Love your gory horror films? Well, you have one person to thank for that: Herschell Gordon Lewis, the original “Godfather of Gore,” who turns 87 today. So a big happy birthday to him!
In 1963, Lewis, along with producer David F. Friedman, unleashed Blood Feast, the first entry in the now-termed “splatter” sub-genre. While crude and hokey by today’s standards, Blood Feast proved influential: not only did numerous filmmakers release their own efforts overflowing with the red stuff, but the film heralded in a new era for horror. While Lewis has produced numerous gore films, he is most known for the “Blood Trilogy,” a loose trifecta of gore comprised of Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs! and Color Me Blood Red. All three are necessary viewing for anyone interested in the history of horror and/or the “splatter” sub-genre. It is these three films that we’ll take a brief look at today.
Blood Feast (1963)
The film that started it all. The owner of a catering service also happens to be a cold-blooded killer who is killing young women and taking their body parts to secure the return of the Egyptian goddess, Ishtar. The film is hokey and crude as all hell, definitely something that would be laughed right off the screen nowadays. But there is no denying the film’s influence. Required viewing for any and all aspiring filmmakers or those interested in the history of horror. For more information on Blood Feast, you can read our editorial here.
Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
After the success of Blood Feast, Lewis and Friedman teamed up once more to up the ante. This film follows four Northern tourists who stumble upon a Confederate town in the midst of their centennial celebration. The townsfolk, however, just happen to be crazed psychopaths to begin killing the tourists one by one. This is, by far, the most polished of the three films. It was remade in 2005 as 2001 Maniacs. Both are definitely worth checking out.
Color Me Blood Red (1965)
The final film in the “Blood Trilogy” is also the weakest. A crazed painter discovers that human blood – specifically, blood from young ladies – is just the color he needs to enhance his paintings. While it isn’t lacking in the red stuff, the whole production feels tired and apathetic. Lewis planned a forth entry in the series called Suburban Roulette, but he’d felt the market for gore films had become over-saturated. This film also marked the final time Friedman and Lewis would work together.
All three films are necessary viewing and certain to bring joy to those who indulge in them. While Lewis made many more gore films, such as The Wizard of Gore and The Gore Gore Girls, it is the “Blood Trilogy” for which he’ll be remembered.