• Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast, The



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: October 25th, 2016.
    Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
    Cast: Herschell Gordon Lewis, Connie Mason, William Kerwin, Larry Drake, Tony McCabe
    Year: Various
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    While iconic filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis, the Godfather Of Gore, may have recently shuffled off this mortal coil, his legacy lives on and nowhere is that more apparent than in Arrow Video’s massive retrospective boxed set release, The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast. Collecting fourteen of the man’s cinematic efforts spread across fourteen discs (two films on each Blu-ray disc and then those same two films on each DVD in the set – this is a combo pack release), this type of treatment to a fringe cult icon like Lewis is almost unprecedented.

    The movies that make up The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast are:

    DISC ONE/TWO:

    Blood Feast:

    “Nothing to appalling in the annals of horror!”

    After a great opening credits sequence in which blood spells out the movie title over an image of the Sphinx, we meet Mrs. Dorothy Fremont (Lyn Bolton), a very proper woman who wants to throw a party for her daughter, Suzette (Playboy Playmate Connie Mason). She hires a caterer named Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold) after he sells her on the idea of an Egyptian feast. As Fuad goes about preparing the meal, local ladies start disappearing and a pair of cops - Frank (Scott H. Hall) and Detective Pete Thornton (William Kerwin, credited as Thomas Wood) make the scene and try to figure out who has been killing these women and why. Yet all the while, Ramses prepares his feast... and his sacrifice to Ishtar!

    Fairly awful in terms of acting and direction, Blood Feast nevertheless delivers exactly what it promises. Insanely gory even by modern standards, this one knocked the socks off of sixties era theater goers and before you know it, this twenty-five thousand dollar production had cleared a few million in box office returns. Ever the promoter, producer Friedman came up with novelty barf-bags to hand out at theaters and even went so far as to bring nurses to screenings to help out in case people fainted. These wacky exploitation tactics worked wonders and the film made a killing in spite of the fact that it's really pretty terrible.

    As terrible as it is, however, it's hard for any self-respecting horror buff or drive-in fan not to have a good time with this one. Mal Arnold, who Lewis would later use in Goldilocks And The Three Bares and Scum Of The Earth is perfect as Fuad, delivering his lines with complete conviction and delivering one of the most thrilling gimp legged chase scenes through the suburbs of Miami you're ever likely to see. Connie Mason isn't much of an actress but she looks great here and handles her role just fine. Her relationship with Kerwin might not ever go down in the books are a romance for the ages but they make for a likeable enough pair. It's the gore effects though, that combined with Arnold's flat out weird lead role, that keep people coming back to this one. It's silly, splashy, gooey, gory and fun - sure it looks as cheap as it was and it's goofy as goofy can be but it never overstays its seventy minute running time and it's nothing if not entertaining, albeit sometimes for all the wrong reasons. Lewis would follow this up with a sequel, Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat in 2002.

    Scum Of The Earth:

    “From the shadows of their sordid haunts ... they slither like predatory beasts ... to stalk their prey! “

    Up next is Lewis’ first roughie, Scum Of The Earth. The film may not be as twisted and gory as some of Lewis and Friedman’s better known gore films but it sure has a lot working in its favor. The movie follows a pretty girl next door type named Kim (Vickie Miles) who has hopes and dreams of making it to the big time but winds up making a few missteps along the way. Thanks to some bad advice from a shifty gal named Sandy (Sandra Sinclair), when she needs to find a way to pay the bills, she falls in with a bad crowd and before you know it, wholesome Kim has got her fun-bags out for a filthy pornographer, Mr. Lang, bent on profiting from her ample cleavage.

    Eventually, Kim finds herself on the bad end of a black mail scheme and is forced from doing innocent cheesecake shots into taking harder, edgier photo shoots alongside a muscle bound hunk named Ajax (Craig Maudslay Jr.). Once the police get involved it's all downhill for poor Kim, who once showed such promise...

    Not quite as nasty as the first film on this disc (and made two years before it), Scum Of The Earth is still a blast. Full of wonderfully venomous dialogue (some so good that Something Weird co-opted it for their trademark introductory clip) that will have you grinning from ear to ear, it's still a fairly dark picture. The plot is goofy, contrived even, but it's got some welcome atmosphere and some nice camerawork. If that weren't enough, there's the presence of lovely Vickie Miles (or, if you prefer, Allison Louse Downe), who would later appear in Lewis films Suburban Roulette, Blood Feast as well as various nudist films made in the early sixties. She's at her most beautiful here and is the perfect choice to play a woman whose innocence we're all waiting with baited breath to see gleefully corrupted.

    Lewis and Friedman would go on to make better and more famous films, but this one is still a doozy.

    DISC THREE/FOUR:

    Two Thousand Maniacs!:

    “The most diabolical device ever contrived... designed solely for carnage by a town of madmen crazed with BLOOD LUST!”

    Connie Mason and William Kerwin were cast again in this follow up to Blood Feast, this time playing a couple named Terry and Tom who, while out for a drive, wind up in the small southern town of Pleasant Valley. Amazingly enough, they've arrived just in time for the town's centennial celebration, much to the delight of the ridiculously friendly Mayor Buckman (Jeffrey Allen in the first of a few films he'd make for Lewis) who just insists that they stick around and enjoy the fun. When a few more tourists - John (Jerome Eden) and his wife Bea (Shelby Livingston) and David (Michael Korb) and his wife Beverly (future Mrs. H. G. Lewis herself, Yvonne Gilbert) - wind up in town as well, the citizens of Pleasant Valley start to show their true colors when it turns out that the different celebratory events are all based around killing off one of them!

    Yeehaw, the south is gonna rise again!

    Not as deliriously gory as the film that came before it, 2000 Maniacs still manages to serve up some healthy doses of grue but this time tongue is placed so firmly in cheek that you know you're not supposed to take any of it seriously at all. From the troubadours who wander the streets strumming their banjos and singing their songs of the south to the overly hospitable citizenry of the town itself, this is a film that wants to make you laugh as Lewis and company start to get very creative with the gore set pieces. Whereas the earlier film was content to simply show you severed limbs and entrails, this one brings the mayhem to the forefront and makes a spectacle out of each and every death scene in the movie. It's in keeping with the story's nature and with the ridiculously over the top performances and again helps us to overlook the low budget trappings that are evident in some of the acting.

    The film would be remade as 2001 Maniacs in 2005 with Robert Englund playing the mayor, and there'd be a sequel to that remake in 2010 called 2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams but neither one matches the original even if they're moderately entertaining in their own right.

    Moonshine Mountain:

    “Git set fer the wildest rip-roarin’est screenload of cornball actions and excitement you ever eye-balled!”

    This next film, the first feature that Lewis made after splitting from his partnership with Friedman, tells the story of a country music star named Doug Martin (Charles Glore). He leaves his swanky abode in New York and head south to get in touch with the roots of his raising back in North Carolina. Showing up sometime after his arrival is his main girl, Della (played by the super foxy Marilyn Walters). They figure getting back to the basics in life will help Doug come up with some new material for his next album.

    Shortly after his arrival his coat is ‘traded’ with a local yocal. It’s got all his money in it and so he tries to get it back. This ends up introducing him to Jeb Carpenter (Jeffrey Allen) and his family members Laura (Bonnie Hinson), Mary Lou (Gretchen Eisner) and a few others. They’ve got a moonshine operation going strong, all under the watchful eye of Sheriff Asa Potter (Gordon Oas-Heim) and another man named Ed Basham (Mark Douglas). Before long, Doug can’t help but to give in to the feelings that hit him fast and hard any time pretty Laura pops by – but that Sheriff, he’s about to make things difficult for everybody.

