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Interviewed by Derek Carlson, staff writer of The Video Graveyard.

A few weeks ago Chris asked me if I'd like to do an article on Herschell Gordon Lewis, knowing how big a fan of his work I am (I've had countless numbers of all-night H.G. Lewis marathons in my time). Of course, I accepted. Then Chris said he had a better idea, why not contact the man himself for a possible interview? Needless to say, I jumped at the chance!

To anyone unfamiliar with the man nicknamed "The Godfather Of Gore", Herschell Gordon Lewis' landmark horror film, 1963's Blood Feast, was the first to introduce graphic gore to cinema - paving the way for many imitators but never duplicators. An H.G. Lewis flick is one of a kind, whether it be a gory bloodbath or a down 'n' dirty tale of juvenile delinquency. No matter the budget, no matter the premise, a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie is always a blast and guaranteed to entertain.

After 1972's The Gore Gore Girls, Mr. Lewis seemed to put away the ol' director's chair and became quite the acclaimed author on direct mail marketing and copywriting. The Godfather Of Gore's cinematic comeback came after a thirty year absense from the horror scene with 2002's stellar Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, the sequel to the one that started it all, showing all the newcomers how it's really done!

Mr. Lewis was gracious enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us. It was an honour. Enjoy!


First off, I must say I really enjoyed Blood Feast 2. It was a little weird at first, watching an H.G. Lewis flick made in the 21st Century but all those H.G. Lewis signatures were there. Was it as effortless as it looked getting back into the director's chair after a 30 year absence?

It was as though I'd never been away. The exhilaration at the first "roll sound" was a renewal, and I hadn't forgotten which lenses to use from what camera position.

What's most notable about seeing Blood Feast 2 and an H.G. Lewis flick these days is that sort of playfulness you inject into your pictures. It looks disgusting but the overall tone of your films isn't a mean spirited tone. Do you think a lot of the gore filmmakers over time that were obviously influenced by your pictures have sort of missed that aspect?

What an astute question! My films were and are designed as camp, and when I see the deadly seriousness infecting so many of today's films I wonder whether these producers and directors are more interested in proving their own professionalism or salving their own egos than they are in entertaining the audiences.

By introducing graphic gore to cinema, you were obviously going to set off a cycle of imitators and filmmakers trying to out-do what was done before. There's almost even a whole genre of film now devoted just to show one shocking scene after another to disgust and offend the viewer. Are there any movies out there that have shocked the "Godfather Of Gore" and do you ever think to yourself "Maybe that a was a can of worms I should have never opened?"

The answer is a resounding "Yes", not for shock but for intended shock but I'm disinclined to make a comment others may regard as competitive.

Back in the drive-in heyday of the 60's and 70's there were a lot of great do-it-yourself horror filmmakers out there such as Ted V. Mikels, Al Adamson, Ray Dennis Steckler and yourself who made these crazy movies about gruesome-twosomes, corpse grinders, thrill killers, etc all with limited budgets. Maybe not a lot of horror fans know this but you even scored a lot of your own movies yourself. Is that DIY attitude and wild sense of imagination something you feel that's missing in today's horror?

I don't think producers and directors should get "DIY" awards. I do think one of the nasty evolutionary (or devolutionary) trends is dependence on artifice. Moviegoers are so used to morphing and other electronic effects they're becoming bored by them, as witness Van Helsing and the Matrix movies. What film-makers should be thinking is, "How can I maximize audience reaction within the budget I have?" If that question has no answer, don't make the movie.

Most horror fans associate the name Herschell Gordon Lewis with pictures like Blood Feast and Wizard Of Gore but many don't know you've made a lot of other movies that are quite different from that - everything from the wife-swapping Suburban Roulette to the children's flick The Magic Land Of Mother Goose. Is there a certain type of movie you preferred to make the most? Any film you are most proud of?

I never have wavered in regarding 2000 Maniacs! as my personal favorite. If we produce Grim Fairy Tale (possibly retitled "Uh-oh!") my opinion might change, because this new script matches 21st century attitudes against black humor.

I never had any thought of making a drawing room comedy or a historical film because with the kind of budgets I had and no star-name value, I knew such a film couldn't get a decent playoff. Oh, if a major studio offered me a project with a major budget, I'd grab it regardless of what type of film it might be.

Companies like Something Weird, Anchor Bay, Blue Underground, Image, etc have been taking full advantage of the DVD medium in unleashing new and classic horror titles to the hungry fans in their uncut format. Do you think the future of horror lies in the hands of DVD? I mean She-Devils On Wheels was released on DVD before Schindler's List!

I can only opine: The future lies in condensed audiences, from multi-screen theatres with few seats to home viewing. The big single-screen theatres are dinosaurs. That's sad, because much is to be said for the emotional contagion of an audience reaction.

What's next on the slab for Herschell Gordon Lewis? I keep hearing about a sequel to 2000 Maniacs!, 2001 Maniacs, being produced by Eli Roth's (director of Cabin Fever) production company. Is that something you have a hand in?

I had no involvement in 2001 Maniacs. The producers did make a deal with me to use the theme music, but someone else will sing it.

Any other H.G. Lewis classics getting a DVD release in the near future? Possibly Moonshine Mountain? I'm having an impossible time trying to find a copy of that movie!

Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video has, I'm told, a beat-up print of Moonshine Mountain. Like you, I'm eager to see that old favorite again, but it depends on his ability and willingness to invest in restoration of an old film.

Thank you for taking the time to sit down and do this. Any last words for the fans out there?

Just this: I love you all for making this interview possible. I had thought, some years ago, that my moment in the sun had gone into eclipse. Thank you for proving me wrong.


If you'd like more info on H.G. Lewis and his career go to his Official Website.

Images are by Herschell Gordon Lewis