Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore
by Jason Coffman
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September 27th is a great day for fans of Herschell Gordon Lewis: Something Weird and Image are releasing both The Blood Trilogy Blu-ray and their long-awaited documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore. While The Blood Trilogy is a total no-brainer for fans of Lewis and for those who like to archive classic horror films, The Godfather of Gore has only been seen by those lucky enough to catch it at festival screenings. Promising a comprehensive look at Lewis’s career in film and directed by Frank Henenlotter and Jimmy Maslon, it is a serious understatement to say that expectations have been running high.
Luckily for us, The Godfather of Gore delivers. Covering everything from Lewis’s beginnings in industrial and commercial films through to the present day, The Godfather of Gore is packed with footage from a huge number of his films and entertaining interviews with Lewis, David F. Friedman (R.I.P.), John Waters, Joe Bob Briggs, and a number of actors and other people who worked on the films. The interview segments with Lewis and Friedman are easily the best reason to check this out: both of them are old-fashioned, first-rate raconteurs, and it’s a pleasure hearing them tell their stories.
The first part of the film covers Lewis and Friedman teaming up to capitalize on the “nudie cutie” and nudist films before creating the legendary Blood Feast. While a large part of the film is concerned with Blood Feast and Lewis’s other horror films, his other works are also featured, from “hicksploitation” epics like Moonshine Mountain to such oddities as Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In and The Magic Land of Mother Goose! If I have one minor nitpick regarding the overview of the Lewis filmography, it is the lack of much discussion of his film Scum of the Earth and the “roughie” subgenre it helped to create.
Lewis fans and anyone interested in the history of horror and exploitation films should find plenty to celebrate about in The Godfather of Gore. In addition, the DVD features over an hour of delete scenes, an H.G. Lewis trailer reel, a rare Lewis short (“Hot Night at the Go-Go Lounge”) and a gallery of advertising art. This is unquestionably a must-see for any die-hard film fan, whether you like Blood Feast or not!
Something Weird Video and Image Entertainment release Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore on DVD on 27 September 2011.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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