Saturday, October 1, 2016

Phil remembers Herschell Gordon Lewis, The Godfather of Gore - September 26, 2016

Herchell Gordon Lewis 1926-2016
For fans of horror and exploitation cinema, one name comes to mind: Herschell Gordon Lewis, known to many as "The Godfather of Gore." His films have become true cult classics and have influenced many of today's filmmakers like Eli Roth, John Waters, Quentin Tarantino and John Carpenter to name a few. I've been a huge fan of his films for decades and I was hoping to one meet me hero. So needless to say that it was such a shock to read this morning's headlines: HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS, "GODFATHER OF GORE," HAS DIED AT 90. As of right now, I am beyond sad. This is such a loss to fans, friends and to everybody else he touched. It's only fitting that I pay tribute to the man in today's blog post.

Herschell Gordon Lewis was born on June 15, 1926, in Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania. He started off teaching English and Humanities at Mississippi State, which he later moved into the advertisement business. When Lewis bought a half interest into a small, cheap movie studio in Chicago, he started Mid-Continent Films which produced two films: THE PRIMETIME and LIVING VENUS, which was his feature film debut as a director. It was during the making of THE PRIMETIME he met exploitation pioneer David F. Friedman, who helped Lewis distribute LIVING VENUS. With the release of Russ Meyers' THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS, the next film Lewis and Friedman made was the nudie cutie called THE ADVENTURES OF LUCKY PIERRE. After a couple of years making these nudie cuties and nudest camp films, Lewis came up with a completely different idea for a movie. A type of movie that the major movie studios wouldn't or couldn't make, but theater owners could make money at the boxoffice. Then in 1963, the film BLOOD FEAST was made and everything would never be the same again.

Original Theatrical Poster (1964)
With Friedman, Lewis created what has been called THE BLOOD TRILOGY which consisted of BLOOD FEAST, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS, and COLOR ME BLOOD RED. These films introduced that famous four-letter word now forever associated with horror: GORE. The world of horror would never look the same thanks to Lewis and Friedman. After the completion of THE BLOOD TRILOGY, Lewis parted ways with Friedman and began to make a plethora of films within the exploitation genre such as MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN, JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT, SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS, and SOMETHING WEIRD. Soon he returned to the horror genre with A TASTE OF BLOOD, THE WIZARD OF GORE, THE GRUESOME TWOSOME, and THE GORE GORE GIRLS, which was his swan song. After that film's release, he became one of the leaders in the field of Direct Marketing advertising but Lewis would return to the director's chair with the 2002 sequel BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL YOU CAN EAT and again with the UH-OH SHOW in 2009. The later would be the final film that he would make.

Original Theatrical Poster (1968)
Over the years Lewis's films gained a huge cult following thanks to midnight screening, late-night television showings and especially when his films were released by Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video (which was named after Lewis's 1968 film). Thanks to Friedman who introduced Lewis to Vraney, the two began releasing a majority of his films on VHS, then on special edition DVDs and DVD-Rs. In 2012, Something Weird Video released THE BLOOD TRILOGY on Blu-Ray as well as THE WIZARD OF GORE/THE GORE GORE GIRLS double featureNewcomer Vinegar Syndrome released THE LOST FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS on Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack. It included three films that were thought to be lost: ECSTACIES OF WOMEN (1969), LINDA AND ABILENE (1970) and BLACK LOVE (1971). 

Lewis has also appeared in several documentaries, such as SCHLOCK! THE SECRET HISTORY OF AMERICAN MOVIES, AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE and was the subject of Something Weird Video's HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE
It's hard to imagine what the landscape of horror and exploitation without the many contributions from Herschell Gordon Lewis. What he did and accomplished is immeasurable. Films Like FRIDAY THE 13th, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, HOSTEL, EVIL DEAD, SAW and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE would not look the same with BLOOD FEAST or THE WIZARD OF GORE coming before. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. Thank you for all the great memories Mr. Lewis!! We will never forget you!!

To purchase any of Herschell Gordon Lewis's films on DVD, visit the Something Weird Video website at Also visit Vinegar Syndrome at Plus don't forget to visit his website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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