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.
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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.”