    This one is a whole lot of hicksploitation clichés thrown at you for almost ninety straight minutes! Throw Jeffrey Allen into a good role and you’re already half way there and he’s great as the moonshiner in chief, ending every sentence with a hearty belly laugh. Pat Patterson of Doctor Gore fame pops up here too (he also worked as the assistant director on the film), as does Gordon Oas-Heim (better known as Adam Sorg, who would be used again shortly by Lewis in Color Me Blood Red). It’s also worth noting that Charles Glore, who plays our lead here, was the guitar player in 2000 Maniacs – kind of great when you think about it. He makes for a likeable lead. He’s kind of dopey but he fits the part well.

    The movie has a good sense of comedic timing, Lewis was quite good at this type of thing when he tried, and it goes at a good pace, even if it is ridiculously repetitive. The director’s penchant for country music (Lewis wrote most of the music used in the film) is also a big part of what makes this one as entertaining as it is, and we’re treated to a few different musical numbers throughout the movie – each one quite well done and catchy (the highlight being a tune called ‘Go Tell Aunt Rhodey’ or is it ‘Go Tell That Roadie’ like the subtitles say?)! The opening theme, a ballad about the love of white lightning, is also pretty great.

    The movie also features some weird exploitative material, the most obvious being that the sheriff tends to dispose of those he doesn’t like by stomping people to death, roughing up the bodies and disposing of them in the moonshine still! There’s also a weird rape scene in here that you probably won’t expect to see coming. At the same time, it’s the same joke over and over again and it starts to get old well before the movie reaches its fairly predictable conclusion. Lewis states in the introduction to this that it was made to cash in on the success of Thunder Road and that the locals in the area the shot the film in thought that the giant still they built as the movie’s central prop was real. As such, they kept trying to get into it, hoping to steal some hooch!

    DISC FIVE/SIX:

    Color Me Blood Red:

    “A Blood-Splattered Study in the Macabre!”

    1965's Color Me Blood Red tells the macabre tale of a struggling painter named Adam Sorg (played by Gordon Oas-Heim, credited as Don Joseph) who brings some of his latest paintings to be displayed at a local art gallery run by Mr. Farnsworth (Scott H. Hall). Here a critic named Gregorovich (William Harris) tells him he has commercial appeal but could do better in his use of color. Sorg takes this to heart and eventually winds up stabbing his nagging girlfriend in the head and using her blood to create a new painting. Of course, once it's displayed it's the surprise hit of the show, though Sorg won't sell it, not even for fifteen thousand dollars.

    As Sorg's career starts to take off thanks to his newfound methods, he finds himself in need of more blood to use - and he finds it in the form of a few nubile young ladies in the area. Meanwhile, some teens decide to have a nocturnal beach party right outside Sorg's home and he tries to talk one of the girls into modeling for him.

    Basically a remake of Roger Corman's A Bucket Of Blood (made five years earlier), this third installment isn't as gory or sensationalist as the first two entries but it's still a fun time at the movies. What makes this one work is Gordon Oas-Heim's rather over the top performance as Sorg. His tendency to snap at his girlfriend over the most insignificant matters lets him chew the scenery on a pretty regular basis while the big finale lets him go completely over the top. More gore and tighter pacing would have gone a long way towards making this one a better film than it is - do we really need multiple scenes of people riding water bikes on the beach? - but as it stands now, even if it's the weakest of the three films in this collection it still offers up a couple of nasty gore scenes and some memorably quotable oddball lines of dialogue ("F is for.... Farnsworth!"). Like the other films in the set, it's quirky, goofy and cheap but pretty entertaining and enjoyable drive in fare.

    Something Weird:

    “An unbelievable journey into the awesome worlds of E.S.P. and witchcraft!”

    The movie that gave name to one of the greatest video labels in the world! In this feature from 1967 we learn the torrid tale of one Cronin ‘Mitch’ Mitchell (Tony McCabe). At the start of the film, Mitch is a perfectly normal guy who leads a perfectly normal life until one day, bad luck strikes! A freak accident with an electrical wire burns up his face! Poor Mitch – but wait, this freak accident didn’t just disfigure him, it gave him psychic powers! How? Never mind that! It doesn’t matter.

    None too keen on his new look, Mitch basically goes into hiding for a while but soon realizes he can make a few bucks for himself using his powers to tell people’s fortunes. This, again seemingly by chance, introduces him to a haggard old woman (Mudite Arums) who tells him she can fix his face if he agrees to make sweet, sweet love to her! He agrees and after the deed is done, his face is back to its old handsome self – but the old woman has changed too, everyone around him sees her not as an old hag but as a beautiful young lady named Ellen Parker (Elizabeth Lee). Soon enough, he and foxy Ellen start up a roadshow of sorts, travelling around and using Mitch’s abilities to help people – they help a funeral home get rid of a pesky ghost and then try to help find out who is behind a rash of murders. It’s during this last case that they meet up with a karate expert/psychiatrist named Dr. Alex Jordan (William Brooker), sent by the government to keep an eye on things and maybe, just maybe, prove Mitch is a fraud. But when Alex decides he’s far more interested in lovely Ellen and all that she can offer him, all bets are off… that’s’ when it’s time to introduce LSD into the equation!

    Quite possibly the only movie to feature a scene where a woman is attacked by a sheet, Something Weird is a gloriously bizarre horror picture laced with all sorts of trippy sequences and weird drug-induced insanity. The whole thing is as loopy, if not loopier, than anything else in Lewis’ already loopy filmography but hot damn if this one doesn’t deliver the goods and then some. The cinematography is a bit more polished here, the lighting more effective and the pacing quite good. The performances are about what you’d expect but you’ve got to love Tony McCabe (who Lewis also used in Suburban Roulette a year later) in the lead and one hit wonder Elizabeth Lee? Hubba hubba! It’s a shame she doesn’t appear to have done anything else in front of the camera. William Brooker, also a man with only a single film credit to his name, is pretty great as the bad guy here. Everyone involved seems to be giving it their all with varying degrees of effectiveness.

    Really though, it’s the visuals that sell this one. Lots of swirling psychedelic colors are used, some weird kaleidoscopic effects are employed and yeah, underneath all of that we get bizarre makeup appliances (the most obvious being the hag) and some murders that don’t make sense but are all the better for it. This is one for the books, kids. Lewis even provides the occasional narration used in the film (credited as Sheldon Seymour) and that whackadoo score? Killer stuff.

    DISC SEVEN/EIGHT:

    The Gruesome Twosome:

    “Think you've seen blood and gore? Think you've seen wild, way-out humor? YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET!”

    Shot in 1967, this gore picture revolves around a little old lady named Mrs. Pringle (Elizabeth Davis). She runs a wig shop and that wig shop’s claim to fame is that it uses only the finest in real human hair to create the products sold within its walls. They even advertise this outside – ‘100% human hair’ – it’s right there on the sign. Poor Mrs. Pringle also tends to the needs of her son, Rodney (Chris Martell), a hulking simpleton with a monobrow and shaggy hair.

