I consider myself one of the lucky. I, along with my friend Lisa, got to see FEAST in the theater. It was at the Mann’s Chinese 6 in Hollywood and there was a Q&A afterwards. Director John Gulager was super open about making the movie and how much he butted heads with the producers, much to the chagrin of producer Chris Moore, who was there as well. You could seriously feel the tension between the two of them, and as a guy in the audience, it was pretty awesome.
The movie itself is, in my opinion, fantastic. Fun, gross, and creepy, it had everything I hoped it would. Apparently I wasn’t alone, since they made two more of them, creating a whole trilogy of monsters who kill and fuck, though not always in that order, and the people trying to survive. The sequels, to my dismay, weren’t as well received. I’m here to be the kind of jerk that will explain to all you haters why you’re wrong.
The FEAST trilogy is a goddamn masterpiece.
First thing we need to get out of the way: the FEAST trilogy is one of the best trilogies ever made. Partly because, in reality there aren’t many trilogies. Look at this list. Look at it. There are some terrible movies on there. Most of them aren’t even really trilogies. Can we really look at the LEGALLY BLONDE series as a trilogy? Elle Woods isn’t even in the third one!
FEAST easily climbs to the higher ranks of the trilogy list just by being an actual trilogy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a confusing trilogy at times. Gulager’s decision to reuse actors who died in previous chapters can make things seem weird if you aren’t paying attention. Still, what the FEAST trilogy does have is the two main things needed for a trilogy. The first is that there are three connected films. The second is the storytellers.
The FEAST trilogy is directed by Gulager and written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton. Like Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale with BACK TO THE FUTURE, these three men created a universe unto itself and played by the rules set in the first all the way until the very end. Also like BACK TO THE FUTURE, the FEAST trilogy ends with a big “fuck you” to the rules. While BTTF’s rule breaking is done to make the audience smile (Doc Brown breaking his own rules of time travel by creating a new time machine and hopping around with his family) FEAST does it for the laugh (I’m not going to spoil it here. If you haven’t seen it, get the movies and enjoy!).
Laughter is really the important part of the FEAST trilogy. The movies are fun. Gross fun, for sure, but fun all the same. These are more in line with the EVIL DEAD series (which, now that there’s a TV series following the adventures of Ash, is no longer a trilogy) in that the how-tos and what-fors take a backseat to the gore and gags. I’m pretty sure there’s not a deeper meaning to the FEAST movies. This isn’t a series where you walk away feeling that you learned something about humanity or have a better understanding of the subconscious mind or anything fancy like that. These movies are mindless popcorn fun.
That isn’t meant to put the FEAST trilogy down in any way. Mindless fun can be real hard to make. Look at how many mindless fun movies come out each year, and how many of them are terrible bores. THE LONE RANGER. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR. It isn’t easy to make a movie just dumb enough to be fun but not so dumb the audience checks out. Dunston, Melton, and Gulager pulled that off not just once, but three times.
And they pulled it off with pretty low budgets. The cost of all three movies is roughly seven million dollars, an amount that even Jason Blum would find impressive (please don’t fire me, Mr. Blum!). To be fair to those who don’t like FEAST 2 and 3, they do look way cheaper than the first film, but they were also made for a lot less and are much more imaginative. Where FEAST takes place in a single location over one night, FEAST 2 and 3 travel through an entire city over the course of a few days. Not since the days of the PLANET OF THE APES saga did we see a series get larger as the budgets got smaller.
So yes, FEAST 2 and 3 look cheaper, but they also have some of the craziest ideas ever put to film. For example, this scene from FEAST II: SLOPPY SECONDS (spoilers if you haven’t seen the movies!)
How amazing is that! That is straight up crazy and I love it! Did you notice something else in that scene? Yeah, the monsters look awesome. More to it, they don’t look like bugs.
These days, every alien and monster in a movie looks like a cockroach or prawn or some other thing that exists. The monsters in FEAST look creepy and unlike anything you’ll find on this here planet. The FEAST monsters, designed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe have a look all their own. Why we don’t have twelve inch statuettes and figurines of these things all over the place, I don’t know. These are monsters that deserve to be on the shelves of cult classic monster lovers.
Speaking of cult classic, did I mention Clu Gulager yet? Yeah, he’s in these movies. All three of them. Talk about pedigree, the guy worked with The Duke himself, John Wayne. He’s in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD! He was in three episodes of MURDER, SHE WROTE as three different characters! And he’s not the only actor worth talking about. We got Balthazar Getty, Henry Rollins, Judah Friedlander, and the underappreciated Jenny Wade! Two of those people appear in more than one of the FEAST movies!
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why some people may not like the FEAST trilogy. I’d be willing to bet that these people, not unlike Don Johnson’s character in TIN CUP, probably hate dogs too. They don’t like things that are pure joy, like a puppy, mixed with pure gross, like a puppy puking in your bed. I can’t help these people. I can’t convince them that sometimes, specially in these days of depression over endless wars, stressing over bills, and worrying about wearing skinny jeans to Thanksgiving dinner, we sometimes need to just turn our brains off and watch something incredibly fun.
So if you haven’t seen the FEAST movies, I suggest you check them out. If you have seen the trilogy and didn’t care for it, can I suggest giving them another go? Maybe you weren’t in the right place when you did see them. Maybe you’ve learned how to shut off the old noggin now.
Maybe you need to just let go for a bit.
*All Photos: FEAST trilogy; Dimension Films