Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writer: Allison Louise Downe, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Charles Glore, James F. Hurley, Donald Stanford, Fred M. Sandy, Bert Ray, Allen Kahn, Alan J. Dachman.
Starring: William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Allison Louise Downe, Connie Mason, Charles Glore, Gordon Oas-Heim, Jeffrey Allen, Elyn Warner, Scott H. Hall, Candi Conder, Tony McCabe, Elzabeth Lee, William Brooker, Lawrence Aberwood, Elizabeth Davis, Chris Martell, Karl Stoeber, Gretchen Wells, Bill Rogers, Dolores Carlos, Betty Connell, Ruby Tuesday, Nancy Lee Nobel, Ray Sager, Rodney Bedell, Robert Wood, Bobbi West, Judy Cler, Tim Holt, Amy Farrell, Frank Kress, Hedda Lubin.
Running Time: 1175 minutes
BBFC Certificate: 18
This collection is massive, I suspect viewing all this gore has made me ever so slighly insane, but I had a great time.
This goodie bag of gore commences with Blood Feast (1963); the film sited as the first ever splatter frolic, tracking Egyptian, Faud Ramses (Mal Arnold) as he slaughters young women so they can be offered to the goddess Ishtar. Next up, in Scum Of The Earth (1963) a college student Kim Sherwood (Allison Louise Downe) is targeted by some instantly unlikable vermin who coerce her into taking some unsavoury pics, with spiralling consequences.
These first two offerings are accompanied by a brand new introduction curtesy of director Herschell Gordon Lewis himself and an Audio commentary on Blood Feast with Lewis and producer Friedman. These disks are packed with an unbelievable amount of material including an Audio commentary on Scum of the Earth and Blood Feast outtakes. There are more extras including ‘Blood Perceptions’; filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy and Rodney Ascher offer their insight on Blood Feast and how Lewis has shaped film. ‘Herschell’s History’ is an archive interview in which Lewis discusses how he got into film making. In the presentation ‘How Lewis Found His Niche’ Lewis covers more of his early work. There’s even more, in another archive interview with Herschell and Friedman in 1987, there’s a short featuring Blood Feast’s Bill Kerwin and we finish off at last with a Blood Feast radio Spot and Trailer.
Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), is a really neat little diversion into perversion and I’d say the primordial soup for the likes of Texas Chainsaw massacre et al. The second movie on this disc is Moonshine Mountain (1964) a not so idyllic little community where they take brewing with extra body to a new level.
These films are heavily supported with a ton more gear including another new introduction by Herschell. There’s an audio commentary on Maniacs by Lewis and Friedman and even a selection of Maniacs outtakes. ‘Two Thousand Maniacs Can’t Be Wrong’ is an extra in which the director of 2001 Maniacs, Tim Sullivan discusses Two Thousand Maniacs! ‘Hicksploitation: Confidential’ covers the history of the American South’s representation in cinema. While ‘David Friedman: The Gentlemen’s Smut Peddler’ is a tribute to the legendary producer featuring Herschell, Fred Olen Ray, Tim Sullivan and Bob Murawski. In ‘Herschell’s Art of Advertising’, he provides his thoughts on the art of selling films; the DVD culminates with the wacky trailers for Moonshine Mountain and Two Thousand Maniacs!
The third disk reviewed is crammed with even more, Color me Blood Red (1965) is a shocker exploring the fiendish idea of using blood as a painting medium. While in Something Weird (1967) Cronin (Tony McCabe) receives telekinetic powers after being electrocuted and hideously disfigured, in a bid to improve his lot, he does a deal with a witch (Elizabeth Lee). Cronin becomes famous for his psychic abilities leading to a love triangle and fracas with karate fanatic Alex Jordan (William Brooker).
Both flicks are also supported with a new introduction by Herschell and with an audio commentary of Maniacs by Lewis and Friedman, braced up with Color Me Blood Red outtakes. This is followed by ‘The Art of Madness’, an exploration of mad artists in the movies and in ‘Weirdsville’, Jeffrey Sconce considers Something Weird. The extras keep on pilling up as Lewis talks about ‘Jimmy: The Boy Wonder’, his children’s musical from 1966 and his dance short from the same year called ‘A Hot Night at the GO GO Lounge’. The wave of goodies finally draws to conclusion with the trailers for Color Me Blood Red and Something Weird.
