Retro Review: ‘Blood Diner’
Screenwriter Michael Sonye and producer Lawrence Kasanoff formed a friendship over their mutual love of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ revolutionary splatter flick Blood Feast. The two loved this movie so much that Kasanoff purchased the rights to make the sequel, but as he and Sonye worked on the script they realized Blood Feast 2 was going to have a much different tone than it’s predecessor so perhaps they needed to make it entirely new movie all together. Thus they changed the name and we as moviegoers got the 1987 cult classic Blood Diner.
Brothers Michael and Gregory, have been inspired by their murderous Uncle Anwar since they were boys to be devoted members of the bloody Cult of Sheetar. Once they become adults, the two twisted siblings resurrect Anwar’s brain in a jar and under it’s guidance prepare for the coming of Sheetar using their diner as a cover. They launch into a campaign of brutally slaughtering young women and sewing their body parts together to create a body for their god to inhabit and using the remaining organs for the “blood feast” which would accompany their ceremony. Though they must work quick if they are to complete their calling because two poorly dressed police officers are right on their heels.
Fittingly the best way I can describe Blood Diner is that it is Blood Feast, with a heaping layer of 80’s cheese. The basic plot points are the same, but the punk rock aesthetic from the Decade of Excess dominates the landscape. Despite the big brash and in-your-face elements of the flick it was made on an incredibly small budget. Director Jackie Kong had just finished making the Linda Blair flick Night Patrol and had made enough connections to secure the funding for Blood Diner for her acquaintance Lawrence Kassanoff. As a reward for coming through in such a big way, Kong was give the director’s chair. She saw this movie as a challenge she was anxious to dive into, given how much there was to do with so few resources. The production would not allow the hiring actual SAG members for the cast, so Kong turned to the local punk rock and wrestling scenes to fill out the cast assuming that they would at least have experience with performing and she could build from there. This only added to the raucous attitude and style of Blood Diner which has endeared it to horror fans.
Given the nonchalant indulgence in violence and nudity in the flick, Blood Diner became one of those movies you watched in secret and hoped your parents did not catch you with it. This led to the horror flick becoming a cult favorite over the years which still enjoys popularity in the horror crowd. The chaotic finale in of itself is worth watching the movie for complete with; cannibalism, zombies, pagan gods, lightning blasts, and of course a loud and eccentric band. There is so much going on and the intentionally shoddy editing keeps you wondering what exactly is happening at any given second.
With a recent Blu Ray release there has been a bit of a resurgence in the popularity of Blood Diner. Old viewers were reminded of how much fun the movie was, and newcomers were curious to see what this flick was all about. For any aspiring filmmaker looking to make their own project with limited resources this movie proves to be perfect research material.