HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE (2010 US) D: FRANK HENENLOTTER D/P: JIMMY MASLON
Lewis himself is interviewed throughout this career retrospective documentary from Something Weird (Mike Vraney was an Executive Producer). From the early days of THE PRIME TIME and LIVING VENUS, through meeting David F. Friedman and churning out nudie cuties (like THE ADVENTURES OF LUCKY PIERRE) and the notorious gore trilogy (BLOOD FEAST, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!, COLOR ME BLOOD RED), continuing with exploitation of all stripes (i.e. BLAST-OFF GIRLS (1967) with Colonel Sanders, SOMETHING WEIRD, SHE DEVILS ON WHEELS, A TASTE OF BLOOD, JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT etc.), and the other gore trilogy, THE GRUSEOME TWOSOME, THE WIZARD OF GORE (1970) and THE GORE GORE GIRLS (1972). All the clips (including trailers) are great (some non-Lewis movies seen are SHE FREAK (1967), NUDE ON THE MOON (1960), GARDEN OF EDEN (1954), THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS (1959), FLESH FEAST and 1938'S THE WAGES OF SIN with stripper Rose La Rose), and interviewees (including John Waters, Henenlotter, Joe Bob Briggs, Friedman, Bunny Yeager, Mal Arnold, Jerome Eden, Ray Sager, the late Dan Krogh) tell funny stories, but as a whole it falls between two stools. For the already initiated (who will find it quite fun, don't get me wrong) there isn't much in the way of anecdotes or insights that haven't been covered extensively elsewhere (for example, Christopher Wayne Curry's 1999 book A Taste Of Blood: The Films Of Herschell Gordon Lewis, still the definitive text for fans I think). And those unfamiliar with Lewis are unlikely to understand what all the fuss is about I feel. It seems churlish to be too negative about a loving documentary about a man who truly deserves one, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. Connie Mason, Bill Kerwin (seen in clips from the 1961 educational short CARVING MAGIC!) and Allison Louise Down are discussed at length. The best section (for me) shows edited together footage of the uncompleted EYE FOR AN EYE (1966) (fans may also appreciate the brief glimpses of behind-the-scenes footage from several titles). I was surprised SCUM OF THE EARTH wasn't mentioned (especially since THE MAGIC LAND OF MOTHER GOOSE (1967) gets screen time!), but the DVD includes over an hour of extra material that just about covers everything Lewis has done (bar the 2009 flick THE UH-OH SHOW). Henenlotter of course dedicated BASKET CASE to Lewis way back in the day.

Another decent book on HGL

 

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