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Herschell Gordon Lewis

  • 88
  • June 15, 1929 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Only one film-maker can claim the title "Godfather of Gore." That peculiar but apt identification seems to be the exclusive property of Herschell Gordon Lewis. With an unusual background that included teaching English Literature to college students, producing and directing television commercials, and voicing radio and television commercials, Herschell literally - and single-handedly - established the "Splatter Film" category of motion pictures. He accomplished this by writing and directing (including the musical score) a mini-budget movie titled "Blood Feast," shot in Miami in 1963 and released theatrically the following year. As critics lambasted the primitive effects and inattention to script and sub-par acting, audiences flocked to theaters to see why friends who had reacted to the movie's fiery marketing campaign had said, "You gotta see this." Armed with boxoffice grosses, Herschell and his producer-partner David Friedman quickly decided to build onto their newly-discovered base. Herschell wrote and directed "Two Thousand Maniacs." The lead singer of the musical group hired to perform background music had a tenor voice. Herschell had written the title song, "The South Gonna Rise Ag'in." He wanted a baritone, and without hesitation he made the switch: the voice on the sound track is his. After their third splatter film, "Color Me Blood Red," David Friedman moved to California, engaging in a different type of motio0n picture. Herschell continued to grind out one success after another, with titles such as "The Gruesome Twosome," "The Wizard of Gore," and "The Gore-Gore Girls." When major film companies began to invade his splatter-turf, Herschell took a hiatus, shifting full time to his "other career," writing advertising and mailings for marketers worldwide. He became one of a handful of experts to be inducted into the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame. (Author of 32 books on marketing including the classic "On the Art of Writing Copy," Herschell is often called on to lecture on copywriting, just as he is invited to sing the theme from "Two Thousand Maniacs" at horror film festivals.) Over the years, an unusual reality came into place: Herschell's old films continued to play not just on TV screens but in theatres, years after conventional movies would have disappeared altogether. The result has been renewal of his life as a film director. Thus it is that a new Herschell Gordon Lewis movie is hoving into view: "Herschell Gordon Lewis's BloodMania," produced by James Saito in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and planned for 2015 release. Both the producer and the director encapsulate their opinion of "Herschell Gordon Lewis's BloodMania" in a single word: Enthusiastic. HGB Entertainment Ltd.

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