    Also painted on a sign outside the store is another placard that reads ‘Rooms For Rent.’ Pringle makes some easy money on the side by renting out the rooms above the shop to nubile college girls – but on top of that, she also uses them as stock! See, after these girls get comfortable, she has Rodney drag them off to the back room and scalp them. Now you see why the whole ‘100% human hair’ thing is so important to the premise, right? He might scalp them with a big ol’ regular knife or he might use an electrical carving knife but either way, Rodney will scalp them for his mom and then play with their guts, cut off their heads and muck up their eyes. He’s a bit of a dick, that Rodney. He doesn’t mean to be, he simply doesn’t know any better, but still.

    This is all going fine for them until Kathy (Gretchen Welles), a bit of a wannabe detective, tries to find out what happened to her missing friend, Dawn (Dianne Raymond), whether her boyfriend Dave (Rodney Bedell) likes it or not. Well, it turns out that this friend was one of Pringle’s tenants, so it didn’t end well for her, but Kathy wants to uncover what’s really going on. Eventually, however, Kathy meets Rodney…

    Opened by a completely mind-melting scene where two Styrofoam heads (wig shop props) with faces drawn on them talk about the story before being stabbed, this one is played more for laughs than anything else but it’s still kind of great. There’s gore galore, all done in Lewis’ trademark cheapjack style, and some nice ladies to look at in various states of dress and undress peppered throughout the movie.

    Elizabeth Davis (who Lewis used a year later in How To Make A Doll – more on that in a bit) is fantastic in the lead. Never once is she scary but you never get the impression she’s supposed to be. Her dialogue has a lot of tongue in cheek goofiness to it and she delivers with just as she should, with the right balance of menace and macabre humor. Chris Martell (who had a brief but interesting career, popping up in Scream Baby Scream and Flesh Feast and credited as the assistant director on Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things!) lumbers about with all the goofy charm you could hope for. His character is dimwitted and obviously under the influence of his evil mother. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing but he clearly enjoys doing it. He’s a lot of fun to watch here. Throw in pretty Gretchen Welles as the heroine and yeah, this works.

    This is briskly paced, shot about as well as anything else Lewis worked on in the era, and it features another pretty neat score. Not the best of Lewis’ gore films but plenty entertaining and gleefully stupid in all the right ways.

    A Taste Of Blood:

    “A ghastly tale drenched with gouts of blood spurting from the writhing victims of a madman's lust!”

    Made the same year as The Gruesome Twosome, A Taste Of Blood introduces us to Miami’s John Stone (Bill Rogers). Like most of the characters in Lewis’ films, he starts off as an everyday, average guy. He’s a successful business man and he’s doing alright for himself, but when one day he receives a strange inheritance in the form of two obviously very old bottles of brandy, well, his life changes quite quickly. Intrigued by this strange arrival, John can’t help but want to sample the strange mystery booze, even if his lovely wife, Helene (Elizabeth Wilkinson), urges him not to.

    What John didn’t know, but will soon find out, is that the bottles actually contained the blood of one of his distant relatives – none other than Count Dracula himself! Shortly after drinking the ‘brandy’ John starts to change. His face becomes pale and corpse-like, he’s not too keen on daylight and he’s developing an unquenchable thirst for blood! He also manages to put poor Helene under his spell.

    If that weren’t weird enough, John starts to feel as if he should avenge the death of Dracula by hunting down and taking out the modern day ancestors of those who put the original vampire to death. So John sets off to England to do just that, making his way through a few victims, but once he bites the neck of a peeler named Vivian (Gail Janis), he soon learns that none other than Dr. Howard Helsing (Otto Schlessinger) is picking up his trail.

    One of Lewis’ lesser horror pictures, A Taste Of Blood is relatively tame compared to the gorier efforts he was churning out around the same time. There’s some gore here, to be clear, but it’s not nearly as extreme or over the top as it is in the other films, mostly just some neck bitings, stakings and blood drooling. The movie is also remarkably long for a Lewis film and really would have been a better film had a more judicious editor been employed – this thing is only a couple of minutes shy of the two hour mark. Regardless, if it’s less than perfect it’s still got enough to interest fans of the man’s work. We get a nifty burlesque scene, a few pretty ladies and some weird music. The opening credits are cool (one of Lewis’ most distinctive traits as a filmmaker in a lot of ways!) and there’s some neat colored lighting used throughout.

    Miami does a pretty shoddy job of doubling for England but Lewis doesn’t let that stop him. The scenes on the dock where the coffin is moved around are kind of neat for some reason. Bill Rogers is pretty cool to watch in the lead. Once he turns into the vampire, his face is perpetually covered in corpse-like makeup and a lot of times it looks like it’s rotting off of his face. He’s shot in close-up a lot, some of the camera angles used here are legitimately eerie. Still, this is low budget Lewis, nothing more than that – it’s not likely to give anyone nightmares.

    Lewis himself pops up in front of the camera playing a goofy British seaman. Apparently the film brought Lewis to the attention of Roger Corman, who offered him a job that Lewis politely declined. Given the uptick in production values we see on display in this one, that’s really not all that surprising. This is well made in a lot of ways, it’s just a bit too long and, well, the story is basically Dracula so we kind of know how it’s going to end before it even really gets going.

    DISC NINE/TEN:

    She-Devils On Wheels:

    “See! Female Hellcats Ruling Their Men With Tire-Irons As Their Instruments Of Passion! “

    The late sixties sure were a busy time for Lewis. One of five films he cranked out in 1968, She-Devils On Wheels is his take on the biker film craze that was running rampant through drive-in’s across the country thanks to the success of films like Easy Rider. But this time, the approach was different – where most biker films revolved around men and left the women in subservient background roles, this time the ladies were right up front from start to finish.

    The Man-Eaters are the toughest chicks on two wheels. You could say that they’re the Hellcats that nobody likes, and if you said that, you’d be right. The opening theme song solidifies this. The gang is led by Queen (Betty Connell), she’s none too keen on men outside of using them for pleasure when she feels like it. Her biker sisters feel the same way. The movie spends a fair bit of time showing us what these ladies can do – roughing up dudes, trashing a small town and lining up studs to have some fun with! Things get dicey when one of the girls, Karen (Christie Wagner), decides she doesn’t want some random buy but has her heart set on one named Bill (David Harris). The girls are seriously discouraged from getting too attached to their boy-toys, and Queen tell her that unless she winds to find herself in a bad spot she’s got to drag poor Bill behind her chopper! This doesn’t end well for Bill.

    The plot more or less picks up when Joe-Boy (John Weymer) and his gang of hot-rod driving hoodlums moves in on The Man-Eaters’ turf. Queen sets things straight right from the start by having her gals beat up and humiliate the guys. But soon the guys respond in kind by kidnapping one of their own, a gal named Honey Pot (Nancy Lee Noble). They send her back to the gang but just barely in one piece. At this point, it’s all-out war as Queen and the rest of the Man-Eaters

    This is a good one! It’s got plenty of tough talk and lots of grisly, poorly choreographed violence to hold our attention. This is highlighted by a decapitation scene that looks like it very well could have recycled one of the Styrofoam heads The Gruesome Twosome! Lewis reportedly used real life biker chicks in the cast and to be fair, these ladies look pretty comfortable on their hogs. They cruise around like they don’t owe anyone a damn thing and you probably wouldn’t want to mess with them, especially the She-Hulk that is Whitey (Pat Poston, who pops up in Just For The Hell Of It, made the same year, in a small background role).

