RIP Herschell Gordon Lewis (1929-2016)

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Herschell Gordon Lewis, the influential exploitation and horror filmmaker who was nicknamed “The Godfather of Gore”, passed away today. He was 87 years old.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1929, Lewis would become a legend among gorehounds and splatterpunks with the release of 1963’s Blood Feast. The film is considered the first gore movie, with animal offal used to simulate human body parts. It was the first entry in The Blood Trilogy, a trio of bloody messes which included Color Me Blood Red (1964) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1965). (As an odd sidenote, Two Thousand Maniacs would inspire the name of the band 10,000 Maniacs.)

Other Lewis movies of note include A Taste of Blood (1967), The Gruesome Twosome (1967), The Wizard of Gore (1970), and The Gore Gore Girls (1972). In addition to these gory horror films, Lewis also made a few softcore nudie cuties a la Russ Meyer. What Meyer was to breasts, Lewis was to gore.

I still recall being a high school kid in the 90s working at a video store and learning about Lewis from one of my co-workers. While making his landmark gore films in the 60s, Lewis would have a car trunk full of butcher shop organs ready for a scene. It’d reek like hell on a hot day. (They’d use burnt coffee grounds to help deaden the smell of rotting meat.) His films may not have been polished, but they had a kind of rollicking madness to them–cheap thrills, made quick, and bloody. Every now and then I hum the tune to Two Thousand Maniacs! for kicks.

Flixist sends our condolences to the Lewis family and his loved ones.

[via Variety]

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.