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Herschell Gordon Lewis (1926 - )

Related: exploitation film - exploitation film - Blood Feast (1963) - Something Weird (1967)

Poster for The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961) - H.G. Lewis
image sourced here.


Herschell Gordon Lewis (born 15 June 1926, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) is a film-maker best known for creating the "splatter film" subgenre of horror. He is often called the "Godfather of Gore", though his film career included works in a range of genres including juvenile delinquent films, rural-themed comedies, and even two childrens films.

Collaborating with film producer David F. Friedman, he directed a series of nudie films in the early 1960s, before making his mark with 1963's seminal Blood Feast. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) and Color Me Blood Red (1965) followed the same bloody formula. The full-colour gore on display in these films caused a sensation, with horror film-makers throughout the world becoming eager to saturate their productions with similar shocking special effects.

He stopped working with Friedman during the 1960s, but continued to make further gore films into the 1970s. Always resourceful despite the low budgets he worked with, Lewis purchased the rights to an unfinished film and completed it himself, re-titling the film Monster A Go Go (1965). Many years later, the film gained notoriety after being shown on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 television show (it is rated the third worst film of all time at the Internet Movie Database).

He followed up with two bizarre childrens films (Jimmy the Boy Wonder (1966) and The Magic Land of Mother Goose (1967)) which were padded out to feature film length by incorporating long foreign-made cartoons. At the same time he was continuing to work in other genres, though those films quickly vanished into obscurity: Lewis' 1972 film Black Love, apparently a nudie film with an all African American cast, has completely disappeared. Year Of The Yahoo! (1972) was also believed lost, though a largely complete print is now available on DVD.

After The Gore Gore Girls (1972) he decided to leave the industry to work in copywriting and direct marketing. He returned to directing in 2002 with Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herschell_Gordon_Lewis [Aug 2005]

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