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Unappetizing 'Feast' is tough to stomach

Of all the would-be directors who came through ``Project Greenlight," John Gulager was the most eccentric and most fun to watch.

The reality show that gave novice filmmakers the chance to make a feature chronicled Gulager's hassles over designing creatures, the shooting schedules, and his passionate attempts to cast his family in the lead roles.

The first two ``Project Greenlight" films got only brief local runs. ``Feast" isn't likely to do much better.

Screening in advance of its DVD release, the movie strands more than a dozen people in a sleazy bar -- and a family of hairy mutants clawing at the door.

As victims get picked off, screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton reference just about every horror movie of the past 30 years, especially the comparatively charming ``From Dusk Till Dawn."

The ``Evil Dead" movies also get a nod when a square-chinned guy busts in with a shotgun, Bruce Campbell-style , and alerts everyone that he's there to save them. Within seconds, he's the first one dispatched.

Gulager tries to turn genre conventions on their ears, but ultimately makes us long for them. Characters aren't developed in any organic way but introduced with subtitle s of stats, including nicknames and chances for survival.

The cast is made up of faces recognizable from television, though no one seems to be having a good time. For all the lobbying Gulager did to get his father, veteran TV actor Clu Gulager , to play the movie's grizzled bartender, he could have given the old guy more to do.

Ben Affleck , Matt Damon , and the others behind ``Project Greenlight" have said that the success of ``Feast" would mean a make-or-break situation for the moviemaking project. And while the democratic approach to filmmaking still sounds good in theory, some things are best left to professionals.

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