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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Bad Movies  |  Herschell Gordon Lewis: THE KING OF GORE! « previous next »
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Author Topic: Herschell Gordon Lewis: THE KING OF GORE!  (Read 3853 times)
Chris K.
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« on: February 19, 2001, 04:49:17 PM »

I haven't been visiting Badmovies.org lately due to my buisy schedule. But now that I have some free time on my hands, I would like to talk about Herschell Gordon Lewis. We all know him as "The Godfather of Gore" ever since he made BLOOD FEAST (1963) and when he continued the gore films up to his retirement in 1972. But do you think he really started the idea of blood and guts in film?

In my opinion, I feel that he did start the trend. As film history tells us, showing blood and guts or a persons dismembered leg in film was not acceptable at the the time. But when 1963 rolled in, H.G. Lewis and his producer David F. Friedman created film history by inventing the first blood and guts/slasher film BLOOD FEAST. And BLOOD FEAST was a huge success too.

Basically, if anyone says that Lucio Fulci or Wes Craven invented the idea you can tell them that they are dead wrong. H.G. Lewis was responsible for the first gore film and he influnced many directors like Andy Milligan, George A. Romero, Dario Argento, Wes Craven, Lucio Fulci, Tobe Hooper, and others. Without BLOOD FEAST, their would be no SCREAM trillogy or no TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Lewis was the creator.

Today, Lewis believes he made some really crappy films (his nudie-cutie films are the ones he does not talk about) and he believes he has made some real landmark films (BLOOD FEAST, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!, COLOR ME BLOOD RED, SOMETHING WEIRD, etc.). But you cannot put down his films or their style. They are pure examples of what a film could be if you have a small budget.

And I will add that the gore in his films are still graphicaly violent to this very day. Nobody could do better. And it is true that Lewis is "The Godfather of Gore".

Questions, comments, or opinions anyone?
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Stupid Jacob
Guest
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2001, 08:53:54 PM »

I got nuthin' to say about the subject, but check out this article about him.
http://www.x-entertainment.com/messages/491.html
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Abby
Guest
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2001, 11:25:52 PM »

FYI: Pat Patterson was responsible for most of the gore work in the bloodier HGL flicks (Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, and I think Wizard). He also worked on Girdler's "Three on a Meathook." He was known as "The Blood Man." He used a mixture that involved mortician's wax. His gore led to him becoming somewhat famous ... famous enough to crank out a TERRIBLE movie of his own titled The Body Shop in 1973-74. He hailed from North Carolina.

Patterson died right around the time HGL stopped making gore movies. When Body Shop was finally released (in the 80's) HGL offered a video introduction. And aside from seeing William Girdler's name in the final credits, it's probably the only watchable portion of the film.
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Chadzilla
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2001, 10:53:21 PM »

It can also be argued that Lewis would never have attempted his gore films if it had not been for Hammer films The Curse of Frankenstein (1958) and other quaintly bloody delights, which appeared in the cinema scene some five years previous to Blood Feast (1963).

It can also be argued that none of these films would have been made if it had not been for the French theater's Grand Guignol (explicitly violent stage dramas that arose in the late 1800s).

So it goes.

I have only seen four of Lewis's movies...Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, Gruesome Twosome, and The Wizard of Gore, so my opinions of his talent (or lack of, depending upon which side of the cinematic fence you are sitting on) are somewhat limited.  The only one I would consider adding to my library is 2000 Maniacs and the only one of his movies that I have yet to see that I am interested in tracking down is She Devils on Wheels.  I don't consider all of his movies landmarks in and of themselves, just points of interest on the diverse cinematic highway.  Blood Feast, even though it isn't very good, is the first of its kind and does deserve a certain place in film history books.

As far as the contemporary (circa late seventies and early eighties) goes the slasher film usually claimed to be derived from the popular and graphically violent giallo film of Mario Bava and Dario Argento, et al.  Craven sited Bergman's The Virgin Spring as his inspiration for The Last House on the Left and Friday the 13th (and it's first sequel) are considered illegimate remakes of Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (aka Carnage, Bay of Blood, and, ironically, Last House on the Left Part 2!).  How much of an influence Lewis had is questionable, that he showed there was a healthy market for this material is obvious.

I think the thing that keeps me from embracing Lewis entirely is the shoddy level of production work in his movies (the visible plastic protective sheets on props, etc).  He was capable of doing polished work (i.e. the aforementioned 2000 Maniacs) but oft times he kept the look of his movies sloppy.  Some argue that this was because he had no real cinematic talent, others claim this was done to inject an aura of humor and/or self-parody.  I agree with the self-parody line of thought.  But I also agree with the opinions put forth by John McCarty in his seminal study Splatter Movies, that Lewis also would do anything to make a buck and just did not care about the overall quality of some of his movies (i.e. Moonshine Mountain, etc).
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Paul Westbrook
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2001, 01:13:11 PM »

Absolutely. Herchell Gordon Lewis, is the true pioneer inovator of gore splatter films. My favorite, was 2000 Maniacs, as it tells quite a unique story. Another fave, was Wizard of Gore. You have excellent taste in your horror flicks. H.G. Lewis RULES.
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Chadzilla
Guest
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2001, 01:47:10 PM »

2000 Maniacs also has a really boss title song (there was a soundtrack released, I believe from Rhino Records, that I have always regretted not getting, damn me to hell!).  When a friend and I watched this movie on an all night video binge (sandwiched between Friday the 13th Part 3 and Humongous, ugh what pain) we were singing "The South's Gonna Rise Again" for months afterward.  Hell I still sing it today.

"Robert E. Lee broke a musket on his knee..."
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Chadzilla
Guest
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2001, 02:26:18 PM »

THE Nipsey Russell, yes THAT Nipsey Russell gives a five star rating for 2000 Maniacs over at Amazon.com...he says "A very gory and funny movie about the great south and it's very friendly folks."  He also encourages everyone to go out and buy a copy.  I think I shall.  :-)

"The South's Gonna Rise Again, YEE-HAA
the south's gonna rise again..."
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Chris K.
Guest
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2001, 05:09:13 PM »

The theory of how Herschell Gordon Lewis' films look sloppy due to "lack of talent" is not really true. If anybody has ever seen Lewis' LIVING VENUS (1960), that film is incredibly realistic with good acting and polished production values. Plus, LIVING VENUS featured a young Harvey Korman and would lenghten his carrer to other films including BLAZING SADDLES (1974). But getting back to the subject, BLOOD FEAST does look like a polished film with moderate acting (Ok, Connie Mason's acting in BLOOD FEAST was horrible. But if you really think about it, she was in Playboy so Lewis and his producer David F. Friedman really needed something to boost the film up to "high class").

But Lewis was talented. Plus the gore in his films is still convincing to this day. Even my own mother cannot stand the liver-pulled-out-of-the-stomach scene in THE GRUESOME TWOSOME. I don't think Wes Craven could have done better at all on these type of films. But also the camerawork (again, done by Lewis) is very good too. If it is one thing that I remember Lewis saying is that the camera is a "perfect piece of equipment". And boy, he sure knew how to use it!

As for the lack of budget in his films, again it just shows that if you use the time and money efficiantly then you can make a good film on a low budget. Think of Peter Jackson's BAD TASTE and the budget of $250,000 that he had? And that made the film look even better!

As for his film MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN being made for a buck, well that could have been possible. But, the film was good and it was intended as a comedy with a dash of TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! added in for flavor.
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