You’ve probably already heard the news about Herschell Lewis since we just told you, but a great deal of you may not have that close a connection to the director. His films have often been lost to history unless your a specific type of film snob for a few reasons despite the fact that he was at the forefront of low-budget horror and helped create the slasher genre. He was definitely a director for a different age.
I was introduced to Lewis in high school through random chance.
At some point during my high school years, when I was a really cool person and did cool kid things, my best friends and I went to a Blockbuster on some weekend night and wandered around until we decided to randomly pick up a movie called Blood Feast. This is totally what the cool kids did.
It was a classic early gore film and came from Herschell Lewis, who, as noted, helped usher in all slasher movies and defined one of my favorite genres of film. I knew none of this, of course, and it turned out that without the historical context the movie was actually pretty terrible on the whole. While only just over an hour long it felt like an eternity to my teenage mind. It seemed like the entire movie was shot in one room with each corner of the room decorated in a different style so as to be a different location. It’s really just bad outside of its importance as a genre creator.
And yet… it’s stuck with me for years. I still remember scenes from it. I still remember joking about it with the aforementioned idiot friends. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for a time when you wandered around a video rental store and picked up a random crap movie, but there’s something to be said about a filmmaker whose movie sticks with you for decades no matter what the reasons. Those films and moments are harder and harder to come by now for a variety of reasons, but Lewis excelled at movies that are perfect for that situation. So thank you, Mr. Lewis, for making movies.