Herschell Gordon Lewis [Interview]
July 11, 2014 Leave a comment
And off we go again here at Trainwreck’d Society with another round with the world of horror. But this time, we have something exceptionally wonderful for you fine readers. True admirers of the world of horror should know exactly what I mean when you catch the name of who we are honored enough to have featured in our digital pages today.
Back in 1963 a little film called Blood Feast was released that truly shook the world. Horror films had ben existence for decades before, but not quite like this. The pure shock value of this film would lead independent filmmaker Herschel Gordon Lewis to be deemed “The Godfather of Gore”, a nickname he truly deserves as set forth with other great films like Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red. Whether through splatter horror films or sexplotation romps, Herschel Gordon Lewis has had a long and historical career of creating films that simply entertain. Nothing more, nothing less. Just good old fashion sex, violence, and hilarity. And what more do we really need, sometimes? Mr. Lewis took a bit of a hiatus from the film world, but returned in 2002 to direct the anticipated sequel to Blood Feast, and actually has a grand new project that is beginning production this summer entitled BloodMania, an anthology consisting of four parts. One segment was co-written by HGB, and he is slated to direct two of them. It is so exciting to see The Godfather back in his element, and this damn project has success written all over it. Learn more HERE!
After such a long hiatus, how did it feel in 2002 when you got back into the director’s chair to make the sequel to Blood Feast you had always wanted to do? Did it feel natural or nerve-racking?
I had phantom-directed just about every film I viewed during that hiatus. The mind-set was ready and natural.
What do you believe it is about the exploitation genre that continues to have a large cult following among film buffs? What makes them different from more mainstream films from the 60’s and 70’s, and even beyond?
Exploitation films grab attention, roughly and mercilessly, to the action rather than to the actors. Viewers feel they’re in a back-alley, sharing a primitive creative experience.
What sorts of things were going through your head when you decided to release Living Venus, which was extremely risqué for its time. Where you ever nervous about how the public was going to take it? Where you targeting an audience at all?
I had determined that for a production whose values couldn’t compete with polish, we could compete by showing a limited number of brave theatergoers the kind of visual experience in which they could envision themselves being immersed. That formula still exists.
Blood Feast has been criticized for every facet of production from lack of acting talent to shoddy camera work. But no other film can match its place in motion picture history: it was the first of its kind. Those who see it today sometimes say what they don’t say after viewing a hundred-million-dollar product: they got their money’s worth.
If you were given $5 million dollars in 60’s to make a film, do you think you would have gone a different route with your work?
You bet I would. But I wouldn’t be regarded as a pioneer.
In your personal opinion, what is an “independent film”? And do you think there is any hope in revitalizing a fearfully dead way of making films?
An independent film is produced outside the sacred gates guarded by Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild and controlled distribution. Regrettably, since fewer and fewer theatres will book this type of product, the independent has to compete in the semi-closed world of DVDs. That means aping what the major companies do.
If you were to attempt to modernize any of your films from the past, which would you like to see done? Furthermore would you even really want to do so?
I’d rather move forward. I have scripts that haven’t been produced yet, so why should I remake movies whose history is firm enough to resist re-making?
Production is light-years easier. Distribution is light-years more difficult.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Opening a package of Gummi-Bears.