Interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis

“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Friday The 13th”, and “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, owe much of their existence to the undisputed Godfather of Gore – Herschell Gordon Lewis. In 1963 Lewis, with his monumental splatter movie “Blood Feast”, single handedly changed the face of horror cinema forever. As well as virtually inventing the gore generation, Lewis also produced a number of “exploitation” movies, as well as sampling the full gamut of exploitation subjects ranging from wife-swapping and ESP to rock ‘n’ roll and LSD. H.G. Lewis created the gore classics such as “Two Thousand Maniacs!”, “The Gore Gore Girls”, “Color Me Blood Red” and “The Wizard of Gore”.  Movie Mikes had the opportunity to talks with H.G. and ask him a few questions about his phenomenal career and what is in store for the future.

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Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel about being called the “Godfather of Gore” and having created the “splatter film”?
H.G. Lewis: While I don’t want it on my tombstone, I certainly cannot object to being named the Godfather of Gore. It gives me a position few independent and under financed film-makers can ever enjoy.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come up with the idea for the film “Blood Feast”?
H.G. Lewis: Watching a typical major company crime-film on television, I realized that the studio was afraid of depicting nasty reality. This, to me, was a logical opening, especially since in a movie emphasizing gory effects the need for heavy production and “star” value didn’t exist.

Mike Gencarelli: Out of “The Blood Trilogy”, consisting of “Blood Feast”, “Two Thousand Maniacs!” and “Color Me Blood Red” Which is your favorite and why?
H.G. Lewis: “Two Thousand Maniacs!” is to this day my personal favorite. It’s as close to a hand-made personal film as I’ve ever made … including the title music and my own voice on the title music. All these years later, “Two Thousand Maniacs!” still plays well.

MG: How was it returning to directing with the sequel to your classic film “Blood Feast” after 30 years?
HGL: Exhilarating. I worked far less than I had worked when I was both director and cinematographer, and I had no decisions in the casting or crew selection. On the negative side, exclusion from major decision-making is what ultimately led to “The Uh-Oh Show.”

MG: What was the hardest production that you have been involved with?
HGL: From a creative point of view, the hardest was “Color Me Blood Red.” From a production point of view, I’d choose the children’s film “Jimmy, the Boy Wonder.”

MG: “Two Thousand Maniacs!” was remade into the successful “2001 Maniacs” in 2005 and its sequel “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” out this summer, how do you feel that your films are living on and being re-imagined?
HGL: Each director puts his personal stamp on a film. I’m in no position to comment positively or negatively on either of those films other than to recognize that Tim Sullivan is a clever director.

MG: How do you feel about the 2007 remake to “The Wizard of Gore”?
HGL: My comments about “2001 Maniacs” also apply to Jeremy Kasden, director of the “Wizard of Gore” remake. I’d have been more slavish to the original in both cases … but so what? The remakes are their films.

MG: Your film “Monster a-Go-Go” has been infamous since its release, it was featured in “Mystery Science Theater 3000. You do you feel about its continued interest?
HGL: Let’s clarify: I didn’t make “Monster-a-Go-Go.” I bought the unfinished negative and built a sardonic campaign around the footage that existed, augmented by just enough “stuff” to finish it. The continued interest confounds me.

MG: Tell me about “7 Deadly Sins: Inside the Ecomm Cult”, what was it the film about?
HGL: This is a strange one. The folks producing this project – whom I hadn’t known before – negotiated a deal with me to appear on-camera, reading pre-written lines. We shot my sequence in about half an hour, in a field next to the building in which I live. I was the only actor for that scene and had no notion that a campaign would be built around my strange appearance. I have to salute the ingenuity of the filmmakers.

MG: Any upcoming projects? Any plans to return to directing?
HGL: I assume you know we’re just completing the editing and background music for “The Uh-Oh Show,” which I’m counting on to be a hit. And if I can put together a production group, I may make “Mr. Bruce and the Gore Machine.”

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