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‘BloodMania’ Review: Gore Is Gorgeous

The final film from Herschell Gordon Lewis will not win over new fans but will satiate the lust of obsessives hungry for more from The Godfather of Gore.
By  · Published on June 7th, 2017

The final film from Herschell Gordon Lewis will not win over new fans but will satiate the lust of obsessives hungry for more from The Godfather of Gore.

The only line of trivia listed on IMDB for BloodMania is that 18 gallons of blood were used during filming. I know what you’re thinking, “only 18 gallons?” That does seem a little light for a Herschell Gordon Lewis production. After all, The Godfather of Gore made his name on a torrent of splatstick grotesques with glistening wet titles like Color Me Blood Red, A Taste of Blood, and Blood Feast. Well, HGL only directed two of the segments in this anthology film, while Melanie Reinboldt and Kevin Littlelight direct the other two. So, those 18 gallons had to be allotted for HGL’s tales, right? Sure, Reinboldt and Littlelight don’t skimp on the gruesome, but it’s in The Wizard of Gore’s pieces where we’re bathed in red carnage. 18 gallons for 35 minutes of footage feels in keeping with history. Yeah.

BloodMania operates like a more degenerate Tales From The Crypt or a hate-fueled Twilight Zone. After an opening credits sequence that sees its stars paraded over a series of VHS box covers, and a bobbling Herschell Gordon Lewis head bounces over the lyrics to “Gore Gore On The Floor,” the man himself steps into frame. The Gorefather acts as host for the audience, welcoming us into this peculiar world, and laying on puns that the Cryptkeeper wouldn’t touch. He bemoans the true horror of Hollywood producers always on the hunt for hooks, but promises us that they’ll get their money’s worth with this first story about a guy who’s “hooked on hooks.”

It will not take you long to decide if BloodMania is your type of film or not. Recently released on Amazon Prime, if you’re mad enough to click on the title, and manage to make it through the first segment, then congratulations are due; you’re one of the converted. The story of Brewster Bricabrac (Roger LeBlanc) and his sentient hook hand conspirator is honestly just an excuse to watch a bumbling murderer accidently maim himself in flight from the law, and the Live Action 5 Newscam. By story end every limb will be pierced, eyeballs will be gorged, legs will be steamrolled, and guts ruptured.

Why would you want to watch that? It’s a question I’m asked often, and sometimes I ask myself. The first time I had to come up with an answer was back in 1998 when my father saw his layabout son parked on his couch reading an issue of Fangoria magazine sporting the infamous exploding girl’s head from Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond. I’ll never forget his guttural spew of disgust, “Why would you read that?” I probably just shrugged my shoulders at him, or whimpered an “I dunno.” But that moment did spark an internal struggle for an answer.

I love gore. I LOVE it. I’m never simply satisfied with a shoot-out. John Wick may be popping heads left and right, but I always want to see more than just a pink mist – I want the brains. A headshot dribble just doesn’t get the juices flowing like an erupting latex melon packed with gelatin scraps and Karo syrup. Uh huh, that’s messed up.

When Roger LeBlanc’s leaking Brewster Bricabrac stumbles through the horrified suburbs as a neighborhood dogs lick up the meat chunks trailing behind, the giggles that escape my supposedly civilized cranium would certainly disgust most of my family and friends. But that’s kinda the appeal too. The “Gore is Gorgeous” revelry of Herschell Gordon Lewis is an antagonistic lash out at the society us proud weirdos feel rejected from. Rejoicing in the gross was one of my first acts of rebellion, my first stab at self-respect through anti-establishment. Your disgust at violence is a badge of pride for me. Is that a mature philosophy? Naw, but it’s honest.

Herschell Gordon Lewis was obviously out there to skewer contemporary culture, and have a hoot while doing it. He aimed his revulsion towards our rabid desire for tertiary sound bites and retweets; we once strived for fifteen minutes, but now we’ll settle for a selfie and 142 characters.  BloodMania is not interested in the subtly of Rod Serling, but we’re here for the blunt instrument of the meat tenderizer anyway. He never lost the demonic glee of an anarchist, and right up until the end of his life, he pursued the delights of button-pushing.

It’s impossible to watch BloodMania and not pine for more Herschell Gordon Lewis. Reinboldt and Littlelight succeed more or less in capturing the bloody hijinks of the man above the title, but they’re contributions allow for radical tonal shifts where HGL would stay the course. This is the final send off to one of cinema’s great underground imps. Here is a mad court jester prancing violently against the social norms, a tyrant of bad taste who joyfully endeavored to abuse your gag reflex. He was a rebellious creative who challenged other self-described freaks to rise to the bottom of the barrel. Eli Roth, step up your game.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)