Does anyone else find it at all odd that Dimension would decide to launch a theatrical run for the Project Greenlight-winning gorefest “Feast” (to call it a horror movie is misleading, since it’s more funny than scary) a month before the movie makes its debut on DVD? Yeah, me too, but since this movie wasn’t even on my radar when the pass for the screening landed in my mailbox, it made the experience of seeing it all the more pleasant a surprise. Though if I may, I’d like to suggest that you not follow in the footsteps of the couple in front of me, who brought their five-year-old daughter to see this movie. I know, sounds like common sense not to bring a young, impressionable child to see a vulgar, horrifically violent movie, right? Get this: they wouldn’t even take her out of the theater when she started crying. I wanted to call Child Services, right then and there. But I didn’t, because I was having too much fun watching the movie.
From the very beginning, you can tell that director John Gulager is a big, big fan of “From Dusk Till Dawn” and Sam Raimi’s entire filmography (“Army of Darkness” in particular), and he’s hell-bent on either subverting or exploiting every cliché about horror/monster movies that has ever existed. Character development for all concerned, who are frequenting a remote saloon– and I mean remote saloon – takes place in ten-second freeze-frame shots, and boils down to the character’s name (which is really a nickname, like Honey Pie, Bozo, or Boss Man) and life expectancy, which may or may not be true (you’ll laugh at Jason Mewes’ character’s life expectancy, that’s for sure). Then, when a macho dude storms through the front door with a shotgun, telling the patrons that a group of flesh-eating alien baddies are headed this way, no one believes him…until they have overwhelming evidence to the contrary. At this point, due to their remote location, there is no escaping the bar, so they barricade themselves in. That is when you find out what the motivational speaker (Henry Rollins), the mouthy pool shark (Balthazar Getty), the heroine (Navi Rawat), and the hooker (Krista Allen) that instructs her son to wear headphones while she takes a “meeting” with Boss Man (Duane Whitaker), are truly made of. I’ll tell you right up front: your gag reflex will get seriously tested. Really. Trust me on this, I’ve just seen “Jackass: Number Two” and “The Covenant.” I know what it’s like to have my gag reflex tested, in both a good and bad way.
The biggest problem with “Feast” is…well, there are two big problems. For starters, the camera work is a mess, with nearly every attack scene an incoherent haze. There’s one death scene early in the movie where I didn’t even see the character get eaten. It was just slam-boom-bang-hey, someone disappeared. The other problem is the acting. Granted, we don’t have George Clooney or Naomi Watts here, and the ones that have experience, like Rawat and Eileen Ryan (a.k.a. Sean Penn’s mother), are serviceable. Rollins, however, could have used some help, and Honey Pie (Jenny Wade) seemed to exist to spit out one killer zinger. That, and to be covered in lots and lots of blood.
To use a very tired cliché, “Feast” is what it is, a silly but entertaining movie about monsters. If nothing else, it will cause the next guy who makes a monster movie to think twice about what his slasher flick should and should not do or be. So while it’s not rewriting the rules, it may erase a couple, which is just as good.
“Feast” might not have earned a cult following during its short run in theaters (which consisted of two midnight showings), but the pre-Halloween release of the film on DVD might just deliver a more lucrative prospect. Featuring an unrated cut of the film and a full-length audio commentary with director John Gulager and co-writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the single-disc effort also includes five deleted scenes (including an alternate ending that’s just a bit too much like “From Dusk Till Dawn”), two production featurettes (“Horror Under the Spotlight” and “The Blood and Guts of Gary Tunnicliffe”) and a short outtakes reel. Nothing too extraordinary, but it's all gravy.