The next DVD contains The Gruesome Twosome (1967) the story of crazy Mrs. Pringle (Elizabeth Davis) and her mental son (Chris Martell). They rent rooms to college girls, who tend to get killed and scalped; mmm…I wonder who could be doing it? The next one, A Taste of Blood (1967), which Herschell considered to be his jewel in the crown, is the tale of John Stone (Bill Rogers) and a mysterious package from Blighty. After drinking its contents, he turns into a vampire and decides to travel to England to dispatch Van Helsing’s progenies, meanwhile Van Helsing’s family in turn propose to do away with him. Herschell is kind enough to provide us with another new introduction and audio commentary on both. There are bags more extras here to including, ‘Peaches Christ Flips her Wig!’ in which she covers The Gruesome Twosome, followed by ‘It Came From Florida’ in which Fred Olen Ray discusses Florida film making. We are treated to more fascinating material in ‘Herschell vs The Censors’ as Lewis covers the problems with censorship and oddly angry filmgoers, topped off with a rich serving of trailers for both films.
She-Devils on Wheels (1968) is the tale of a vicious all-female biker gang, in which the women are stronger than men, are humiliatingly sexist and pick up men in a reverse sexist dimension. As for the next offering; Just for the hell of it (1968), I wonder what sort of deranged mind could write this filth? Well thank goodness for H.G.L. as he delights with this story of mindless violence and cruelty, I do hope the vicious oiks get their comeuppance, you’ll have to watch to find out.
Both flicks continue this epic collection with further new introduction and audio commentary on She-Devils. We are subsequently treated to ‘Garage Punk Gore’ a deliberation by Chris Alexander on the music and film of Herschell, while in ‘Shocking Truth!’ Bob Murawski tells about his fascination with Lewis. Next up, Lewis tells us about ‘The Alley Tramp’ from 1968, there are a She-Devils radio spot and trailers for She-devils and Just for the Hell of it.
The penultimate disc includes How To Make A Doll (1968) starring misfit professor (Robert Wood), who doesn’t understand women, so decides to make his own, a pretty decent idea, unlike this film, cos it’s a bit dull, but you have to watch it, just to say you have. Well, we all know the next one; The Wizard of Gore (1970), Montag (Ray Sager),the magician uses hypnotism to hack his victims into pieces in front of his audience, under the guise of magic tricks.Both films are included here with their own fresh introduction by Herschell, including an audio commentary on the Wizard with Lewis. Followed by ‘Montag speaks’ which is another new interview with the Wizard of Gore actor Ray Sager. ‘The Gore the Merrier’ is an interview with Jeremy Kasten, the director of the 2007 Wizard of Gore remake. The stack of treats keeps growing with ‘The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Herschell The Godfather of Gore’. An episode of the Jonathon Ross documentary series on Lewis films featuring Lewis, Friedman, Bill Kerwin and John Waters, the disc finally concludes with the Wizard of Gore trailer.
The final disc reviewed contains This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! (1971), following Roscoe Boone (Jeffrey Allen) as he preaches to his flock, but he is more interested in spirits than the spirit of the Lord. The Feds aim to shut his moonshine operation down, leading to some mad escapades and grubby slaughter including stoning and crucifixion. In The Gore Gore Girls (1972), reporter Nancy (Amy Farrell) and private eye Abraham (Frank Kress) investigate the savage killings of strippers to a back drop of head crushing and buttock tenderising…what else could you want? This unpleasant pair of movies draws this killer collection to a conclusion with the final introduction and audio commentary on the Gore Gore Girls from Herschell. Daniel Krogh delivers the audio commentary for ‘This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! ‘. In a further supplement ‘Regional Bloodshed’ Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons deliberate the achievements of Lewis and the changes to the horror business. ‘Herschell Spills His Guts’ amongst other absorbing tales; tells us why he left the film industry. The final killer “will strip your nerves raw”; the Gore Gore Girls radio spot and in startling colour the trailers for both films.
This colossal box set of gore, liquor and crazy mountain music is a limited edition release by Arrow Video, containing fourteen sickening flicks celebrating the macabre and its jammed solid with extras. Grab it in Dual Format on the 24thOctober, there are two versions, 'Shock and Gore: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ and ‘The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast’, both with oodles of extras. The Shock and Gore version includes a fine selection of collectors cards, you even get a commemorative barf bag, and believe me you are going to need it. A number of these films have been lovingly restored by Arrow; in some cases the original negative has been lost. As some of the original material was extensively damaged, there remain instances of scratches, dirt and occasional loose audio synch, but for me, this just adds to the viewing experience. I reviewed the disks for both versions, many of the films are restored to a fine standard, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip.