema. With that vast catalogue of knowledge behind the lens, the production still could have suffered had the pair corralled themselves into a corner and manufactured a film choc-full-o by-the-books formula. The good news is that A FEAST OF FLESH does not settle into the mire of mediocrity that sinks so many other seemingly simple films.
A FEAST OF FLESH is a vampire film—no questions asked. It features a brothel of beauties lead by the forcefully pervading presence of Star Amy Lynn Best—who based her passion for the project on her childhood love of the 1982 Dolly Parton vehicle BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS. Writer/Director Watt sets his nest of bloodsuckers up in the Bathory House—a moniker that promises to deliver to its victim’s unyielding bloodshed.
As the film opens Terri (Stacey Bartlebaugh-Gmys) is being brutally assaulted in a dark and dank alleyway. When she is saved by a mysterious woman, and assured that she will be taken care of, Terri never imagines that this offer would make her a creature of the night. Later when John (Steve Foland), the best buddy of Terri’s ex-boyfriend Seth (Aaron Bernard) discovers that Terri is working as a prostitute in the Bathory House, the pair set out to save her along with the help of Irish mercenary, Sheridan (played by Watt), and his band of IRA thugs. What Seth didn’t count on, was that their quest to save his lady love would upset the delicate accord that has held this peaceful Pennsylvanian town together for years. Now, it’s going to be all out war as the IRA takes on the centuries old inhabitants of the Bathory House in one blood-soaked and bullet-ridden finale.
Conventional wisdom when it comes to a brothel of Vampires is that the viewer is about to be treated to an orgy of sanguinary sapphism. The proof of this promise can be traced across an innumerable legion of DVDs where a bevy of bare-breasted babes softly drain the very life from their victims. A FEAST OF FLESH makes good on its word within moments of the opening credits. It’s provides an immediate and—for the budget—effective kill sequence. This is followed up with a few minor formalities before a pair of newlyweds looking to “expand the boundaries” find out that it’s gonna be a short Honeymoon. So, once the film has established that it’s going to feature just the right amount of gratuitous blood and breasts, where on earth is the project left to go? Obviously, someone has got to kill these bloodsucking bitches, and that would be the logical progression and conclusion of the storyline. In lesser hands the plot would have more or less stopped right there and what we’d be left with is the genre version of a Skinamax film. Thankfully Watt takes his opportunity to interject a few interesting ideas into what easily could have been a paint-by-numbers plot structure.
A few films have sent trained killers after vamp nests, but Watt’s film takes the steps a bit further out of whack. First, his bands of brothers aren’t holy crusaders looking to rid the world of evil—they’re members of the Irish Republican Army. On that point alone, I was already anticipating some pyro (sadly it doesn’t come to pass). Another interesting aspect in the film is that the IRA members know full well what goes on at the Bathory House; they’ve just formulated some kind of appeasement program where so long as the Vamps leave the Townies alone, all remains well. The final piece of Watt’s puzzle—one that almost demands a more detailed explanation—is the characters arsenal of “Faith-based weaponry”. Now, I know what you’re saying Crosses and Holy Water are nothing new. But, that’s where you’re wrong. In Watt’s universe “you” have to believe in the sanctity of the object, not the vampire! It means that if I think that my dog-eared copy of The Psychotronic Video Guide is the Holy Bible of genre literature and I believe that with all my soul, and I worship at the great book, then that book could protect me from the Vampires. Ok…I kinda went overboard there, but you get my drift. To better illustrate, Watt has one character assault Best’s Madame Elizabeth with a dollar bill! And to think some once said not to worship false Gods.
As I mentioned before, Bloody Earth Films is a microbudget line of DIY productions. So, that’s a point you’re gonna want to keep clear before you plop this sucker into your DVD player. But, for a zero-budget vampire film the highs certainly outweigh the lows. The cast is overall effective with some shining performances from Best and Aaron Bernard. Even Watt’s jarringly unrealistic sing-song Irish droll and quippy slang amuses after you get used to it—he’s like a nasty Leprechaun with a Tommy Gun! A cameo appearance by Indie-queen Debbie Rochon helps to flesh out some backstory on Best’s character. Fans of Shock-O-Rama’s latest vixen CHAINSAW SALLY will want to keep their eyes peeled for an appearance by April Burril as well. Watt’s direction is solid and the fight scenes are pretty well choreographed. The consistency of the shot footage in the fight sequences may seem disjointed to some. But, if you’ve seen some of the choppy micro-crap that I’ve had to look at over the years, you’ll think that Mike did just fine.
Overall, A FEAST OF FLESH delivers on Happy Cloud Pictures intents. It provides plenty of gore and whores to satisfy those of you with more juvenile tastes (just kidding), but more importantly, it shows that innovation and originality can still find their way into tried and true storylines. For all the feasting and fleshing that the film flaunts, it also displays an abundance of inspired filmmaking and I’ll take that over another bucket of blood any day.