Blood Diner (Jackie Kong, 1987)
It was while reading that director Kong originally envisioned her silly, over-the-top, bad taste, gore-gag fest following the mentally challenged Tutman brothers as they resurrect their homicidally maniacal Uncle Anwar (as a brain with eyes in a jar that keeps yelling insults at them) who orders them to set up an LA diner to kill women, collect their body parts and raise the Lumerian goddess Sheetar (who, for whatever reason, ends up having a sort of razor-sharped human-devouring vagina on her stomach) as a sequel to late cult director Hershell Gordon Lewis’ 1963 influential (very) early splatter effort Blood Feast that I was really able to formulate what was missing from Blood Diner (and the similar ilk put out by companies like Troma, where President and wannabe director Lloyd Kaufman churns out one low-rent, often barely passable gore-gag entry after another – in fact, I’m surprised Blood Diner never showed up on their distribution shelf).
While “Diner” is certainly passably amusing enough for 82 minutes (though filmmaker and comrade Larry Fessenden once pointed out to me that based on the fact that you can walk out of the theater and get hit by a bus… do you really wanna have spent your last 90 minutes or so of life having watched something ‘passable’?), with its multitudes of gore gags, amateurish acting (I mean, the male-female pair playing the detectives are beyond ridiculous) and 80’s-style pre-internet porn naughty bits (it was interesting to note the only places my daughter looked away from was the various booby shots – that’s ‘breast shots’ for any adults in the room – sprinkled liberally throughout the film), there is a dark edge — an underlying and undeniable misanthropic perversity – to the aforementioned director Lewis’ film Blood Feast (and apparently his entire oeuvre of revered gore films of which most I still need to catch up on) that is nowhere to be found in “Diner”… and perhaps is a good indication of why Lewis’ films, which are equally as amateurish in many ways, still have one box tin set after another put out for eager consumer fans to gobble up, while Blood Diner languishes in relative obscurity (with dubious claims of ‘cult status’). Let it be a lesson. Even the silliest, lowest-common-denominator material has to have some resonance… or it will mostly disappear from the memory banks (with perhaps only those about to be hit by a bus regretting it was the last thing they sat through).
One enjoyable benefit of taking my 13 year old daughter was giving her a chance to catch a glimpse of, and to process, some bad taste cinema. While it certainly is far from the best example — it’s quite innocent from today’s perspective, in fact (it’s no John Waters film, that’s for sure, a director whose hilarious and often deliberately hideous confrontational images and characters remain a challenge even today to not only straight culture but still to today’s equally conforming, consumerist and way-too-uptight queer culture) – it at least comes from an anti-social and non-conforming mindset that any parent whose goal isn’t only to raise a non-questioning consumer drone who ‘fits in’ can appreciate.
I also happened to notice that the oddball Kong (a female director, no less — always nice to hear a woman happily mucking about in these sullied cinematic waters) has a few other exploitation efforts under her belt, including a 1983 radiation monster amuck film called The Being (with an obviously slumming Martin Landau, José Ferrer and Ruth Buzzi, no less!) and a 1993 high school sex comedy The Underachievers (also with some name actor folk) and, seeing they’re all available for streaming, for better or worse, despite the lesson I mentioned earlier… I’m intrigued enough that I’ll probably check them out at some point… so while I can blame my interest as perhaps something related to my completist nature, the truth may be close to the fact that even the silliest of low rent exploitation film reaches my heart more than I admit.