9/28/2016

In Memory of The Godfather of Gore: H.G. Lewis (1926-2016)

I was extremely heartbroken yesterday, when I read of the passing of the man rightfully credited with starting and creating the splatter film, the Godfather of Gore, himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis AKA H.G. Lewis). He was a true legend of the genre and one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of the horror film.
 
Color Me Blood- Red
H.G. Lewis was born on June 15, 1926 in Pittsburgh. Though his career started with softcore films (which he continued to make for a good chunk of his career), it's his splatter movies that he is most connected with. His first gore film was the legendary Blood Feast. While, horror movies before this either completely lacked graphic violence or only flirted lightly with it (Hammer Studios comes to mind in that department), Blood Feast was extremely graphic and bloody. That the FX were crude and fake didn't matter. Nothing had been seen up and until that point of time like it. As result it was an instant hit at the box office, and would go on to become a cult classic (as many of his other films would).
I knew about his movies for ages, being a well read horror fan and all. But, I wouldn't see any of his movies until I bought the The Blood Trilogy DVD box-set from Image many years back. This was composed of the first three movies he made, the aforementioned Blood Feast, Two-Thousand Maniacs, and Color Me Blood Red. I loved the whole cheesy and it's so bad so good aspect of these films. Pretty girls, bad dialogue, bad acting, and graphic but terribly fake splatter. I can't recommend these movies enough to any lovers of horror and gore, especially those who like their movies to be fun and bloody.
Though of these three, I would say Two-Thousand Maniacs is my favorite. Even if it does not come anywhere close of giving you that many maniacs, it is a fun, wild, bloody, and funny tale of a bunch of crazy, killer hicks bent on having the South rise again.
 
Sadly, I haven't seen as much of his work I should, with the only other two I saw being Wizard of Gore and The Gore-Gore Girls when I bought the double feature, and excellent, I must add, Blu-ray of them. I plan to revisit the highly enjoyable, wild, and over-the-top Wizard soon. Last night I revisited The Gore-Gore Girls (1972)in his honor. It is my favorite of his, and his last movie for many, many, many years to come until he made Blood Feast 2 (2002).
The Gore-Gore Girls
 
One thing that stands true is despite the bloody content his movies were always tongue and cheek (and the tongue ripped out!). They never felt mean-spirited or took themselves too seriously as a result were many times hilarious, both intentionally and not.


The Wizard of Gore
 
I loved his role in the thoroughly awesome love letter to him Smash Cut starring The Last House on the Left's David Hess and former porn goddess Sasha Grey. I also absolutely ADORE the excellent documentary made about him and his movies, Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore. You all need to do yourselves a favor and seek it out. You will be glad that you did.
I saw him at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors many years ago, but didn't get to meet him until, last year at Chiller. I feel so lucky that I did. He was such a sweet and funny man.
The gore and horror world has lost a legend, but he will live on in our bloody hearts and in his blood drenched movies. All hail the Godfather of Gore! All hail H.G. Lewis! And, may he RIP, as my condolences go to his family and loved ones.

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