Friday, August 19, 2022

Blood Diner


Blood Diner
Jackie Kong

Blood Diner is a delirious mess. I don’t think I like it, but I keep coming back to because there are some inventively goofy sequences, so there must be something compelling going on. The biggest issue with Blood Diner is that it is always running at full tilt. Every moment feels like a grotesque cartoon which would work fine in a short film, but Blood Diner just becomes exhausting. The whole enterprise feels like it runs out of steam as we hit the climax which is just when things should be reaching peak zaniness. This is a problem that plagued horror in the later half of the 1980s, too much comedy and not enough horror elements. 

"Look, I'm just really into contact lens solution, OK?"

The film is a riff/homage on Blood Feast (1963), a film that is also very silly but plays it very serious which manages to be much more interesting (while not being a very good film either). Michael (Rick Burks) and George (Carl Crew) Tutman are brothers who have been indoctrinated into the cult of Sheetar a goddess worshiped by the lost civilization of Lemuria. Their uncle, a disembodied brain in a jar, guides them in the ritual to resurrect their goddess and it involves harvesting a lot of body parts from unsuspecting women. 

In 2022 it is difficult to escape the misogyny inherent in the movie’s premise. The vast majority of women in Blood Diner are reduced to victims, literal slabs of meat to be consumed. Thankfully the movie never lingers on their suffering it is much more interested in silly spectacle. The flip side of this is that cast is filled out with non-white actors including a POC woman as the antagonist looking to bring the Tutman family to justice. A nice change from the parade of square-jawed white cis men who were (and still are) the heroic forces of so many films.


"Bring on the corn on the cob!"

The director, Jackie Kong, has made a movie I did like, The Being (1981), which is also a campy homage to horror films of the past, but that one works much better than Blood Diner. Aside from a dream sequence, the monster movie elements are played straight and this flip flop of tone makes for a much more interesting film. 

Blood Diner is trash, but it supposed to be trash. It’s a trashy homage to a trash film. Technically that makes it double trash. I personally have a pretty low tolerance for movies that try to deliberately be camp and emulate ‘bad movies.’ Ultimately, I feel like Blood Diner is just trying to hard to be wacky and gross and it becomes annoying rather than entertaining. I’m not a fan of Blood Feast either but it is a far more entertaining film and at least has some historical importance as an early gore film. Blood Diner is a movie that has its fair share of fans, but I can’t count myself among them.

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