And it’s a better buffet than the one Golden Corral puts out each night.
Yes, the movie I’ll be discussing today is Feast, the film born from Project Greenlight in 2005. As well as it’s ensuing, straight-to-DVD sequels.
Written and directed by John Gulager, starring Krista Allen, Balthazar Getty, Navi Rawat, Eric Dane, Clu Gulager, and Jenny Wade, the film is a simple one. Set in a bar, in an undisclosed location–your only hints as to its whereabouts are the desert and mountains that surround it– the film begins when the character referred to as Bozo, according to the title card that appears displaying his name and several fun facts (such as his special skills, life expectancy, etc.) enters the bar and begins hustling other patrons at the pool table. The camera dances about the room, finding new characters to introduce with those hilarious title cards.
Very basic character types are established quickly, (the dumb blonde, the wise old bartender, the pathetic and whiny excuse of a man, the fat guy, etc.) and since Gulager isn’t aiming for a character-based film, the action gets started right away.
In walks a new character, soaked in blood, carrying the head of a … creature .. he says he knows nothing about, except that it runs fast, has “claws like ginsu knives,” and is hungry. Very hungry.
His title card announces him as the Hero, that his life expectancy is fantastic.
Then, after a quick swallow from a bottle of beer, he is yanked out a window and decapitated.
So much for that hero.
In walks another character who helps in the aftermath after the first Hero’s death. She’s the former Hero’s wife, and herself a Heroine.
After a small, young creatures terrorizes the patrons of the bar, cutting off a woman’s leg and ripping another man’s face right from the bone, they spend a few minutes discussing the situation.
And so on and so forth goes the story. Lots of people die, some in horrible, awful ways, and some of the least expected people to survive do somehow make it through the night to escape into dawn’s light.
But that’s just how these movies work. Feast isn’t really about scaring you, although (in the first film, anyway) they can get you to jump a couple of times on the first viewing. No, this movie is more about taking the accepted rules of a horror film (blonde cheerleaders die right after you see their breasts, black guys die first, sex will get you killed, etc.) and turning them completely upset down. You’ll finish watching this movie and think..
Wow. Anything can happen in a Feast film.
The thing I enjoyed about the first Feast is that it was at times funny, sometimes even downright hilarious–you’ll definitely find yourself laughing more than you’ll ever be screaming–but it still managed to fit in a few moments of fear. Obviously, the director and writers knew what they were going for, and they knew it’d be difficult to be taken seriously (generally, in horror, you’re not taken seriously unless some young hottie dies right after she has sex for the first time; darn those necessary morals) and just went with what felt right. You have to admire that kind of confidence. They were right on the ball on this one.
I would even go so far as to they were on it with the second…. but…..
Starting off with a quick recap of the events in Feast, Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds, jumps right into the action following the same formula. They establish basic character stereotypes (the cheap car salesmen, the cheating hippie-crazy blonde, the new whiny excuse for a man, etc.), this time bringing intelligence in the form of a little person wrestler and his little person teammate. (Yes, there are little people in this film.)
This film stars Jenny Wade and Clu Gulager, reprising their roles as Honey Pie and Bartender, respectively. The only named actor in this film is Martin Klebba, who plays Thunder, the English-speaking intelligent little person wrestler.
Right away, the mayhem begins. Instead of a bar, the monsters have an entire town to play in. A chick biker gang is on the look out for the character Bozo from the first film (who killed a member of their gang who just happens to be the sister of the leader). Although this is also the biggest plot hole of the entire film. (In Feast, the character Harley Mom–the gang member–was killed by an explosion set off by Bozo in order to lure the creatures away in an attempt to reach a vehicle. Supposedly, the only people who knew she was alive at the time were Bozo and Boss Man, who is later killed. Yet somehow, Bartender finds out and is able to tell the Biker Queen that her sister died at the hands of man instead of monster. Hmmm… Oops.)
If you’re willing to play along and forget about the glaring plot hole on which almost the entire movie rests, you’ll still have an enjoyable experience. Instead of mostly night scenes, the film takes place mostly in daylight and open areas, showing the monsters. This is one of my favorite parts. I rather enjoyed that the crew realized we, the audience, know these are just rubber masks and such, and don’t bother trying to maintain the pretense of “dark, spooky rooms and closets where any creature could pop out.” They just go for it.
Early on in the film a car is shown flying through the air to land in the street and explode. Just another day in the world of Feast. (This may also make sense later on.. very much later on.)
Quickly people begin dying, the Bartender gets revenge for Honey Pie deserting him and the others in the first film, and the usual chaos unfolds.
A few more fun facts are revealed about the monsters, in the form of an idiot doing an autopsy which results in some grotesque .. well.. just grotesque stuff.
Throughout the film, this group of survivors is trying to reach a safe haven, in the form of the Smalltown police station and jail, the structure they imagine to be the safest. Unfortunately, a meth-head and drug dealer was in the jail during the invasion and is refusing them access. The survivors try the strangest methods to get inside, including building a little person catapult (which they test on poor Grandma, who was covered in monster digestive juices and has stewed inside a potato sack).