    Granted, this doesn’t reinvent the biker genre and outside of the gender swap aspect, it doesn’t really bring anything new to it but it does everything a good biker movie should do. Great music, cool shots of motorcycles cruising around, lots of scenes involving civil disobedience, lots of brawls and hey, even an orgy! It’s hard not to think of Faster, Pussycat… Kill! Kill! (made three years prior) when you watch this, as it’s got a lot of the same ‘tough chick movie’ qualities

    It’s also worth noting that The Cramps covered the theme song, Get Off The Road, from this one on their album A Date With Elvis (easily found as one of the bonus tracks on the reissue and one of only a handful of songs where Ivy did the vocals instead of Lux). Dig it! They also covered the theme from Faster Pussycat too, but that’s not really relevant, though it proves they had impeccable taste in movies.

    Just For The Hell Of It:

    “The new look in madness that laughs and destroys anything in its way... including your life!”

    Also known as ‘that movie where they stick a baby in a garbage can,’ 1968’s Just For The Hell Of It is a torrid tale of youth gone wild! Dexter (Ray Sager, the Wizard Of Gore himself!) is a troubled and angry young man. Lewis communicates this to us in no uncertain terms almost as soon as the movie starts by showing us a scene where he and his pals absolutely destroy a room and pretty much everything in it. Why? Just for the Hell of it, of course!

    He and his pals - Denny (Steve White), Bitsy (Nancy Lee Noblel), Lummox (Ralph Mullin) and Cransy (Larry Williams) – are responsible for a rash of crime and vandalism that sweeps across the Florida town they call home. Basically these kids drive around in a Mustang and break stuff for kicks – and yeah, they will snatch your baby out of its stroller and put it in a garbage can if you’re not careful. As their antics seem to evolve from pranks to more serious crimes, they wind up beating the crap out of a guy on the beach and raping his girlfriend.

    Meanwhile, good guy jock Doug (Rodney Bedell), his girlfriend Jeanne (Agi Gynes) and their pals get Denny’s fur up. One bad move later and Jeanne is all carved up, a rat drawn on her chest with a knife. Will Denny not stop his reign of terror? Oh you just know payback is gonna be a bitch.

    Featuring more great music from Lewis (credited again as Seymour Sheldon), who got some help from his son Robert, Just For The Hell Of It is pretty nutty stuff. The plot comes second to the scenes in which Denny and friends make life miserable for good natured folk like you and me and the movie is all the better for it. The rivalry with Doug is never properly established but who cares when Denny’s gang is lighting people’s newspapers on fire and harassing kids trying to play a game of baseball! This stuff is way more entertaining to watch than any old drama anyway!

    This one moves at a wicked fast pace and it’s never dull. The performances are almost always over the top, no one seems capable of dialing things down and really, you never want them to. If there’s a moral to the story (don’t trash your town and don’t hurt innocent people?) it all gets sort of lost in the action. There’s not much in the way of style here, it’s shot pretty flat like a lot of Lewis’ stuff was, but you don’t need flashy camerawork when you’ve got an hour and a half of bad kids doing bad things and just completely fucking shit up! There’s also a great opening theme song (‘Destruction’) and a super mod garage rock band performance!

    DISC ELEVEN/TWELVE:

    How To Make A Doll:

    “When it came to girls, he was still in kindergarten!”

    Another entry in Lewis’ filmography from 1968, How To Make A Doll introduces audiences to a man named Percy Corley (Robert Wood). He’s a smart guy, a mathematician by trade, but when it comes to hitting it off with the fairer sex, Percy is a big ol’ zero. He complains often to his mother (Elizabeth Davis again) that girls just don’t want anything to do with him, and he’s right. It might have something to do with the fact that he drives a tiny little red car.

    Thankfully for Percy, his pal Dr. Hamilcar West (Jim Vance) has invented a new type of computer that has a lot of blinking lights on it. He keeps this in a room with lots of wood paneling and knick-knacks scattered about in an effort to convince us that this is a high tech science lab. It doesn’t work, but getting back to it, this computer – it can basically create anything the user tells it to. And what does Percy want more than anything? A beautiful woman to call his own, of course! It takes a few tries (the machine spits out a rabbit and then a transvestite!) but soon enough Percy is the proud new owner of his very own nymphomaniacal dream girl (Bobbi West).

    Percy learns quickly in the ways of love and before you know it, he’s gone from zero to hero in this newly created reality that he somehow enters through one of those big hairdryers that goes over your head. He finds himself in all manner of sexy predicaments, the kind that require him to service the bevy of beauties that Lewis parades around in front of the camera. Percy, though… he needs more. He’s having fun but he knows this isn’t real. When he rejects his robotic lady friends, they persist and a weird scuffle of sorts winds up breaking his spectacles. It’s then that he meets Agnes (West again), a mild mannered college girl who may or may not be exactly what he’s been looking for all this time.

    How To Make A Doll is hardly a feminist statement, in fact, it’s pretty dire in that regard portraying pretty much all of its female characters as little more than receptacles for male pleasure. Never mind the fact that most of them are robots! At the same time, they men in the film are complete dolts, so the picture is an equal opportunity offender in that regard, and if you came to an H.G. Lewis film looking for political correctness in the first place? Nah, that’d never happen.

    Quickly paced and full of pretty ladies this is a cheaply made nudie cutie (that is suspiciously devoid of nudity, basically rendering it all delightfully pointless) that offers up slim characterizations, loads of bad clichés and plenty of stupid, but somehow still funny, sight gags. If that weren’t enough, none other than Brad Grinter has a small supporting role in the picture as Agnes’ father (yes, Brad Grinter… nudist – and star of the mighty Blood Freak!). He might be credited as Brett Jason Merriman but it’s him.

    All in all, How To Make A Doll is an irredeemably awful film – and as such, completely worth checking out for fans of Lewis’ screwy output.

    The Wizard Of Gore:

    “An Astounding Walk Down the Bloody Corridors of the Occult! “

    In this, the second last of Lewis' original gore films, Ray Sagar plays a magician named Montag The Magnificent, a self-proclaimed 'master of illusion' who has a knack for strange soliloquies and who, when we meet him, pulls a lovely female member of the audience up on stage to assist in a trick he'll perform for the crowd. The audience then sees the volunteer brutally murdered right there on the stage, but amazingly enough once the trick is over, she then appears completely unharmed and returns to her seat as happy as can be.

    There's more to this, however, when the volunteers start turning up dead shortly after the trick has been completely. Bodies start piling up around town as a TV reporter, Sherry Carson (Judy Cler), who sat in on one of his shows tries to learn more about this magician. He refuses an interview but offers to perform a trick live on TV for her audience. She and her boyfriend, Jack (Wayne Ratay), start to suspect that Montag may be behind these murders after all, and with some help from another reporter, Greg (Phil Laurenson), start to try to put together the pieces of his mysterious past. Montag, however, has got big plans for his live TV debut...

    As you'd expect from one of Lewis' gore films, the murder scenes here are the highlight. One woman has her stomach cut open by a chainsaw, another is murdered by a giant drill press, her intestines spilling out over the sides of her carcass, and of course, there's the big gooey finale that we won't spoil here. The storyline is flimsy and repetitive, basically stringing us along from one of Montag's performances to the next, but it's all made quite watchable by the enjoyably screwy performance of Ray Sagar in the title role. He delivers he speeches with such fiery wooden passion that you can't help but love the guy, even if you know he's up to no good. His makeup isn't done very well and he doesn't look nearly as old as the character is probably supposed to be (close up shots reveal the makeup appliances aren't staying on his face all that well!) but he does the best that he can and then some with the part and you've got to love him for it. The rest of the cast sort of fumble through the storyline as is typical in Lewis' movies and the movie is about ten to fifteen minutes longer than it should be but fans of B-horror pictures ought to have a good time with this one. Stylish? No, not in the least and made fast and cheap but not without some inspired scenes of creative carnage. The film was remade in 2007 with Crispin Glover as Montag.

