THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST – Movie Review

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THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST

  • RELEASE DATE: Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD (Click Here to Purchase a Copy)
  • WRITTEN BY: Herschell Gordon Lewis and others
  • DIRECTED BY: Herschell Gordon Lewis
  • STARRING: Various

-Reviewed by Daniel XIII

With the recent passing of “The Godfather of Gore”; ol’ Herschell Gordon Lewis has been on the mind of the ol’ Ouija Board Kid e’en more than he normally has (and as the master of sleazy exploitation fright flicks you can guess I think about this dude a lot). Well, imagine my surprise when those devilish devils at Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment stuffed my ol’ monstrous mailbox full of lascivious Lewis gems courtesy of their HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST collection!

First thing first; there is an insane amount of material contained in this thing; for instance, this is a list of all of the film’s contained in the release:  BLOOD FEAST, SCUM OF THE EARTH, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!, MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN, COLOR ME BLOOD RED, SOMETHING WEIRD, THE GRUESOME TWOSOME, A TASTE OF BLOOD, SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS, JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT, HOW TO MAKE A DOLL, THE WIZARD OF GORE, THE GORE GORE GIRLS, and THIS STUFF’LL KILL YA!, all presented at 1080p…and believe you me, after watching all of these I can attest that they look waaay better than the versions I saw on VHS and DVD that had been passed around more than the town whor…I mean, these look really good as opposed to previous releases.

While diving in-depth into every film contained within would be an exercise in TL;DR…hahaha; I’m just tickling your asshole; I’m totally going to talk about each film (albeit briefly)!

DISC ONE: BLOOD FEAST/SCUM OF THE EARTH

First up we have ol’ Herschell-baby’s inaugural horror romp BLOOD FEAST; the tale of a psycho caterer that murders women to appease his goddess Ishtar. This flick is most notable for its depictions of gore drenched set pieces that would become Lewis’ trademark (and were beyond anything audiences had seen in 1963).

The second flick contained on the disc, SCUM OF THE EARTH isn’t a fright flick at all (which may surprise those that only know Lewis as “The Godfather of Gore”); rather it’s the tale of a teenage girl who is blackmailed into taking a set of racy candids with a photographer that is chummy with a gang of hoodlums whose boss sells such contraband. It’s sleazy as all get out; but I prefer my H.G. firmly in the horror biz.

As for extras you get the following ass-ton of features (get used to this with this release my creeps): an introduction to the films by Lewis, audio commentary on BLOOD FEAST with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman, audio commentary on SCUM OF THE EARTH by Friedman, BLOOD FEAST outtakes, a conversation with  filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy and Rodney Ascher  about the impact of BLOOD FEAST and Lewis, archival interviews with Lewis, CARVING MAGIC short film, (1959), and a radio spot and trailer for  BLOOD FEAST.

DISC TWO: TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! and MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN

TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! is Lewis at his finest as a tale is spun of six northern folks lured to a small southern town where they are murdered one by one in retaliation for the town’s destruction during the Civil War in various murder set-pieces.

MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN on the other hand concerns the misadventures of a country western singer who returns home to find his bluegrass ass caught in the middle of a feud between moonshiners and “The Revenoores”. While a fun romp in and of itself; it sure as shit ain’t a fright flick, and is nowhere near as deliriously off the wall and entertaining as the pic it’s paired with.

Ready for more bonus features? Check out what you get on this one: another all-new intro for both film’s by Lewis,  an audio commentary on TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman, Two Thousand Maniacs! outtakes, an interview with Tim Sullivan on Two Thousand Maniacs!, a visual essay about the south’s portrayal in film, a tribute to Friedman, a great piece on how Lewis advertised and sold his films, and trailers for both films.

Tired yet? Well there’s so very, very much more…

DISC THREE: COLOR ME BLOOD RED and SOMETHING WEIRD

We get two flicks with their foot planted in the horror biz as we begin Disc Three with COLOR ME BLOOD RED which concerns a painter who utilizes blood from the victims he murders to create his masterpieces.

We follow that heartwarming tale with  a complete piece of “what the fuck” called SOMETHING WEIRD…a film about…well…I’m not really sure. I know it involved LSD, ghosts, feds, a kung fu chop or two…there’s a witch who looks like ass, but can make herself beautiful…a séance. Let’s face it; this is really my kind of flick…and for having never seen it before this release it quickly became on of my favorites of Lewis’ entire oeuvre!

Guess what? Mother fucking extras! You get: another one of those intros by Lewis…look that’s going to get old fast; all the films in this set have those intros, kay? You also get audio commentaries on both films with Lewis and Freidman, COLOR ME BLOOD RED Outtakes, a visual essay on killer artists in genre cinema, film scholar Jeffrey Sconce discussing SOMETHING WEIRD, Lewis discussing JIMMY, THE BOY WONDER, his 1966 children’s musical (tha fuuuuck?!!),  A HOT NIGHT AT THE GO GO LOUNGE! short film, and trailers for both films.

