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July 4, 2011

Herschell Gordon Lewis, accountant of splatter and gore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hotcha @ 11:35 am

The baddest, the bloodiest splatter’n’gore movies are often made by unglamorous accountant types, me seems. What does an accountant type look like, you probably immediately ask yourself, dear cliché-hating reader. Thanks for asking, proves we both are intelligent people. Accountant types look like splatter’n’gore filmmakers.

Herschell Gordon Lewis

Like Herschell Gordon Lewis. He’s the creator of the gore film, it is said. I just hope he does not read this here, because this could be the case, he being at the NIFFF in Neuchâtel at the moment, an 80 year old monsieur, which has been parked by his still actif wife in the festival center while she does the weekly shopping, that’s what he looks like. I just passed by him, he was sitting there, waiting to be picked up again, I could have easily slit his throat or chewed off one of his fingers, nobody would have seen it, nobody would have noticed a thing, he was there all alone. I could have acted like Fuad Ramses, the bloody caterer from Blood Feast, the first Splatter’n’Gore movie, made in 1963 by Lewis. Ramses goes much further than slitting throats or chewing fingers, though, he does not hesitate to cut out the tongue of a blonde bombshell, of course she’s still alive while he’s at it

Later that day Lewis will present his movie to a young crowd of a enthusiastic public, where he tells them that he made this film for commercial reasons. Well, that’s a reason I do like, chapeau. Searching for a kind of a movie that has never been made before, that will make it into the cinemas and will motivate people to shove out their dollar. And to make the movie the cheapest way possible. Not the worst set of ideas to create a great and lasting artwork. So he invented gore. And he was a successful accountant, too. Wrote the music himself, for instance, because he obviously hates to pay people to do things he can do himself, maybe even better. He also did this for his second movie, 2000 Maniacs, where he even wrote the catchy and cheasy hillbilly title track. It’s catchy, proof: He sings it that day with his public, “Hee-Haaa” – a great entertainer, the man, who without problem can pretend he does this here for the first time, because we are such a wonderful public. Of course he must have done that a dozen times….

2000 Maniacs is his favorite HGL movie, according to his words. Why are so few people here? For Blood Feast he had a full house. But as he says himself, 2000 Maniacs is not easy to understand for a european public, treating a very US theme, the civil war of the 19th century. The dialogs are sometimes hard to understand, the recording quality is just too poor. But for me, of course, this is a sign of quality, because the first take is always the best, just leave it at that, the next ones can only get cleaner, that’s all.

Blood Feast

So let’s get back to Blood Feast. The first splatter’n’gore movie. The first in a billion dollar business. And a very good movie, absolutely. Those trashy colors, plenty of green orange red, the wooden dialogues, this fantastic non-acting which is so difficult to obtain, the special effects that come directly from the second hand shop. Just look at the egypt goddess, a shop window dummy with painted-on gold, 2 meters of velvet, all in all about 80 $ worth of material.

You can appreciate this movie from so many different angles. First of all, it’s pure esthetic pleasure: the camera, the cheesy fake egyptian death march music, it’s a rock video, many bands would be proud to have such a thing on Youtube. Never forget, Lewis is not a musician, he just hates to spend money and wants to cut costs wherever he can!

Then you have those fantastic dialogues: the desperate housewive, who wants to have a very special party for her daugter, who is a totally underexposed blonde – she uses the same spray-on tan as Shawne Fielding, by the way… At the end, she even lays herself under the demonic egyptian’s knife, to not spoil his fun! But first on my list are the two FBI agents in their brownish office, plastic tree in the corner, chewing on a pipe, not ashamed to show that they do not have a clue – and when they find the one piece this mosaic is made of, they can go on and on about how clever and intelligent they sherlockholmed this case.

Hello David Lynch

You can become addicted to this kind of storytelling. There’s a whole crowd of filmmakers who created a complete work on Lewis’ invention. Hello David Lynch! I do not know all of HGL’s movies yet, but I presume, it’s like with all trash: First try is the best. I could be wrong, and anyway, it doesn’t matter. What I can say, is that I’ve underestimated Lewis’ work until now, which is completely my fault, I could have watched them all on the net for free. Let me recommend you to buy them all, you’ll get a better screen resolution and a better sound where the music is concerned (I do not talk about the dialogs…). And show them at your next party, with a beamer, on a big stereo.

The Vicious Brothers

When I’ve started this post here, I planned to write about the Vicious Brothers and their movie Grave Encounters. It’s a surprising ghost story treating a very swiss theme, I do not know if this was planned as such. Maybe I’ll write about it tomorrow. Do not miss this movie, it will be screened one more time at the NIFFF in Neuchâtel, July 5 2011, 17:00 at the Apollo One.

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