Herschell Gordon Lewis

hg lewis campaign

Two genre film legends are involved in new projects trying to raise money via Indiegogo, the major crowdfunding site that isn’t Kickstarter. Rather than pick only one of them and then wait a week to maybe write up the other, I decided to throw them together. Besides, those of you who are interested in one are likely interested in the other, too. And when dealing with low-budget masters like Herschell Gordon Lewis and Roger Corman, it’s appropriate to be efficient. Lewis’s project is called Zombificador, and it’s an anthology featuring five connected stories involving “big fat monsters with the ability of transforming people into savage creatures, to human-sized mutant bugs, along with talking puppets and silent psycho killers.” It’s promised to be the “goriest and grossest movie ever” from the 83-year-old director (best known for cult classics Two Thousand Maniacs!, Blood Feast and Monster a-Go Go), which is saying a lot. If you’re not familiar with the “Godfather of Gore,” you can read up on his significance and lesser-known work in Rob’s recent review of his lost films.

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ds hg lewis lost films

It’s not uncommon for film directors to find themselves categorized into a specific niche, but it’s almost always interesting (and occasionally fun) to see their attempts at operating outside those expectations. Herschell Gordon Lewis‘ career has seen him work in all manner of genres, but the perception of him as “the wizard of gore” remains. Films like Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, The Gore Gore Girls and others have made H.G. Lewis synonymous with goofy, technicolor blood baths. But he also had a softer, dirtier side made evident through a series of T&A films produced both before and after his horror flicks. Fans are aware of most of them, but three were thought lost to history… until now. Vinegar Syndrome is a brand spanking new specialty label, and their debut release is as important and well-crafted as any label could hope for. The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis collects three films from 1969-1971, all lovingly restored in HD, and while they’re not for everyone completists and fans of Lewis will find a lot to love here.

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“Deep down inside, you’re dirty. Do you hear me, dirty? You’re damaged goods, and this is a fire sale.” These vile sentences shouted out by modeling agency owner Mr. Lang (Lawrence Aberwood) during the heated climax of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s 1963 nudie-cutie Scum of the Earth reflect not only the understandable fear felt by naïve model Kim (Allison Louise Downe) who is begging the depraved Mr. Lang for her naked pictures, but also the real life fear of being exposed against your will. Exploitation films of any era depict society’s underbelly, offering viewers a voyeuristic look at a frightening world. Just like with horror, these films show truly discomforting subject through a lens of entertainment. The exploitation films of the 1960s toyed with taboos and boundaries in a way never seen in films before or since. With the evolution of cinema road shows and drive-ins, teens and adults had more freedom when it came to viewing films out of the reach of the slowly imploding Hays Code. This was the time of gore, sex, drugs, and unabashed pleasure in film. The country was coming out of the Cold War and heading straight for Vietnam. This was the time for society reflection, and filmmakers were more than happy to give violence-hungry audiences something to chew on.

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Criterion Files

Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. Island of Lost Souls. The Most Dangerous Game. The Night of the Hunter. The Blob. For a company perhaps best known for releasing pristine editions of international arthouse classics, The Criterion Collection certainly has a healthy amount of cult films in its repertoire. Cult cinema is often a difficult beast to recognize, for such films avoid the roads best travelled in their journey towards recognition and renown. Unlike seminal films in the collection including The 400 Blows, 8 ½, or Rashomon, cult films aren’t typically met with immediate cultural or institutional recognition upon release, aren’t made by internationally-recognized talent, and don’t always have an immediately traceable history of influence. That is, however, what makes cult films so interesting and so valuable: they emerge without expectation or pretense and signal the most populist and anti-elite means by which a film can gain recognition, pointing to the fact that there are always valuable films potentially overlooked between the pages of history. Herk Harvey’s low-budget drive through horror masterpiece Carnival of Souls (1962), like many cult films, emerged into the top tier of film culture in some of the unlikeliest of ways. Harvey was an industrial and educational filmmaker; the $33,000 Carnival was his only feature work. The film had ten minutes lobbed off of it for its drivethru run to fit more screenings, and was largely a non-event when it first graced American screens. Carnival’s success is owed mostly to genre film festivals, late-night television […]

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This Indonesian horror flick/gorefest stays reliably within the comfortable realm of predictability, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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