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Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore

Thanks for the dismemberies!

Rod Lott September 20th, 2011

Released in conjunction with "The Blood Trilogy" Blu-ray from Something Weird Video and Image Entertainment is their companion DVD documentary, "Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore." Helmed by the great Frank Henenlotter ("Frankenhooker," "Basket Case"), the feature-length doc is longer than any one entry in that trilogy, which is comprised of "Blood Feast," "Two Thousand Maniacs!" and "Color Me Blood Red."


It's also about much more than the trilogy, following Lewis' entire career, from his start in nudie cuties (ripping off Russ Meyer with "The Adventures of Lucky Pierre") to those no-budget horror gross-outs that made him both a fortune and a reputation as a beloved trailblazer — an indie spirit whose influence can be felt in the majors. There's even a brief detour into his short-lived kiddie-matinee phase with "The Magic Land of Mother Goose" and (sadly glossed over here) "Jimmy, the Boy Wonder."

While the clips from his oeuvre are as outrageous as the comments from admirers John Waters and Joe Bob Briggs, the star of the show is the still-sharp Lewis, who's quite funny, smart and free of any ideas that are movies are anything other than sheer entertainment. Refreshingly, he's his own worst critic, saying his flicks weren't so much made as "excreted."

The big negative about "The Godfather of Gore" is that it ended well before I wanted it. Although it's at an hour and 46 minutes, it could use another 15, especially since it doesn't hit every Lewis work, ignoring (unless you watch the generous hour of deleted scenes) the Oklahoma-lensed "This Stuff'll Kill Ya!," not to mention his Oklahoma City days working at WKY.

On the plus side, it left me wanting to see a bunch of the man's work, especially "The Gruesome Twosome," "The Wizard of Gore" and the assuredly aptly titled "Something Weird." Do I smell another Blu-ray collection or two, Image and SWV? Please? —Rod Lott

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