The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Herschell Gordon Lewis Day *

* (Halloween countdown post #9/restored)


‘As a filmmaker, Herschell Gordon Lewis was a businessman above all else, and his 12-year movie career was spent either chasing or creating trends. But the one trend that he is directly responsible for — the splatter film, where Grand Guignol theater is translated to the screen for the sole purpose of allowing the viewer to ogle the dripping viscera of the human body — has endured, inspiring an entire new genre of film and breaking down the barriers of what is allowable in onscreen violence. All of Lewis’ artistic choices were made for strictly mercenary reasons, and retaining a competitive edge over Hollywood was prime consideration. In simply showing more onscreen than other filmmakers would dare, Lewis inadvertently created a monster that still stomps messily among us and influenced American culture (popular and otherwise) forever.

‘His film career began one day when he was complaining to an associate at his ad agency that the only way to make real money in the business was to shoot features. When the man asked why he just didn’t make one, Lewis realized he didn’t have an answer, and the seeds for The Prime Time were sown. Lewis produced but did not direct this inaugural project, a mildly sleazy melange of juvenile delinquency and beatnik jive, and his experiences with the film encouraged him to take the reins of further productions. He was dismayed by what he considered to be unnecessary wasting of time and resources while the picture was made, and he was determined to trim every financial corner in hopes of larger profits. He debuted as a director with Living Venus, notable primarily for introducing Harvey Korman in his first feature film role.

‘Around this time he went into partnership with David F. Friedman, an ex-carny and road show man who had the background and instincts to help exploit Lewis’ films to their utmost potential. They wasted no time in jumping into the nudie film business, producing low-budget product for display at striptease clubs. The Adventures of Lucky Pierre cost only 7,500 dollars to make and was a hit, a silly burlesque-style rip-off of Russ Meyer’s The Immoral Mr. Teas. The pair then turned to nudist colony films, one of the few ways that filmmakers could legitimately show skin in those stringent times. Their films were successful enough, but both Lewis and Friedman were hungry for something that could separate them from the rest of the pack. While watching a gangster film one night on television, Lewis noticed that a character’s bullet-riddled body barely bled, and a brainstorming session with Friedman led to a whole new genre of film.

‘While blood had been shown onscreen before in other non-Hollywood productions, no one had devised a film that would focus directly on the carnage, with scene after scene of graphic, stomach-churning mayhem as the sole point of the show. The gimmick was something that might give the filmmakers an edge over their competition. After wrapping up their nudist colony epic Bell, Bare and Beautiful, the two were inspired by the Egyptian facade of the hotel they were staying at and developed a script on the spot about a sinister caterer who collects body parts for use at a feast designed to raise an ancient Egyptian goddess from the dead. Blood Feast was completed in two days and was a hit in 1963, filling drive-ins and outraging decent citizens. Lewis and Friedman had found their cash cow and were determined to milk it.

‘They would continue down the exploitation path with 2000 Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, Alley Tramp, Monster a Go-Go!, Sin, Suffer and Repent, and Moonshine Mountain, and even tried his hand at two children’s films: Jimmy, the Boy Wonder and The Magic Land of Mother Goose. Lewis explored a number of exploitation subjects in the latter half of the 1960s, usually following proven trends in an effort to strike while the iron was hot. She-Devils on Wheels arrived early in the popular surge of motorcycle action dramas, while Blast Off Girls was a belated attempt to exploit rock & roll. Suburban Roulette was an uncharacteristically tame story of wife swapping, and Something Weird’s plot included LSD use along with witchcraft and extra sensory perception.

‘While Lewis may have been playing the field, he hadn’t given up on the gore genre completely. The bizarre horror comedy The Gruesome Twosome arrived in 1967, as did his lengthy vampire epic A Taste of Blood. But his final two horror features helped cement his legacy as the creator of gore films with an enthusiastic exclamation point. 1970’s The Wizard of Gore is a surrealistic, confounding tale of a mysterious magician who uses sleight of hand and mind control to physically tear his victims limb from limb. Even more grotesque, though, was The Gore Gore Girls (1972), a jaw-droppingly tasteless nudie-horror-comedy that found Lewis outdoing every outrage he had ever perpetrated on the audience. While the effects remained as cheap as ever, the audacious brutality and mutilations (set against corny humor and an inappropriately jolly musical score) earned The Gore Gore Girls the first X rating given solely for violence.

