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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Herschell Gordon Lewis:The Godfather of Gore (2010) - Documentary

Part of Terrorthon 10 at the Somerville Theater in Somerville MA
Herschell Gordon Lewis:The Godfather of Gore (2010) - In the late 50's and early 60's Herschell Gordon Lewis was a small time movie maker creating nudist movies in South Miami. There was a lot of censorship in those days so a way around it to show naked people was to do educational films on nudist colonies. Lewis was making a bit of money but not much doing just that.
In 1963 he was looking for a new vehicle to cash in on and with longtime assistant Allison (Bunny) Downe came up with the script for Blood Feast. In it a killer steals body parts from his victims all young women to perform a ritual feast that will bring the Goddess Ishtar back to life. In it was were lots of gruesomely real scenes of mangled bodies, possibly the first gore scenes on film. Shot in four days in South Miami for about twenty thousand dollars it was a surprise success. Included in the movie going experience was a gimmick of handing out vomit bags to the audience which went over well at the time. Went over well does not mean it was liked by critics, although it made a bit of money for Lewis and friends the film was panned by the critics of the time for being crude and unprofessional. There is a story told in the film by a critic who was approached by the manager of a Majestic LA theater and apologized that the film was shown in his theater.
This documentary is a loving look at a small time film maker and how he created a genre of film that would later influence many film makers in the horror genre. In the film we talk to Lewis, and long time collaborators and actors in many of his films.
We take a trip with H.G. Lewis back to St. Cloud FL. the site of his 1964 film 2000 Maniacs and here stories of what it was like to make the film about a small redneck town that wants to get revenge for the outcome of the civil war.
Covering many of his films with style, H.G. Lewis spins tales about a time in movie making long past. Some of the films covered include
Color me Blood Red (1965) - In which an artist uses blood instead of red paint for his art.
A Taste of Blood (1967) - Where a descendant of Dracula becomes a vampire and goes after the family line of his executioners.
Flesh Feast (1970) - A ring of Florida Nazis have possession of Hitler's body and want to bring him back to life. Starring the wonderful Veronica Lake
Many more films were included, directors Frank Henenlotter and Jimmy Maslon show the respect and love they have for Lewis and the appreciation they feel for his contributions to film. There are guest appearances from Joe Bob Briggs and John Waters to add weight to the appreciation of Lewis. By the end of the documentary the view has had an interesting and loving description, a history lesson about a small part of film making that changed what was seen on screen. We also have a picture of a man trying to make a few bucks who had no idea what the impact would be but should be appreciated anyway.
Rating (6.4) 5.0 and up are recommended, On the Zombiegrrlz scale I say Rent it!

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