Before that, though, there is a scene which will either make the series for you… or break it entirely. The wussy man character in this film, named Greg, spends the entire film trying to be a hero. As dawn breaks on day 2 (or maybe 3?), the survivors are on the roof of a building, trying to figure out how to get across the street to the jail. Suddenly, they hear a baby crying down below, trapped in a station wagon the car salesman (called Slasher) sold to the family the night of the attack.
Greg quickly runs down and rescues the baby from the car, only to be surrounded by monsters, desperately trying to outrun them back to the building. But he is slow and left with only one recourse. It’s him or the baby.
He throws the baby. (No, I am not kidding. After seeing the first, I realized there were no limits to what the Feast makers were willing to do.) I had been expecting the monsters following to yank the baby mid-air and eat it… but the scene is far worse. Suffice it to say, of all the scenes throughout each movie, this is the one that Gulager receives the most hell about.
Being a fan of crazy, outrageous stuff, I loved this scene. If you break it down, it’s probably the most realistic scene in the entire series. A man is forced to choose to die to save another or make a sacrifice to save himself. It sticks completely to the man’s character and that is what I respect the most. The characters aren’t deep, but they never do anything out of character.
Shortly after, they build the little person catapult, test it, try it on a little person and it fails miserably. (Well, really, did you think it was going to work?) The movies ends suddenly with the other survivors on the roof, listening to the monsters pounding on the stairwell door, the other wrestler supposedly blown up by the meth-head who somehow found dynamite in the jail, and Honey Pie, the betraying survivor from the first film, getting up from the ground and screaming her head off.
Overall, this wasn’t a terrible sequel. There’s some awesome death scenes, a glaring plothole, and some sweet gore. For a small budget flick (they were giving less than 2 million to do two movies), it’s definitely not the worse of the lot. And if this is your type of horror/comedy, then you’ve hit the jack pot. My only real complaint is that they changed the introduction of the characters, and instead of using title cards made small vignettes about each character, giving each a chance to speak. The title cards were better.
Though truly, the same can’t be said for Feast 3: The Happy Finish….
Seeing as how Feast 2 and Feast 3 were made as two-fer movies, as in back to back with a limited budget, I’m willing to give this film a lot of leeway. Especially since they returned to the use of title cards to introduce the characters, as well as keeping small vignette clips for the characters to introduce themselves, or offer a bit of wisdom.
With this film we see the return of classic Hero characters. (But, well, you’ll just have to watch to see what happens. Remember the rules of Feast: Whatever you’re expecting to happen, what would happen in a traditional horror film, well the exact opposite goes here. And everybody gets their comeuppance. You do wrong, you get wrong is the Karmic law of the land.)
As such, there’s an amazing, disgusting scene right at the start that’ll turn your stomach while you laugh about the justice of it all.
Unfortunately, the best parts of Feast 2 (like the daylight scenes, plenty of monsters to go around) are not repeated. It’s quite obvious the crew spent their money on the first two-fer, then scrambled to make a film of the second. There are a lot of dark, night vision scenes. There must have been zero money left for sets. The survivors decide, stupidly but necessary for plot, to crawl into the sewers and through the dark tunnels make their way to the nearest city.
But before they do, there’s plenty of action on the streets. People start dying, someone is seriously injured but amazingly still alive, and a hero shows up. They finally make their way to the jail, which proves not to be as safe as they’d hoped and the next morning they’re on the streets again. The car salesman gets it, well, he takes it up the wazoo and a new creature is born, the Slasher/Hybrid. (Just hilarious. Believe you me.)
The crew is saved by a mentally disabled character called Short Bus Gus, or the Prophet. He’s the one who convinces them below ground is the way to go. A new enemy is met in the sewers. Although in the first two this isn’t alluded to at all, it turns out that those people who only get puked on a little by the creatures, receiving just enough digestive juice to cover them, but not enough to turn them to soup, go a little crazy as the stomach acid works its way into the brain. These people are called Pukers. They like killing other people.
There’s a trippy fight in the sewers, another hero is lost and the survivors just barely make it to the surface again, followed by the Slasher/Hybrid who seems to retain the smallest amount of memory. The creature cruelly tortures his wife (no doubt soon to be ex) by killing her ex-lover, driving her to a homicidal rage. When she realizes she has no weapons left, she uses the only sharp objects she has… her teeth. Together the group rips (bites) the creature to death.
Biker Queen, now alone since every member of her gang has died, and puked upon and likely to turn anytime, sacrifices herself for the greater good, leading the creatures away on a dirt bike.
Leaving only Bartender, Secrets (the hippy dippy blonde), and Lightning (the other little person wrestler) alive in the city.
And then… well…. then things get really weird. There’s only another, maybe, five minutes of film left, but the finale will leave you with your mouth agape (or so says a Mariachi singer who serenades the audience with the tale of Feast, and a hint at a possible Feast 4 that might explain everything, but if it doesn’t, don’t fucking blame him!).
Overall, looking over the series as a whole, the first film is obviously the best. I’d rank the third film next, just because of the extraordinarily out there things they do in the name of a laugh or outright weirdness. Followed finally by Feast 2, just the go between, the setting stage for what’s next to come. Though I will warn you that if you try to make sense of these films you will experience symptons akin to vertigo, dizziness and possibly unconsciousness. These movies aren’t meant to mean anything, they sure as heck aren’t meant to be grandiose films of legacy. They’re just fun.
And sometimes, that’s all a movie needs to be.