‘The film turned out to be the voluntary end of Lewis’ movie career. He had kept his advertising agency throughout his filmmaking years and it was flourishing, as was his expertise with copywriting. Finding it harder to outdo his fellow exploiteers as well as the more liberal Hollywood features of the time, he gave up the grind and went on to a very successful career in direct mail marketing and copywriting; indeed, the instructional tomes he’s produced on the subjects are considered essential reading for many professionals. Lewis ended up losing the rights to his films after putting them up as collateral for a car rental business venture that failed. He didn’t mourn, thinking that they weren’t worth much, but when home video exploded in the 1980s, Blood Feast found a whole new bloodthirsty audience, and as the years have progressed, Lewis’ films are more popular than ever. After years of musing over returning to the slasher genre he created, Lewis finally began production for Blood Feast 2 in 2001.

‘Herschell Gordon Lewis has never regarded himself as a great filmmaker, and it isn’t false modesty on his part that prevents him from making such a claim. His interest in a motion picture career was predicated solely on making money, something that he has always cheerfully admitted. Whether or not he succeeded to the extent that he desired is only for him to decide, but one thing is for certain, his work opened up avenues for a legion of hucksters and con artists to make millions off the cruel desires and tasteless urges of audiences.’ — Fred Beldin





Herschell Gordon Lewis Official Site
‘The Cinema of Herschell Gordon Lewis’
‘Why the Godfather of Gore came to Calgary to make his latest film
Download HGL’s films @ Something Weird
Review: ‘The Eye Popping Sounds of Herschel Gordon Lewis’
‘Herschell Gordon Lewis Returns with Anthology “BloodMania”‘
‘Splatter auteur Herschell Gordon Lewis: “I’m no artist”‘
‘Herschell Gordon Lewis and the Corpse Reviver Shot’
‘Scum of the Earth – 7 Herschell Gordon Lewis Films’
‘Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore’ @ Slant
‘Well, life is full of surprises. For all of us.’
‘Herschell Gordon Lewis may not be one of the two greatest filmmakers of all time’
‘Gore Pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis Gets His Due’
‘Dream – Herschell Gordon Lewis’ @ Arte
‘Herschell Gordon Lewis: Exploitation with a goblet of gore’
‘Master Of More Than Gore’
‘Bad Biology and Herschell Gordon Lewis’



Trailer: ‘Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore’


Herschell Gordon Lewis ‘Noise’

Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Holiday Marketing Tip


from Bright Lights Film Journal


Your background in academics was quite different from that of your partner David Friedman. Was this difference an advantage in that it allowed for two widely differing viewpoints, as far as how to market or sell a film?
The disparity of backgrounds was a heavy asset. I brought a sophisticated knowledge of advertising and communications; Dave Friedman brought a carnival barker knowledge of how to motivate people. The combination worked, and we learned from each other.

Did you ever think when you were making the now classic Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs that future filmmakers, not only those in the exploitation market, would cite your films as being influential?
I hadn’t anticipated being a footnote to motion picture history. I did realize we were producing a film of a type no one had produced before. The question was: Would any theatre play it?

Was there a particular film or even a particular scene in one of your films that really outraged the public and incurred the wrath of decency groups?
The infamous tongue scene in Blood Feast was the watershed gore scene.

Did it surprise you or does it surprise you when certain films, novels, or artworks come under fire from decency groups for containing what they consider to be extreme violence?
Decency groups don’t bother me as long as they proselytize their own followers. When they try strong-arm tactics in the mainstream, I’m very much opposed.

What did you think of the gore films of the mid-1970s and 1980s that came after Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs?
Most of the follow-up films were formulaic. I don’t sense a great deal of difference among the various Halloweens and Amityvilles and Screams, although certainly their effects far transcend any I was able to include.

Was the dialogue in your films improvised or was there always a complete script that you adhered to?
After Blood Feast the films were scripted. This was self-protection to assure minimal film wastage.

When looking back to your films, are you ever surprised that you were ale to get so much from relatively small budgets?
I’m not at all surprised that I could get so much from a small budget. My rules were absolute: 1. Don’t shoot a rehearsal. 2. Make do. 3. Don’t quit for the day until you’ve shot every scheduled scene.

Did the small budgets inspire you to become more creative in the setting up of scenes, camerawork, special effects, etc.?
Yes, small budgets were the driver, forcing us to substitute imagination for dollar expenditure.

