A gutsy legacy - Page 2

Filmmakers don't get more violently influential than Herschell Gordon Lewis

Have you ever had ... an Egyptian feast?: a new doc celebrates the career of the director of 1963's Blood Feast

Plenty more such followed, though Friedman eventually went off to L.A. to make his own sexier cheapies (such as 1968's Nude Django and Thar She Blows!, and 1971's The Big Snatch). Feast's immediate follow-up Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) was a comparatively elaborate horror comedy that remains Lewis' personal favorite. But when it failed to make more money despite improved production values, he learned his lesson and kept costs dirt cheap. By 1972's The Gore Gore Girls, even he realized he'd taken red paint and animal innards as far over-the-top as they could go, leaving the movie biz to become a highly successful guru of direct marketing. Until a rising tide of cult rediscovery finally prompted a larky return in 2002's Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, that is.

At nearly two hours, The Godfather of Gore covers a lot of ground, guided by an octogenarian subject who's still every inch the flamboyant salesman. Beyond the horror films, it touches on Lewis' forays into biker action (1968's incredible She-Devils on Wheels), juvenile delinquency (1968's Just for the Hell of It), hicksploitation (1972's Year of the Yahoo!) and even children's entertainment (1967's The Magic Land of Mother Goose).

Several other lesser-known 60s features are now considered lost, although it's too bad Godfather doesn't make room for such extant obscurities as Miss Nymphet's Zap-In (1970) and the great wife-swapping saga Suburban Roulette (1968), whose theme song promises "ring-a-dingin' with that swingin' set," while the trailer posits 1968 Illinois suburbia as "where the stakes are as high as the morality is low."

Also from this author

  • Con and on

    Thrilling, stylish Highsmith adaptation 'The Two Faces of January'

  • Cel mates

    Mill Valley Film Festival screens vintage and innovative animated features

  • Urban decay

    A family struggles to survive in crime drama 'Metro Manila'