    DISC THIRTEEN/FOURTEEN:

    This Stuff’ll Kill Ya:

    “Too Much Lovin'! Too Much Likker! Too Much Lawbreakin'!”

    Made in 1971 towards the end of the main part of his career behind the camera, this film revolves around Roscoe Boone (Jeffrey Allen again!). He’s a preacher by trade, but on the side he’s running moonshine for fun and profit. He watches over a rather twisted flock. We know they’re twisted when before Boone will allow one of the women folk to get hitched, he allows some of the men in the congregation to rape her. You kind of get the impression that maybe some cousins reproduced here, or maybe even some brothers and sisters, but hey, if you’re going to go Hillbilly, you might as well go FULL Hillbilly.

    Things get wonky for Boone when some nosey F.B.I. agents, led by Agent Clark (Tim Holt, who used to appear in respectable fare like Treasure Of The Sierra Madre in his younger days – this would be his final film, he’d pass away two years later, fairly young at fifty-four years old), start poking around. When Boone realizes that they aim to puta stop to his bootlegging ways, he has his congregation tie and bound the Feds and force feed them some of his hooch. Once they’re properly lubricated, he then has the photographed in positions respectable men should not be photographed in with some of the local ladies. Tit for tat, right? Things go south (deep south, ha!) from there when one of the girl speaks about. She doesn’t think what they’ve done to the Feds is right and soon enough, she’s found murdered, the victim of a stoning. It doesn’t stop there. A car crash takes out one of Boone’s best drivers and then two visiting ladies who stumble upon the operation are literally nailed up and crucified on the church’s lawn!

    When the Feds get back in the game and come up with a plane to hit Boone where it hurts – right in his wallet – he goes from unhinged and crazy to diabolically evil…

    This one blends elements from earlier Lewis movies like Moonshine Mountain (he recycles the song Love That White Lightning that was used to open up that film) and Two Thousand Maniacs! and blends them together in a film that works both as a genuinely entertaining trash epic and a pretty searing condemnation of the hypocrisy often involved in organized religion. Jeffrey Allen is, once again, the star of the show. His Reverend Boone is an absolute slimeball and Allen plays it perfectly. He’s charismatic when he needs to be and lecherously evil when the story calls for it. Tim Holt does a decent enough job here as the lead agent out to stop Boone, but he does appear out of his element a fair bit. Also appearing in the cast is a young Larry Drake as a redneck named, of course, Bubba and Lewis regular stock player Ray Sager.

    Supposedly this was also released under the alternate title of The Devil Wears Clodhoppers, which is kind of great when you think about it. The movie is strangely paced and a weird mix of hicksploitation and gore with some strange sex thrown in too. Lewis shot this in Oklahoma, most of it on a soundstage, but some of the outdoor locations and some authenticity to the surroundings. Like Moonshine Mountain a lot of the jokes are repetitive but any time you start nodding off, and you will start nodding off no matter how much sleep you got, something completely unexpected will happen to jar you back into the film. Not the best film in the set by a long shot, but it has its moments.

    The Gore Gore Girls:

    “Nothing Has Ever Stripped Your Nerves As Screamingly Raw As The Gore Gore Girls!”

    The last gore film Lewis would make (at least until he came out of retirement to make Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat in 2002) is really the only one of his pictures to mix the extreme gore with some sexualized angles resulting in what was arguably one of his most controversial films. The storyline follows Nancy Weston (Amy Farrell), a reporter for a paper called The Globe, as she accompanies a private investigator named Abraham Gentry (Frank Kress) on a case. In order to convince him to take it, she has to offer him $25,000.00 up front and another $25,000.00 upon cracking it, but in return her paper gets exclusive rights to the story. And what story would that be? Well, a stripper named Suzie Cream Puff (Jackie Kroeger) was recently murdered and The Globe figures there's more to this than meets the eye.

    So Abraham and Nancy hit the streets, stopping first at the peeler bar where Suzie used to work where they meet a cocktail waitress named Marlene (Hedda Lubin) who can dish up the attitude just as well as Abraham can. She doesn't offer much help but a $50.00 bill dangled in front of another stripper's face gets them heading in the right direction - a guy named Joseph Carter who had a thing for Suzie. They follow up on this lead which leads to other clues but while they're out snooping around town, a stripper named Candy Cane bites the dust. Gentry starts to suspect that a damaged Vietnam vet named Grout (Ray Sager) who has the strange habit of drawing faces on vegetables before crushing them on the bar of his favorite strip club might be the culprit - but the investigation is cut short by the intrusion of a group of militant feminists who storm the club. Eventually the owner of the strip club, Mr. Marzdone Mobilie (Henny Youngman), decides to hold a stripping contest which a drunken Nancy decides to enter. Gentry figures that this will lure the stripper killing maniac out of the shadows and help him catch him before he can kill again...

    As restrictions regarding the theatrical display of sex films started to subside in the early 70s Lewis had to find a way to compete and with The Gore Gore Girls he decided to mix the gore films that had been successful for him with some naked ladies for maximum effect. The film, notorious for a scene in which a woman has her nipples cut off only to have a bloody lactation afterwards and for a scene in which a black woman has her face shoved into hot oil cooking french-fries, is a bit seedier than some of his other movies but it's all done with tongue placed firmly in cheek so it's hard to find it offensive by modern standards even if there's no doubt that it would have been quite shocking in its day.

    Amy Farrell plays her reporter character as a bit of a ditz and you just know she's going for fall for Frank Kress' private detective even if he is an arrogant jerk. Both actors have fun with their parts and it's a kick to see Sagar pop up in this one again even if his work here isn't nearly as over the top as his performance in the earlier feature. Probably the weirdest aspect of the cast is the inclusion of Henny Youngman as the strip club owner. He sort of pops up out of nowhere, makes a few corny jokes and then lingers around in the background a bit but his appearance here definitely adds a certain something to an already screwy movie.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The movies in this set are presented in the following aspect ratios, each transfer is in AVC encoded 1080p high definition:

    Blood Feast: 1.85.1 widescreen, color
    Scum Of The Earth: 1.85.1 widescreen, black and white
    Two Thousand Maniacs!: 1.78.1 widescreen, color
    Moonshine Mountain: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    Color Me Blood Red: 1.85.1 widescreen, color
    Something Weird: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    The Gruesome Twosome: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    A Taste Of Blood: 1.85.1 widescreen, color
    She-Devils On Wheels: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    Just For The Hell Of It: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    How To Make A Doll: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    The Wizard Of Gore: 1.85.1 widescreen, color
    This Stuff’ll Kill Ya: 1.33.1 fulllframe, color
    The Gore Gore Girls: 1.78.1 widescreen, color

    The main culprit, in terms of video quality is concerned, is Moonshine Mountain. It’s presented here culled together from multiple 35mm prints of varying degrees of quality and with some scenes taken from tape sources. This was done in order to create the most complete version of the film as possible but it’s in pretty rough shape. Expect plenty of big, nasty scratches, plenty of other print damages and fairly regular frame jumps that just simply could not be eliminated. Other films in the set are also presented here as composite versions so that they’re able to be presented in their most complete form but the inserts aren’t as jarring or as frequent in any of the other movies as they are in the Moonshine Mountain presentation.