Does it surprise you when serious, or if you want to use the word “highbrow,” film journals such as Cahiers du Cinema discuss or profile your career and your films?
I once was nonplussed that serious publications took my work seriously. I no longer am, because I see the profound effect our early films had on film production.

Do you see filmmaking as an artform, as something to be taken seriously?
I see filmmaking as a business and pity anyone who regards it as an artform and spends money based on that immature philosophy.

Do you think that all works of art must contain exploitation elements?
Art is in the eye of the beholder. It isn’t necessary for all art to include exploitation materials, but certainly it’s necessary to include devices that seize and control attention from the target-group the artist is trying to reach.

How do you think the independent film market has changed since the days when you were an independent? Has it changed for the better?
The independent film market no longer exists. The industry is an Arabian bazaar, with nonaffiliated producers clamoring for attention along with the major studios. The successful independent invariably sells his/her product to a major company or direct to cable.

Just For the Hell of It (1968) is considered to be one of the most disturbing and violent juvenile delinquent films ever made, two years before Clockwork Orange was released. Were comparisons ever made between the two, and what did you think of A Clockwork Orange?
I never have drawn a parallel between Just For the Hell of It and A Clockwork Orange. Many feel A Clockwork Orange is pompous and obscure; I don’t…and I love Beethoven’s music.

A number of your films contain the theme or subject of psychic phenomena as well as witchcraft and magic or what you might term occult subjects. Are these subjects that are of interest to you?
I’m mildly interested in psychic phenomena but am no fanatic. I’d be delighted if some sort of proof ever came to light.

Who are some of your favorite directors? And what are some of your favorite films?
I admire the Coen Brothers and like just about every film they’ve made.

In films like Color Me Blood Red (1965) and even The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961), you poke fun at the pretensions of art and the world of art. Are you suspicious of the intentions of filmmakers who try to package exploitation as art?
I think I’ve answered that question. Yes, I’m suspicious of filmmakers who regard themselves as artists and auteurs.

How did you respond to critics who viewed your films as bizarre, either in content or style?
I don’t regard having a film called “bizarre” as an insult. If a critic offers that comment, I’d thank him for it.


16 of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s 38 films

Blood Feast (1963)
‘Groundbreaking in so many evil ways, Blood Feast is the simple tale of an insane Miami resident who kills women in putrid manners, in hopes of resurrecting an Egyptian goddess. Yes, it’s a load of narrative malarkey, yet Lewis’ one-note flick is charmingly despicable. It took some major balls to make a gross-out of this kind back in ’63, and Blood Feast doesn’t shy away from its vileness; the film’s most memorable (for all the wrong reasons) image is that of the antagonist pulling a hot blonde’s tongue right out of her throat. It’s a moment akin to the moon landing for gore-hounds.’ — Complex


the entire film


Scum of the Earth (1963)
‘The film truly belongs to Lawrence Wood, who plays Mr. Lang with such an insane joy that it’s impossible not to root for the sleazy old pornographer. Whether he’s giggling as a toy monkey somersaults across his desk or he’s politely explaining why nothing is actually his fault, Wood appears to be having such a good time that it’s just infectious. Wood’s best moment comes when Kim expresses some reluctance about modeling for more pictures and suddenly, Mr. Lang starts to shout at her about how she (and all the other kids) are hypocrites. “You’re damaged merchandise and this is a fire sale!” he shouts as sweat streams down his face and Lewis zooms in for a close up of his mouth, “You’ll do what I tell ya!” Wood screams, “Do you hear!?” It’s a scene of lunatic genius that, in the best tradition of both Herschell Gordon Lewis and the grindhouse in general, comes out of nowhere and is all the more effective because of it.’ —




Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
‘While Two Thousand Maniacs! may not be as rudely in-your-face as Blood Feast, it is a much more accomplished and effective picture, one which still has the power to make first-time viewers squirm uncomfortably in their seats. Essentially a macabre version of Brigadoon, Two Thousand Maniacs! sees the southern residents of Pleasant Valley seeking vengeance for Civil War atrocities by capturing two carloads of northerners and subjecting them to a variety of ingenious and stomach-turning tortures. Among the grisly highlights are a blonde sexpot (SHELBY LIVINGSTON) having her thumb sliced off by a muscle-bound hayseed, after which the demented townsfolk treat her wound by chopping off her entire arm! While her arm is being served up as barbecue(!), her husband JEROME EDEN is liquored up with moonshine, then drawn and quartered by four horses which gallop off in different directions.’ — Something Weird



