Kiss the Ring: We show our gratitude to the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis-by Wes Allen

Kiss the Ring: We show our gratitude to the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis-by Wes Allen

hglI reckon, it’s a safe assumption that if you are visiting our website, then you’re already aware of H.G. Lewis.  He’s not only known as the Godfather of Gore, but has been heralded as a major influence on what was to be known as the “splatter film”.  After getting his start in exploitation with notorious producer David F. Friedman’s (Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS, Love Camp 7) nudie-cuties and juvenile delinquent films, the team sought another world of nastiness to exploit.  Hence, the “Blood Trilogy” was born.  Beginning with 1963’s “Blood Feast”, Lewis would hose his audiences down with blood, guts, and assault-like ad campaigns that would allow his films to go down in horror film history.

Whether it’s redneck ghost towns who kill for sport (2000 Maniacs), bad ass gangs of biker chicks (She-Devils on Wheels), or magicians who go for the most realistic of reveals for their acts (Wizard of Gore), Lewis’ cast of crazy characters have changed the face of horror and exploitation.  Consider this: How many inbred cannibal-esque movies have followed “2000 Maniacs”?  Would “Easy Rider” have been such a cult phenomenon if She-Devils hadn’t been there first?  And would Hannibal Lecter’s ass been so damn intriguing, were it not for Fuad Ramses’s lead?  My guess is not blood likely.

Over the past few years, he’s given the world a sequel to his original blood masterpiece with “Blood Feast 2”  and has seen folks remake some of his films.  He’s been listed as a personal favorite of people like John Waters and Crispin Hellion Glover, shown adoration by the (wretched) Diablo Cody in her film “Juno”…hell, The Gore Gore Girls is a band that’s named themselves after his movie!  The point is that the guy is a legend and a lot of us here at The Blood Sprayer worship the ground that man walks on.  His films rank among favorites for some of us and so to have him be willing to grant us an interview was more than cool.  As a kid, I would rent his movies and fall in love with the silliness of it all.  Absurd, over the top characters, lots and lots of bright red blood-all the things that make a movie great!  If it seems as though the questions are brief and a little more to the point than normal, it’s because they were written in that manner as a request from Mr. Lewis (what I’m saying, is that I’m fully aware how full of bull shit I am and that I have a tendency to blow my subjects via interview questions. But it’s my website, so fuck off!-Ed.) and we were glad to oblige.  He has a new flick on the way, and has been working with b-movie hot shot April Monique Burril (Chainsaw Sally) on the web series “The Chainsaw Sally Show” and is still at it. So, without further introduction, meet the Godfather of Gore.

BS:  Your movies literally, have inspired 2 generations, now, of filmmakers who like to bring the gore.  All those years back, how did you decide that this is what you were gonna do?  What propelled you to add so much blood and guts, considering it hadn’t been done really, up to that point?

HGL: This wasn’t a creative decision. It was a business decision: What genre of motion pictures might exist, that the major companies couldn’t or wouldn’t make … but some theaters might show and a niche-audience might attend. It was a lucky decision.

BS:  What a lot of folks reading this article will not know, is you aren’t just famous as the Godfather of Gore to the rest of the world.  Give us a brief explanation on what else you’re known for, career-wise.

HGL:  I have a considerable position in the world of direct marketing. I’ve written 31 books, hundreds of magazine articles; I’ve given speeches all over the world; I write copy for major clients. Until the Web exposed me, the two worlds didn’t collide.

BS:  One of my favorite parts of your films is the music.  It’s strange, atmospheric, and in a lot of cases, done by you.  Did you have a musical background prior to the films or did you do it out of necessity?  How did go about recording the music (yourself or in a studio setting)?

HGL: Yes, I had a nominal musical background. As a youngster I took violin lessons and for some years, kept my hand in the pot. Armed with a book on orchestration, I scored some of the films. Yes, we recorded in studios.

BS:  As time has gone on, watching a film such as the ones you’ve made as well as, other films from the grindhouse era, the audiences laugh and treat these films as, almost, comedy.  Yet when they were released, people were appalled and shocked.  Do you enjoy how the newer generations are viewing your films?  Do you like the idea that they’re laughing or do you think they miss the point?

uh-oh

HGL:  I revel in their understanding that these are satires. My new one, “The Uh-Oh Show,” is structured to emphasize that these are all tongue-in cheek … or, as some critics may think, dung-in-cheek.

BS:  So many people have professed their love for your work over the years.  John Waters is one person, specifically, that comes to mind.  He’s spoken knowingly on your films, including footage from them in (what I feel) is his homage to your work, Serial Mom,  and has even made a cameo in one of them (Blood Feast 2).  How long have you both known one another and what do you think of these filmmaker’s work who site you as an influence?  Are you a fan of their films?

HGL:  John Waters and I have known each other, literally, forever and have a mutual admiration that in my opinion, is one of the major benefits of being in the film industry. While John’s movies aren’t parallel to mine, the intention is in my opinion parallel to mine.

BS:  What is your favorite of your films and why is it your favorite?  Do you occasionally go back and watch some of them from time to time and are entertained or is it just part of your past and you keep moving forward?

2000 ManiacsHGL:  My personal favorite is “Two Thousand Maniacs,” which plays well even after nearly half a century. I may change my opinion once “The Uh-Oh Show” hits the marketplace, because this one has production values I couldn’t have attempted all those years ago.

BS:  While a lot of the films from those earlier eras have disappeared, your films have always been available somewhere.  I think they got their best treatment when Something Weird Video gave them the boxset release.  How did you come to hooking up with SWV?  Did you always have prints of your films/did you own them?

HGL:  I had lost touch with my films. A wonderful guy named Jimmy Maslon bought them up, made the deals with Something Weird Video, and keeps me in the loop. I’m grateful to him.

BS: You did some music with the Amazing Pink Holes a few years back.  How did that come into existence?

HGL:  Strange! I was giving a speech on marketing in Cleveland. A record producer saw a local notice of that mini-event. He put the deal together and called me. Of course, I said yes and enjoyed the session.

BS:  What’s going on with Grim Fairy Tales?  I’d heard a lot about it but haven’t seen anything on a release date in quite awhile.

HGL:  “Grim Fairy Tales” IS “The Uh-Oh Show.” We retitled it because I was getting too many communications that indicated the trade believed we were making dramatic interpretations of the original Grimm Brothers’ stories.

BS:  What are your feelings on the latest crop of genre filmmakers who rely on gore as their weapon of choice?  Are you at all a fan or do you not see many of these films?

HGL:  I’m not a fan if their output seems contrived, just another one of “those.” Viewers conclude they’re watching a movie they already had seen before.

BS:  After all the years, successes, and notoriety, what do you still have in you that you’re looking forward to unleashing on the world?

HGL:  As many movies as I can inveigle a producer to underwrite!


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I'm the founder of this here site and a contributing writer. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the foundation of who I am as a horror lover but sleaze, exploitation, Italian film, and erotica from the golden age are my areas most widely researched. This is done with a great amount of vigor. When not assaulting my mind with film, I'm with my beautiful family or cheering on my beloved Baltimore Orioles.

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