    As to the other films, print damage definitely shows up now and then. The gore films seem to look a little cleaner than the others, maybe the elements were in better shape, but each film has its share of scratches and damage. That said, it’s all very watchable. If you’re familiar with past presentations you’ll likely be quite pleased with how things shape up here in the video department. Some light noise reduction shows up in some of the films and some heavier noise reduction shows up in The Gore Gore Girls (this is the only film where, to this reviewer, it seemed obnoxious). Colors are typically good but do vary from scene to scene depending on lighting, condition of the elements and other factors. Compression artifacts and edge enhancement don’t really factor into things here at all.

    Audio is presented in English language LPCM Mono with optional subtitles presented in English only (selectable from your remote but not off of the main menu). Sound quality is fine, is low-fi in nature. Again, Moonshine Mountain does sound worse than the other movies, but it all stems back to the elements that were available here. Hiss is evident occasionally, sometimes more evident than others depending on the movie, but for the most part the tracks clear enough and properly balanced.

    The massive selection of extras is duplicated on the Blu-ray and DVD discs in the set. Here’s what to look for:

    Blood Feast/Scum Of The Earth:

    Extras start out on the first disc with an audio commentary on Blood Feast with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman. Carried over from the original Something Weird Video DVD release, if you haven’t heard this before it’s a blast. Lewis and Friedman are in fine form here, joking around a fair bit but also telling some great stories about where some of the ideas came from the effects, the cast, how Connie Mason wound up in the picture and of course, how much damn money this film made.

    Although the initial press release touted a Scum of the Earth commentary from the film’s late producer David Friedman, that has NOT been included here. We do, however, get four and a half minutes of 'Scum Clean Scenes' which are alternate takes of some of the film's stronger content shot so that it could be shown in different markets.

    In the eleven minute Blood Perceptions, filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy (who directed The Pact) and Rodney Ascher (of Room 237) talk about their affinity for Lewis’ output. McCarthy goes first, talking about how horror films escalated quite quickly in terms of their depiction of on screen violence, noting that Blood Feast opened the floodgates. Ascher talks about the film’s reputation as a bad movie, noting that it is actually a great movie, and talks up Lewis’ infamy and how his reputation only made him want to seek out more of his work. They talk up different aspects of the films – the extreme gore, the music, the surrealism inherent in some of his movie – and just generally offer up some informed and intelligent opinions on Lewis’ films, Blood Feast in particular. The best quote? “One of the most amazing things about Herschell Gordon Lewis’ movies is that they exist at all!”

    In the five minute archival piece entitled Herschell’s History the director spends five minutes talking about how he transitioned from working as a teacher to doing radio to then getting into working on live television and then ultimately film. He notes how his experience shooting commercials gave him enough experience that he could then shoot a feature, which his exactly what he did after he met David Friedman. He then shares some stories about shooting Scum Of The Earth, noting that it was a transitional picture for him and the importance of the film’s single one red frame and just as importantly, how he wanted the audience to know that what they were seeing in Blood Feast was absolutely fake (so as not to diminish its entertainment value).

    Up next, How Herschell Found His Niche sees Lewis on camera for seven minutes talking about how he and Friedman worked together on The Prime Time and how Friedman’s showmanship really brought an extra layer to the film’s success. He then talks about selling the movie one theater at a time, working together on The Adventures Of Lucky Pierre, how terrible the film was and just how well it really did for them noting that it broke the house records at its first theater after playing there for nine weeks. He then notes how budget became less of a factor for them, how they really only cared about making seventy minute features to play first at the drive-in’s, and some of the tricks that they used to do just that.

    The first disc includes another archival interview, this time featuring Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman shot together for the first time in over a decade. This was recorded on video tape in 1987 in Los Angeles. In this piece Lewis talks about what exploitation really is, Lewis’ filmmaking techniques, how he and Friedman met, how they never took filmmaking all that seriously and how they had a lot of fun together. They also share some fun stories about working in nudist colonies, how they got around various censorship issues, the circuits that Friedman frequented to get their movies shown and quite a bit more. This piece runs eighteen and a half minutes in length.

    Also on hand is an educational short film from 1959 entitled Carving Magic that features Blood Feast’s Bill Kerwin in a role. It’s a pretty goofy spot wherein some suburbanites gawk over how nicely dressed a housewife’s table is while Kerwin shows up with a turkey that is then carved – as we learn about the various cuts of meat and what they’re all about.

    A massive selection containing fifty minutes of outtakes from Blood Feast is included here, as is a Blood Feast radio spot and theatrical trailer.

    Two Thousand Maniacs!/Moonshine Mountain:

    Again, the extras on the disc start out by carrying over the audio commentary from the SWV DVD release of Two Thousand Maniacs! with Lewis and Friedman. This track is just as good as the one recorded for Blood Feast. They talk about how they came up with the idea to outdo the first gore film with this second attempt, distributing the film, some of the controversy that arose around it, casting the picture, the locations, the effects work and loads more. That same sense of camaraderie and humor that was on the first track is here as well, which makes it a lot of fun to listen to.

    Two Thousand Maniacs Can’t Be Wrong is a ten minute piece where Tim Sullivan (the director of 2001 Maniacs) talks about discovering Lewis through an issue of Fangoria and how he saw enjoying his films a ‘something you weren’t supposed to do.’ From there he talks about his appreciation of Two Thousand Maniacs!, seeing movies on 42nd Street in his younger days where he saw a double feature of Phantasm and 2001 Maniacs! He then shares some thoughts on what makes Lewis’ movie work, the importance of music in the film, what makes it enduringly popular and what he tried to bring to the table in 2004 when he remade the movie.

    Hicksploitation: Confidential is a seven minute ‘visual essay on the history of the American South’s representation in cinema’ written by Gillian Wallace Horvat and narrated by David Del Valle. Here we get a short but sweet look at the history of how the South has typically been depicted in American cinema from the era of D.W. Griffith through to more modern films, Lewis’ pictures of course included in that talk. There’s discussion of the clichés and stereotypes that are exploited in the genre, how race pictures stemmed off from the studios’ desire to not alienate black audiences, and how poverty row studios came in and filled a lot of the void for product.

    David Friedman: The Gentlemen’s Smut Peddler is a ten minute ‘tribute to the legendary producer’ that includes insight into his personality and his legacy not only from Lewis, who talks about how he met him and how they came to work together in the first place, but also from filmmakers that were clearly inspired by him such as Fred Olen Ray, Tim Sullivan and from editor/Grindhouse Films head honcho Bob Murawski (who duly notes that he tried to get Friedman mentioned in the ‘no longer with us’ section of the Oscars the year he passed away but they weren’t having any of it – at least he tried!).

    The disc also features a three minute segment called Herschell’s Art of Advertising in which Lewis gives viewers some well-informed opinions on what it takes to sell a movie the way that he did, both with and without Friedman. You could call it hucksterism, or you could just call it good salesmanship, but this is a fun little piece worth checking out.

    Moving right along, we come to sixteen minutes of Two Thousand Maniacs! Outtakes (there’s no audio for these so the soundtrack plays over top) as well as trailers for Two Thousands Maniacs! and Moonshine Mountain (that is in much nicer shape than the feature itself).

