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107 Operation Flashpolnt
BUY IT THIS FORTNIGHT
BUY IT THIS FUHlNIb‘l—ll BLOOD FEAST 8. 2,000 MANIACS Herschell Gordon Lewis
(Metro Tartan DVD £15.99) OOOO
Herschell Gordon Lewis is the creator of such superbly-titled schlock horror films as Blood Feast, 2,000 Maniacs, The Gruesome Twosome and, my favourite, The Gore-Gore Girls. Lewis calls them ‘intensive gore movies’, and that's a pretty accurate description of these films, originally released without America’s Motion Picture Arts Association stamp of moral approval to play drive-ins. Had they been MPAA certificated, they’d have been branded XXX.
2,000 Maniacs, which refers to the population of a Southern States town, features a scene in which a man is rolled down a hill in a barrel that’s been banged full of nails. As part of the ancient Egyptian ceremony known as Blood Feast, a woman has her tongue ripped out of her head. Sickeningly gruesome, cheesy with humour and made on the cheap so as to be untroubled by the complications of quality control, Lewis' films are nevertheless - or perhaps because of these elements - enormously entertaining. They’re high camp, cult classics.
Lewis churned out three dozen of his best worst films between 1960 and 1975. After that the ‘godfather of gore’ gave up filmmaking to become . . . wait for it, a direct marketing guru. Twenty years in the business and with his name on as many books (More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Mail Order Advertising, How To Write Powerful Catalog Copy and Sales Letters That Sizzle, not to mention Everybody’s Guide To Plate Collecting, co-authored with his wife, Margo), Lewis now runs his own company out of Ford Lauderdale, Miami.
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‘It was the first movie in which people died with their eyes open. The most spectacular effect was that strange tongue scene.’
When I call up H.G. at Lewis Enterprises he answers with a voice that sounds like the narrator of an old government education film about the wonders of atomic energy: ‘Yes sir, yes sir. Good morning to you!’
I ask him how he accounts for the cult status of his films. ‘Well, Blood Feast hangs there in the human psyche,’ he says so very, strangely amiable. ‘It was the first movie in which people died with their eyes open. The most spectacular effect was that strange tongue scene, which really changed the course of motion picture history because it was so outrageous. We were
strange pioneers in this oddball business.’
A quarter century on Lewis is returning to filmmaking. ‘Blood Feast 2 will have elements that people expect from a film with my name on it,’ he says. ‘Certainly it will be the next generation in terms of what it’ll do to the audience. We are gonna have some spectacular gore. I still have no regard for the MPAA ratings.’
I hang up the phone and Lewis no doubt goes back to re-writing double negative wrongs. But the man who made Sin, Suffer, Repent, A Taste Of Blood and The Wizard Of Gore is about to rise from the grave. (Miles Fielder)
, . —/ /~ z THE LIST 99