DISC FOUR : THE GRUESOME TWOSOME and A TASTE OF BLOOD

THE GRUESOME TWOSOME is a splatter flick cum comedy about the owner of a wig shop and her deranged son that also owns a boarding house catering to co-eds. Well before too long girls are being scalped and murdered. Probably just a coincidence.

A TASTE OF BLOOD is another of Lewis’ flicks I had never seen before; but ended up loving a shit-ton. In BLOOD we get the tale of a business man that turns into a vampire after drinking tainted brandy. He naturally then sets out on a mission to destroy the descendants of those that ended Dracula’s reign of terror. Like I said; this was a fun one, but my only complaint was its bloated runtime of 117 minutes; waaay too long for a drive-in pic in my opinion.

Amazingly there are no special features on this disc. I’m fucking lying…you get: audio commentaries on both films, an interview with Peaches about THE GRUESOME TWOSOME, an interview with genre legend Fred Olen Ray concerning Florida’s fright flick legacy, a history of Lewis’ battles with the censors, and trailers for both films.

DISC FIVE: SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS and JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT

Disc Five contains two flicks about gang rivalry; SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS concerns an all-female biker gang versus an all-male gang of hot rodders, while JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT spins the yarn of a youth blamed for the actions of a gang of delinquents. Neither of these two are really my bag; but if I had to pick, SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS would be my fav of the two.

As for the extras, they include: an audio commentary for SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS, an interview with film maker/ex-Fango editor Chris Alexander on Lewis’ work and use of music, an interview with Bob Murawski on Lewis’ influence, an interview with Lewis discussing his film THE ALLEY TRAMP, and trailers for both films (OH, AND A RADIO SPOT FOR SHE-DEVILS).

DISC SIX: HOW TO MAKE A DOLL and THE WIZARD OF GORE

As you’ll see we are back in insane-o land with Disc six:

In HOW TO MAKE A DOLL, a nerdy professor amazingly can’t score, so he builds sex robots to get it on. This is basically a true story these days, but in 1968 was considered far-out sci-fi talk Jackson.

We follow up that wholesome gem with one of Lewis’ all time classics, THE WIZARD OF GORE; the tale of Montag the Magician, a dude that presents illusions of women meeting their grizzly demise. The only thing is, the women later die in real life in the same manner as Montag’s illusions. Once again The Godfather of gore delivers with his trademark blood drenched set-pieces!

Extras, Extras! Watch ol’ XIII’s days pass by in a blur of special features! Speaking of which, this disc contains: an audio commentary for THE WIZARD OF GORE, an interview with actor Ray Sager, an interview with Jeremy Kasten, director of the 2007 THE WIZARD OF GORE remake, an episode of The Incredibly Strange Film Show focusing on Lewis, and a trailer for THE WIZARD OF GORE.

DISC SEVEN: THIS STUFF’LL KILL YA! and THE GORE GORE GIRLS

Bringing this set to a close (well for the main features anyway) is another southern fried caper and a final horror hoorah.

THIS STUFF’LL KILL YA! tells of the deeds of a con man who dresses as a preacher to cover his moonshine operation. As with the other non-horror flicks in this collection; this was a solid enough lil’ picture, but I dig on the buckets of blood so these types of things are hard sells for your’s cruelly.

Finally we have THE GORE GORE GIRLS; another of Lewis’ iconic pictures, this one concerning a flighty reporter enlisting a sleazy detective to help solve a case of slashed strippers. Lascivious and bloody; this my fiends is well and truly “the shit”!

Rounding out the extras for the features portion of our program are: audio commentaries for both films, a discussion with film makers  Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons on THE GORE GORE GIRLS’ legacy, a piece on what Lewis has been up to post THE GORE GORE GIRLS, a radio spot for THE GORE GORE GIRLS and a trailer for both films.

By the by; if you’re still not satisfied that this collection is outrageously packed fat with features, if you pick up the “Limited Edition” of this release you also get: an additional 2 bonus Blu-rays featuring 1.33:1 versions of BLOOD FEAST, SCUM OF THE EARTH, COLOR ME BLOOD RED, A TASTE OF BLOOD, and THE WIZARD OF GORE, as well as an additional disc with the outrageously awesome HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE documentary.

Still don’t think you get enough? The limited edition release also includes a 28 page booklet and a collection of high quality post cards!

Look; I’ll cut right to the chase; this release is pricey; but I have never seen such bang for your buck value…14 films on both Blu-ray and DVD; with all of that in-depth bonus content (not to mention the great extras in the limited edition)…I get the feeling that if he had not passed, Arrow would have flown Herschell to your home to shake your hand for picking this baby up!

Packed fat with blood, babes, and bad guys; THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST collection is an absolute “must” for any lover of depraved Drive-In Cinema!

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