    Color Me Blood Red/Something Weird:

    Lewis and Friedman provide yet more commentary tracks, one for each of the films on this disc, that again are carried over from previous Something Weird Video DVD releases. The Color Me Blood Red track again covers all the bases – where some of the concepts came from, locations, budget, improving their craft as they went along, casting the film and more. The track for Something Weird is a little more unique, which makes sense given that the film really stands out. Here they go into quite a bit of detail about what inspired the film and why, how they tried to take things in a different direction, the psychedelic aspects of the film, box office reception to this decidedly weird effort, casting the film and lots more.

    The Art of Madness is a five minute ‘visual essay’ on ‘the recurring motif of mad artists as killers in horror cinema.’ It’s a quick piece but it makes some interesting comparisons to Lewis’ work, Color Me Blood Red in particular, to various ‘insane’ artists that have popped up in various mediums throughout history. There’s also talk about how artists’ hands tend to get them in trouble in various movies throughout history, from old Peter Lorre movies to early Oliver Stone films, how struggling painter’s tend to make Faustian bargains, and how insanity and the arts collide in films as varied as House Of Horrors to Driller Killer. This was again written by Gillian Wallace Horvat and narrated ever so dramatically by David Del Valle.

    In Weirdsville, film Scholar Jeffrey Sconce gives us ten minutes of his thoughts on Something Weird. He notes that the gore films are more accessible and immediately rewarding and how Something Weird requires more of a commitment. He then talks about how Lewis started getting very experimental in the late sixties, while still sticking around in the exploitation business. He posits that the popularity and influence of occult figures like Anton Le Vay, who were quite prominent in the late sixties, had an influence on films like Something Weird and how Lewis’ pictures influenced the slasher genre. There’s further talk of the makeup work, the techniques employed in the picture, the performances in the film and quite a bit more. Interesting stuff.

    Lewis On Jimmy, The Boy Wonder is a quick two minute piece where Lewis talks about making his 1966 children’s musical (sadly not included in this set). He talks about where the idea came from, blending live action and animation, the plotline and how important it is to maintain a sense of humor if you want to remain ‘sane and profitable’ in the film industry.

    A Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge! is Lewis’ 1966 dance short that runs about ten minutes. There’s not much to this, it’s a bunch of foxy beatnik chicks all wearin’ their smocks and shakin’ it while a bongo player goes wild and some cool daddy-o’s in suits strut alongside them. About half way in things get more interesting when one of the chicks loses her top and shakes her boobs around, which seems to inspire a series of likeminded ladies to do the same.

    Finally, we’re handed nine minutes of outtakes from Color Me Blood Red and theatrical trailers for both Color Me Blood Red, Something Weird and Jimmy The Boy Wonder!

    The Gruesome Twosome/A Taste Of Blood:

    Lewis, sans Friedman as he wasn’t involved in these two pictures, gives up a commentary for each film on the set. Mike Vraney joins in on both tracks and the two cover all the bases you’d expect given past Lewis tracks. On The Gruesome Twosome they talk about how Lewis got the funding for the film, what he tried to do different with this one compared to earlier efforts, locations, how the filmmaking scene had changed for Lewis since he started shooting features earlier in the decade and, probably most importantly, how and why the movie was made to be intentionally comedic. On A Taste Of Blood we hear Lewis talk about how he was experimenting with different styles and genres in an attempt to keep trying to come up with fresh, new material to exploit. They also talk about the cast, which is quite interesting as this particular film has a lot of one shots popping up in it. Of course, there’s also some discussion about the influence of Dracula on the film, the locations and the final product.

    Moving on to the featurettes, in Peaches Christ Flips her Wig! the San Francisco performer gives us her thoughts on The Gruesome Twosome for ten minutes. She does the piece in full drag, talking up her experiences growing up in Maryland where there was a video store that would rent kids anything they wanted to see. This led to discovering Lewis’ films, and a ‘safe way’ to exorcise certain fantasies in regards to how to deal with bullies and survive in life!

    In It Came From Florida is an eleven minute long interview with filmmaker Fred Olen Ray who talks about growing up in Florida and the filmmaking scene that existed there, including Lewis’ Color Me Blood Red. He notes that there wasn’t much of a scene there in the sixties and how exciting it was that Lewis shot there. He also talks about a tax shelter that was put in place that certain filmmakers took advantage of and shares some amusing stories about occasionally meeting someone who had been involved in one of these low budget local productions.

    Herschell vs The Censors is an eight minute piece wherein Lewis discusses some of the censorship issues he had to deal with over his career. He talks about the difficulties of a pre-MPAA world where censorship was all done at a local level. This meant that restrictions differed depending on territory. He talks about taking advantage of the gradually relaxing worlds, dealing with church groups that didn’t like his films, and how the bad publicity always worked to his advantage.

    Last but not least, we get trailers for The Gruesome Twosome and A Taste Of Blood and some radio spots for The Gruesome Twosome (double featured with Something Weird).

    She-Devils On Wheels/Just For The Hell Of It:

    The audio commentary from the Something Weird Video DVD release of She-Devils on Wheels with Lewis and Vraney is thankfully carried over here to this Blu-ray debut for the film. Lewis talks about working with the various players involved in the film and has quite a few fun anecdotes to share in that regard, but he also talks about the trickiness involved in shooting a lot of motorcycles, some of the stunts and fight sequences and the locations. Like the rest of the commentary tracks that Lewis has done, either with Friedman or Vraney alongside, it’s informative, occasionally funny and always interesting.

    Featurettes? Yes! The Shocking Truth! is a ten minute piece where Bob Murawski talks about how he discovered the films of H.G. Lewis, and how he came to appreciate the man’s style. He talks about the humor in his films as well as the how before everything was online and available on video, tracking down information on Lewis was a bit of a challenge. It’s a nice appreciation piece. Murawski knows what he’s talking about and he shares some valid insight into what makes Lewis’ movies so appealing to cult film fans. Lots of great archival stills and pictures pop up here as well.

    In Garage Punk Gore filmmaker and musician Chris Alexander discusses the films and music of Herschell Gordon Lewis for just over nine minutes. He makes some interesting observations about how music is used throughout the man’s filmography, talks about some of the songs that Lewis wrote himself often out of budgetary necessity, and a fair bit more.

    Lewis On His 1968 Film The Alley Tramp is a three minute piece that sees Lewis talk about how this was not his movie, how it belonged to Tom Dowd who was just starting to shoot his own movies and how Lewis worked for him as a cameraman. He then shares some stories about casting the film and how it cashed in on the ‘coming of age’ trend. It would have been pretty cool to see the feature itself included here but that didn’t happen. Maybe if there’s a second collection we’ll be so lucky!

    A She-Devils On Wheels radio spot and trailers for She-Devils On Wheels and for Alley Tramp close out the disc.

    How To Make A Doll/The Wizard Of Gore:

    For The Wizard Of Gore commentary, Lewis is joined by SWV head honcho Mike Vraney for a pretty revelatory discussion about the history of the movie, his penultimate gore film, and its place in Lewis' filmography. Highlights include the casting of Montag and the difficulties involved in that process, what it was like putting together the various gore scenes used in the movie, the big finish involving a sheep's carcass that never came to be, locations, effects, response to the movie and what the market was like at the time it was made.

    From there, check out Stephen Thrower On The Wizard Of Gore. Here the author of Nightmare USA spends ten minutes talking about his thoughts on the film, noting that it was the first gore film Lewis had made in a few years. From there he goes on to put the film into context alongside his other pictures, talks up some of the performances and set pieces and gives his thoughts on the picture itself. Along the way he offers up plenty of interesting facts about the film’s history, locations and origins.

