David Friedman, ‘Blood Feast’ producer, dies

His 1963 gore film prefigured horror pics of '70s

David F. Friedman, producer of B movies of the 1960s and ’70s including the cult classic “Blood Feast,” died of heart failure in Anniston, Ala., on Feb. 14. He was 87.

“Blood Feast,” directed by Friedman’s frequent collaborator, Herschell Gordon Lewis, depicted the dismemberment of attractive women, and the 1963 film is considered one of the first gore movies.

Costing just $24,500 to make, the film netted a $6.5 million profit, Friedman’s niece, Bridgett Everett, told the AP.

Pic, about an Egyptian caterer who murders people so he can use their body parts in his meals and perform sacrifices to a goddess, became immediately notorious for its blood and violence. The deranged murderer at its center, played by Mal Arnold, prefigured similar characters in “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween.”

Friedman was born in Birmingham, Ala. He initially worked with carnivals, then became a press agent at Paramount, exiting in 1958 to take a stab at independent pics.

Popular on Variety

His B movie “Goldilocks and the Three Bares” was shot in a nudist colony; other films, including “The Adult Version of Jekyll and Hide” and “The Defilers,” combined sexuality with horror and crime.

Friedman films “Two Thousand Maniacs!” and “Color Me Blood Red” completed the so-called “Blood Trilogy” that began with After “Blood Feast”; thereafter he moved away from such explicitly gory fare as other producers were moving into this arena and he was worried about saturating the market.

Friedman was involved in every aspect of marketing his movies, even writing lines for the always titillating posters.

In 1991, Mike Vraney, owner of Something Weird Video in Seattle, tracked Friedman down and began reissuing his films. The pics found new markets, and he was invited to speak at film festivals, where he delighted audiences with his promoter-style personality.

“He was bigger than life,” Vraney said. “He could drink like a fish and he smoked giant cigars.”

More Film

  • Liev Schreiber Broadway

    Film News Roundup: Liev Schreiber Joins Will Smith's Tennis Drama 'King Richard'

    In today’s film news roundup, Liev Schreiber and retired pro footballer Vernon Davis score roles, Jason Blum will speak at his alma mater, Irish drama “Rialto” finds a U.S. distributor and “1917” hits a box office milestone. CASTINGS Liev Schreiber will portray tennis coach Paul Cohen in Warner Bros.’ “King Richard” opposite Will Smith. Reinaldo [...]

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Reports Mixed Fourth-Quarter Results

    AMC Entertainment has reported mixed fourth-quarter results, which saw revenues rise 2.4% to $1.45 billion, despite a 4.4% drop in U.S. attendance to 62.3 million. The exhibitor, owned by Dalian Wanda Group, announced a fourth-quarter loss of $13.5 million, compared to a year-earlier profit of $170.6 million, due to $84.3 million of expense related to [...]

  • 'Straight Up' Review: James Sweeney's Gay

    'Straight Up': Film Review

    There’s a tradition in movies, as vital as a hypnotic action scene or a swooning love scene, of dialogue so witty and nimble and rapid-fire that it comes at you like something out of a stylized dream. I first encountered that brand of high-velocity verbal jousting in “A Hard Day’s Night,” and later on in [...]

  • Cahiers du Cinema

    French Film Magazine Cahiers du Cinema's Staff Quits Over New Ownership

    The future of iconic French film publication Cahiers du Cinéma is in question after the outlet’s entire staff quit in protest over the brand’s new ownership. The 15-member editorial staff has spoken out against a perceived conflict of interest posed by the Cahier’s owners — a group of bankers, tech entrepreneurs and film producers that [...]

  • John Singleton Victoria Mahoney Spike Lee

    In Honor of Black History Month, a Look at Black Directors Who Made History

    In 2019, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reported that 2018 was a historic year for black filmmakers, noting a “record high when it came to hiring black directors.” The report reflected a significant change, showing the push for diversity both behind and in front of the camera. Though the numbers are increasing, the report also [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content