Blood Diner (1987)
Director: Jackie Kong
Starring: Rick Burks, Carl Crew, LaNette La France, Roger Dauer, Max Morris & Drew Godderis
Released by: Lionsgate
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Serving up a goofy helping of gore, Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series welcomes Blood Diner to the menu! When brainwashed brothers Michael (Rich Burks, The Under Achievers) and George (Carl Crew, The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer) Tutman are ordered by their deceased uncle to resurrect the goddess Sheetar, the duo use their successful restaurant to lure scandalous women for their body parts and to sacrifice a pure virgin to complete their black magic ritual.
Originally intended to be a sequel to Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast, the Jackie Kong (Night Patrol) helmed cannibalistic comedy throws everything but an ounce of seriousness into its buffet of blood and over the top absurdity. 20 years after witnessing the death of their serial killing uncle, brothers Michael and George Tutman loyally dig up his remains and have the eyes and brain of Uncle Anwar guide them on their mission to resurrect the powerful Egyptian goddess Sheetar. Serving the local community with their restaurant’s popular healthy food options containing secret ingredients sure to make the masses barf, Michael and George are ordered to collect multiple body parts from promiscuous female prospects and most importantly, locate a virgin to be presented to the mighty Sheetar during the aptly named blood buffet ceremony. As butchered bodies begin turning up all over the city, Detectives Mark Shepard (Roger Dauer, My Lovely Monster) and Sheba Jackson (LaNette La France in her only film credit) seek to bring the criminal minds to justice.
Boasting unbelievably silly performances, ridiculous dialogue and cartoonish levels of blood splattering violence, Blood Diner had routinely earned the reputation as a “bad movie” and remarkably found itself banned in several countries for its extreme content. While its low-budget limitations and amateurish nature is evident, Blood Diner remains buckets of gooey fun that commits to its comedic sensibilities and never lets up. Tonally bizarre with a bevy of personalities ranging from punkers and rockabilly boppers to greasers and Hitler lookalikes, the VHS cult favorite keeps viewers head-scratchingly rocking along to its uniquely selected soundtrack of 50s doo-wop tunes incorporating an added dimension of oddness. Mixing independent wrestling, nude aerobics and a rock club finale that turns patrons into green, poorly face-painted flesh eaters to the already insane festivities, the highly unusual blend of wackiness and trashiness make Blood Diner an entertaining, freaky feature like few others.
Newly remastered from the film’s original vault materials, Lionsgate presents Blood Diner fully uncut with a 1080p transfer, sporting 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Noticeably cleaned up with no troublesome signs of dirt or scratches, the cheaply made feature casts a softer appearance that maintains skin tones nicely while, enriching the bright red, bloody offerings rampant throughout the film. Furthermore, no digital scrubbing is apparent ensuring a naturally filmic presentation that honors appreciative black levels during the film’s final club sequence and strong details observed in makeup choices and Sheetar’s razor-toothed design work. Much like the debut installment of the Vestron Video Collector’s Series, Blood Diner appears light years ahead of its grainy tape sourced predecessors. Although moderately restrained in its projection, the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix supports audible levels of dialogue and caters to its doo-wop and rockabilly centered track selections nicely. While the mix may not be wildly dynamic, sound quality is more than efficient.
Loaded with a smorgasbord of bonus features including, an Audio Commentary with Director Jackie Kong and the top-notch retrospective Killer Cuisine: The Making of Blood Diner (1:04:31). Produced by Red Shirt Pictures, this impressive five-part featurette hosts interviews with the rarely public Jackie Kong, Screenwriter Michael Sonye, Producer Jimmy Maslon, Creative Consultant Bill Osco and countless cast members covering the film’s origin, its lengthy writing process, the tragic passing of Star Rick Burks and the film’s ongoing appreciation by cult lovers. In a career of crafting deeply researched retrospectives on B-movie favorites, Killer Cuisine ranks as one of Red Shirt Pictures’ best efforts. Also included, an Archival Interview with Project Consultant Eric Caidin (8:01) recorded in 2009, Theatrical Trailers (4:49), TV Spots (1:34) and a Still Gallery (5:34).
In only their sophomore outing, Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series keeps its high-caliber quality in tune for the unbelievable domestic high-def debut of Blood Diner. As ridiculously loony and uproariously funny as remembered, Director Jackie Kong’s goofy gore show looks splendid and arrives with another wildly impressive serving of delectable extras to chomp into. Available for a limited time, Blood Diner is one of the best, fully-loaded genre treats to land in dedicated fan’s collections this Halloween season or any other for that matter!