    Also be sure to check out Montag Speaks, which is a brand new twenty minute interview with Wizard Of Gore actor Ray Sager who prefaces everything by stating that what he’s about to say is ‘mostly true.’ From there we’re treated to an excellent piece where the actor talks about how he got involved with Lewis, what it was like working with the guy, what Allison Louise Downe brought to some of the films he was involved in (he describes her as Herschell’s right hand woman), how Colonel Sanders is connected to all of this and loads more. Lots of great stories here about the different Lewis projects he was involved in over the years all told with a knowing sense of humor and wit.

    The Gore The Merrier is a seven minute interview with Jeremy Kasten, director of the 2007 Wizard Of Gore remake who talks about the blood thirst inherent in humanity, how gore and humor can often times go hand in hand and from there how he got into Lewis’ movies, his thoughts on the man’s films, how it used to be quite tough to find them and then, of course, how he came to remake Wizard years later.

    The highlight of the extras on this disc, however, is the inclusion of The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Herschell Gordon Lewis “The Godfather of Gore” which is a forty minute episode of the Jonathan Ross-hosted television series. Obviously the focus here is on Lewis’ filmography and here we get some great dialogue with Ross going one on one with Lewis as well as interviews with David F. Friedman, actor Bill Kerwin, John Waters and a few others. There are loads of clips from various Lewis efforts in here and even if everything covered here is covered elsewhere in the set, this is a blast to watch.

    A trailer for The Wizard of Gore rounds out the extras on this disc.

    This Stuff’ll Kill Ya!/The Gore Gore Girls:

    The first of two audio commentary tracks on the disc carried over from the Something Weird discs is on This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! and provided by camera operator and Lewis biographer Daniel Krogh (author of the book The Amazing Herschell Gordon Lewis). While it would have maybe been a better track if SWV had been able to sit Lewis and Krogh together for the talk, Krogh has no trouble flying solo. He talks about what wound up seeing the movie being shot in Oklahoma as opposed to the actual south where it’s set, some of the logistical problems involved in shooting car chases on a micro-budget and how some of the cast members that pop up in the movie came on board.

    The commentary for The Gore Gore Girls covers similar territory to that covered in the other gore film tracks. Again joined by Vraney and Jimmy Maslin, Lewis is once again a veritable landslide of stories, talking about how he get into some trouble with the ratings board this time around, what he tried to do differently with this film as opposed to his other gore films, why he used certain actors and actresses in the movie and more. Throughout both tracks Lewis has got a great sense of humor about his work, never afraid to make a joke at his own expense or share a story that may not necessarily win him any accolades (he's quite honest about the quality of these movies and that they were a money making endeavor, not high art) and he is a blast to listen to.

    Stephen Thrower On The Gore Gore Girls is another featurette wherein Thrower offers up his thoughts on another of Lewis’ pictures. This piece runs sixteen minutes and it is once again a nice mix of critical analysis, trivia and insight. He notes that this is his favorite of Lewis’ films because it feels similar to a giallo (and then goes on to back that comparison up), makes some observations about the quality of the acting in the film compared to some of his other pictures, talks up some of the murder set pieces and gore sequences and more.

    Regional Bloodshed is a twelve minute featurette where filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons talk about the regional flavor that is a big part of what makes Lewis’ films as interesting as they are. They also discuss how his work on The Gore Gore Girls is representative of what was happening on the cinematic landscape in American films of the seventies, how things were getting more experimental and transgressive at times. They make some interesting comparisons here to the work done around the same time by Warhol and John Waters and talk about how Lewis really did look at all of this as business rather than as art.

    In the four minute Herschell Spills His Guts, Lewis himself talks about how The Gore Gore Girls was supposed to be his last film and why he wound up leaving the film industry after he was finished with it. He notes that there are no secrets in the business, noting that everyone knows if you’re a success or a flop, talking about how Peckinpah’s work was outdoing anything he could possibly come up with and how he made the shift over to marketing and advertising work.

    Rounding out the extras on this disc is a trailer for This Stuff’ll Kill Ya.

    Each movie in the set also gets a newly shot introduction featuring Lewis himself. These are fairly brief, generally running a minute or two, but in each piece he gives us a quick rundown of what the movie is about, it’s significance in his career and other bits and pieces of trivia.

    However, that’s not all. This set includes an additional two bonus Blu-rays that contain high definition presentations of Blood Feast, Scum Of The Earth and Color Me Blood Red on one disc and A Taste Of Blood and The Wizard Of Gore on a second disc in 1.33.1 fullframe. Each of these bonus discs is a 50GB disc and the films get AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfers with LPCM Mono audio. There are no extras on either disc but optional English subtitles are provided.
































    If you compare the screen caps above to the screen caps below, you’ll notice that not only does the aspect ratio change but the colors do too. When the earlier Lewis Blu-ray releases came out and where widescreen presentations, some fans complained – now you’ve got options. Never a bad thing.

    Also contained in the set is a Blu-ray disc containing the 2010 feature length documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore, directed by Frank Henenlotter and Jimmy Maslon. SWV made this available on its own back in 2011 but including it here was absolutely the right decision as it’s an excellent companion piece to this set. While much of the ground that it covers is also covered in the commentary tracks, this is a comprehensive look at pretty much everything that Lewis touched (sans some certain ‘lost films’ and a few of his later pictures like The Uh-Oh Show.

    Lewis himself is interviewed on camera extensively about his life and times but also on hand are Friedman, Krogh and Henenlotter as well as such awesome interviewees as Lewis super fans John Waters and Joe Bob Briggs, cast members Mal Arnold and Ray Sager and lots more. There’s also a ton of archival material used throughout the feature such as stills and promotional images and plenty of clips from various Lewis films. It’s briskly paced, very informative and often times quite funny. It’s presented in 1080i high definition.

    Most of the extras that were on that original DVD release are here too – over an hour of deleted scenes and trailer for the feature itself. The bonus trailers for other Lewis films have been left off as has the short film called A Hot Night At The Go Go Lounge and the still gallery.

    The Final Word:

    The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast boxed set is an amazing achievement. While it’s true that some of the movies look better than others, most of the material here is in great shape (and for a few of the films we get two aspect ratio choices). On top of that, there are tons of extras here, some old and some new, and it’s just an insanely loving tribute to the world that Lewis created. Highest possible recommendation!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




































































































































































































    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      That is a MONSTER fuckin review. Great work!
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Ha, thanks. I spent way too much time on this.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Nice indepth review, Ian! I'm desperately looking forward to getting my blood-stained mitts on this set.
    1. Clive Smith's Avatar
      Clive Smith -
      Wow! That was a lot of work - well done!
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      Geez! Did ya take a day off work to get this done??
    1. Jens Thomsen's Avatar
      Jens Thomsen -
      Great review, Ian! Have to admit, I am still wondering whether to cancel the pre-order of the Shock and Gore edition and just get the regular Feast edition. Of the exclusive extras, I am really only interested in the Stephen Thrower book. And with the recent price dump on amazon.co.uk, I am starting to think it is a bit too much to pay for 92 pages, probably filled with stills, too.
    1. Mark C.'s Avatar
      Mark C. -
      As always Ian, great review!
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      I love HGL himself but a lot of his film work is awful and not in a fun way either. No disrespect to his fanbase.

      I absolutely adore Wizard of Gore and Gore Gore Girls though.