What’s it About?
Patrons and workers at a desolate town bar try to ward off murderous and ravenous alien beasts
Directed by John Gulager
“It’s road kill revenge”
“Feast,” directed by John Gulager, is one batshit crazy movie, in the most tried and true grindhouse tradition. Let me get this out of the way now, and just admit that it attempts to provide lo fi, low brow, hokey b movie schlock, and it does it well, if at times it borders on eye rolling parody instead of admiration, respect and reverance. To do this right, the film, at the expense of any real story, decides to just administer the right combination of gory monster action, explicit situations, bar humor, vulgarities, banal dialog and plenty of “I didn’t see THAT coming” moments. Gulager’s film revels in psyching the viewer out with how the main characters (All hilariously introduced by freeze frames that include off the cuff bios with life expectancies) are randomly dispatched, leaving us to wonder if any of them are safe, who’s next, and who is going to make it out alive.
It seems that some nasty alien creatures have it in for us humans and where better to come after us (they do have a reason, I suppose) than a red neck dive bar in the middle of nowhere, or rather the Californian desert…well yeah, nowhere. After the intros and obligatory set up’s are over, we get the “hero,” (Eric Dane) barging into said dive bar, all bloody and screaming to everyone that there are murderous and ravenous creatures right behind him and that they better get ready to confront them. It’s a brief respite, then all gory hell breaks loose. The scene where a macho hero tries to save the day is something we’ve all seen countless times before (especially in horror and sci fi films) and Feast is happy to break with convention and press the reset button on how the rules hold up in these situations, and with that being said, Feast becomes an otherwise cracking fun time.
It’s all an unpredictable, and honestly, a sometimes cliched affair, but, fortunately, between the monstrous excitement we are treated to some pretty funny bits of character interaction in the bar and some laugh out loud dialog. During a quiet moment, one character approaches an old bar hag asking about aliens and insults her by saying that: “Old people know shit!” It’s little bits of juvenile humor and tasteless-ness like this that makes this film hard to hate on some levels much like “Slither” from James Gunn.
The bar inhabitants in Feast are indeed a motley crew and I won’t go into who is who (though Balthazar Getty is pretty comical as an abhorrent pool hustler named “Bozo”) or what, since in the end, it doesn’t really matter, but we are reminded of many other films where people are all stuck together in one place fighting for their lives when an evil external force is trying to get in (Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13, anyone?). Don’t even begin to think allegorically or metaphorically here, though, Feast IS NOT that type of flick. What it is, is a corny amalgam of sleazy alien attack flicks that permeated the late 70’s and 80’s in grindhouse theaters and of course, the already afore-mentioned films of Romero and Carpenter.
The movie does in fact feel like a sort of twisted black sheep sibling of Tarantino’s and Rodriguez’s ode to grind from a several years back. Gulager’s Feast seems to humorously take pride in the fact that almost none of it’s main characters have any redeeming values whatsoever and the story holds them in no esteem at all. They are very overtly un-likeable with most being crass, ugly, immature, boorish, blundering and cowardly. All the better, though, since we can’t wait to see who is eaten next, right?
By the 3rd act, when the numbers of the questionable bar patrons dwindle even more, the film gains even more gusto and gets even more gross and enters really wacky territory with an unexpected turn of events. Feast writers, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, excel in keeping us guessing and they are indeed students of all that has come before in this particular genre. No one is safe in Feast, and even if this is very familiar territory, Dunstan and Patrick know that they are out to entertain us with schlocky aplomb. They also whip up some very facetious dialog between the characters as they try to outsmart the aliens and even themselves. Director Gulager outdoes himself with the casual gore and gross proceedings showing us everything in harsh reds without batting an eye. Feast is a fun and rollicking flick but you have to be looking to have some fun indulging in this kind of affair. In the end it’s all empty calories and the cinematic equivalent of a Snickers bar.
The cast here are all enjoyable, the gore front and center, the action cliched, the monster mayhem all shaky and what not, and did I mention the gore? Oh yeah, I did. Anyway, Feast is indeed a Feast of crude, odious and off color alien monster goodness that knows what it’s meant to consent to even if that wink and nod is really a self aware dose of parody (but there is yet another funny as hell freeze frame late in the game that I didn’t see coming). Technically, Feast is a solid grindhouse fit and it’s shot and composed capably.
The make up FX are unexpectedly well done and well rendered and it appears that it’s all done practically with no CGI to be had anywhere. Feast isn’t a smart film in any way, but it is astute in playing the conventions that have made countless grindhouse movies so much fun back in the day. Like I said, it’s frenzied analog film-making in the breakneck style of Raimi’s “Evil Dead” and it serves up basic and elemental horror film tropes that are quite comical and dreadfully low brow, distasteful and offensively gross. Yep, batshit crazy. What gets better than that?
The Late Wes Craven, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck served as Executive Producers on “Feast.” Also, look for vet actor Clu Gulager as “Bartender.” He is the father of the Director.
“Drive it like you stole it!”