The Blood Trilogy (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!, Color Me Blood Red)
by Jason Coffman
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Something Weird Video jumps into the Blu-ray arena with both feet on Tuesday, September 27th with its first two releases: Basket Case and The Blood Trilogy! The Blood Trilogy Blu-ray is an amazing treasure trove for fans of H.G. Lewis and David Friedman’s seminal gore films, collecting Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs! and Color Me Blood Red all on one disc along with a plethora of bonus features. And, of course, each film has been remastered in HD, so all that blood really pops off the screen!
Blood Feast (1963) is an indisputable classic of horror and exploitation cinema. Lewis and Friedman, looking for a new market to tap, decided to try to make a film packed with explicit, vividly depicted violence and gore. The result was a groundbreaking hit that guaranteed them a spot in cinema history for better or worse. Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold), a limping villain who worships the Egyptian goddess Ishtar and plans to carry out a ceremony that will return her to Earth to rule over mankind. Naturally, the rite requires different body parts from various beautiful young women, and before Ramses can be stopped he has already murdered an impressive percentage of his town’s young, single ladies. The film’s unprecedented level of gruesome violence fulfilled the ad campaign’s promise: “Nothing so appalling in the annals of horror!”
After the huge success of Blood Feast, Friedman and Lewis teamed up once again for Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964). A twisted take on Brigadoon, the film takes place in the isolated town of Pleasant Valley, site of one of the bloodiest massacres of the Civil War. Every 100 years, the town reappears to take revenge on any unsuspecting Yankees who happen to make their way into town and serve them up at the town barbecue. Much more ambitious and intentionally humorous than Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs! has the look and tone of a perverse live-action Disney film with its friendly, polite Southerners murdering their honored guests in a series of increasingly unpleasant ways.
The final film of the Friedman and Lewis partnership is 1965’s Color Me Blood Red. A sort of Technicolor take on Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, Color Me Blood Red is the story of commercially successful but critically unpopular artist Adam Sorg (Don Joseph). Sorg is frustrated at his lack of critical acclaim, but happens upon a way to make his paintings really stand out: painting with human blood! While obviously satirical, Color Me Blood Red is a bit more serious in tone than the previous two films.
Remastered for this new Blu-ray release, all three films look stunning. Two Thousand Maniacs! in particular benefits from the HD remaster, with its bright palette and bigger scale compared to the other films. In addition to all three films, the disc features full-length commentary tracks (with Mike Vraney, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and David Friedman on Blood Feast, all three joined by Jimmy Maslon on the other two commentaries), over 75 minutes of outtakes from all three films, original theatrical trailers for the films, a vintage short called “Carving Magic” starring Harvey Korman and Bill Kerwin, a gallery of advertising art for the Blood Trilogy films, and a bizarre 1964 gore short called Follow That Skirt!
Even if you have the DVD versions of these films, this new single-disc release is well worth the upgrade. If this is what we have to look forward to from Something Weird on Blu-ray, fans of weirdo exploitation cinema are in for a treat!
Something Weird Video and Image Entertainment release The Blood Trilogy on Blu-ray 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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