The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
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HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE (2011) ****

We lost Herschell Gordon Lewis last year and it was a terrible blow to the exploitation world. In Frank (Frankenhooker) Henenlotter’s documentary, you can see how truly funny and self-deprecating he was. What’s great about the film is that you can now see how that personality carried over to his films. He knew the movies he was making weren’t high art, but you can see his distinct vision in every single one of his pictures. Lewis made them for a certain type of audience and that audience definitely appreciated them.

I loved that nearly a half hour was spent on his nudie-cutie movies. This segment is quite interesting as it is here where his relationship with producer David F. Friedman is formed. Working as a two-man crew, they convinced several women to disrobe and talked their way into filming at various nudist camps in order to make their films.

The best part of course focuses on their infamous gore trilogy. A lot of time is spent on the making of Blood Feast and the scenes of Lewis and Friedman revisiting locations for 2000 Maniacs (many of which still look the same) is really cool. After Color Me Blood Red, they had a falling out, and the two went their separate ways. Lewis became a gun for hire making a bunch of varied films from horror (A Taste of Blood) and drug (Something Weird) films, to hillbilly (Moonshine Mountain) and biker (She-Devils on Wheels) movies. After a return to the gore genre with The Wizard of Gore and The Gore-Gore Girls, he retired and went into direct market sales.

I’m glad Lewis was alive long enough to film this. Henenlotter shows all sorts of love and appreciation for the man as this is about as spot-on of a tribute as one could hope for. Just hearing him sit around and tell stories about the making of the films would’ve been enough, but it’s the care and heart that went into the feature that really shines through. It was also cool seeing snippets of his unfinished film An Eye for an Eye too, along with several outtakes from a variety of his pictures. Although not all of his features are covered (I would’ve liked to have seen Lewis’ brief flirtation with hardcore porn discussed), this is an essential documentary that any exploitation movie fan worth their salt needs to see.

Tags: documentary, h, h.g. lewis
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