Monster a-Go Go (1965)
‘Director Herschell Gordon Lewis needed another movie to round out a double-feature with Moonshine Mountain. So he bought Bill (The Giant Spider Invasion) Rebane’s unfinished Terror at Halfday, added a couple of extra scenes, some new dialogue, some narration, and voila – Monster A Go-Go was born. The plot, such as it is, is that an astronaut has gone missing after crash-landing in suburban Illinois. At the same time, a monster that looks suspiciously like the lost spaceman (and is highly radioactive) has been terrorizing teenagers and scaring the pants off of the locals. Scientists work to study the monster, but he escapes into the Chicago sewers, only to disappear suddenly.’ —




Color Me Blood Red (1965)
‘Though Color Me Blood Red is the least discussed of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s unofficial “Blood Trilogy” (which also includes Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs), it’s probably my favourite. It’s lighter on gore, but there’s hardly any boring filler, its concept is great (a mad artist using blood for paint), and it’s hysterical (sometimes intentionally, other times unintentionally). Best of all is its lead actor. Gordon Oas-Heim gives an outrageous performance as loony painter Adam Sorg. He shouts his way through the film with Zach Galifianakis-esque outbursts, bugged out eyes, and a sweaty forehead. He’s a wonderful thing to watch.’ — Dave Jackson


the entire film


Something Weird (1967)
‘Between the Blood Trilogy and 1970’s The Wizard of Gore, director Herschell Gordon Lewis explored a wide variety of themes outside the hard-gore arena while continuing to court viewers with the sensational and the exploitable. One of his most unusual offerings of this period was this category-defying tale from 1967. It would be too easy to simply suggest that Something Weird lives up to its title. What’s truly remarkable is that this exploration of psychic phenomena, criminology, drug therapy, and the supernatural actually manages to remain coherent throughout its running time! The concept began as a script by producer James F. Hurley, who later complained that director Lewis had compromised his serious vision. (Interestingly, Hurley’s original intent was reflected in his own subsequent film The Psychic in 1968, which utilized Lewis as cameraman. Viewing this film, one can see immediately why Lewis felt the story needed some “juicing up.”)’ — images


the entire film hosted by Joe Bob Briggs


A Taste of Blood (1967)
‘Herschell Gordon Lewis is one of my favourite directors and this was a huge let down for me. The master of gore became the master of bore in this retelling of Dracula. The pacing of this film is incredibly slow. There are many continuity errors including a chase scene where at one moment it’s midday and then suddenly it’s night and back to midday…and back to night. I thought I missed something at first and went back but no. Each scene is drawn out. A lot. I had to hold myself back from skipping through scenes. It could have easily been 40 minutes shorter. I will give him credit for trying something different from what he normally does. I think that’s important in any craft…sometimes it doesn’t work out. Skip it if you’re not a fan of HGL though.’ — Nikola Night


the entire film


The Gruesome Twosome (1967)
‘This 1967 Herschell Gordon Lewis feature has the unique distinction of having one of the most bizarre openings in low-budget horror cinema history. After editing, the film was short in length. As filler, Lewis added two wig blocks with construction paper faces talking to each other during the opening. One of the wig blocks is stabbed as blood gushes out everywhere. Even after inserting this opening sequence, the film only runs 72 minutes. Crazy Mrs. Pringle and her mentally challenged son Rodney run a wig shop near a Florida college campus. The wigs are advertised as 100 percent real human hair. The shop also rents vacant rooms to college co-eds. The renting of rooms is only a disguise for Pringle to lure young women to the shop so Rodney can scalp and murder them.’ — Plan 9 Crunch




The Girl, the Body, and the Pill (1967)
‘Always in search of uncharted exploitation territory, Lewis turns his attention this time to the then-controversial topic of birth control. Given the nature of the film, it is surprising that it contains practically no overt sexual situations beyond a couple suggestive dissolves. One of Lewis’s more multifaceted productions, The Girl, the Body, and the Pill follows the subject through multiple perspectives. We see a liberal high school teacher (Pamela Rhea) advocating for sex education as a means of promoting proper hygiene among her rapidly developing adolescent students. Her efforts to promote planned parenthood meet with fierce opposition from the school board as well as the parents of several of the students. Actually, one parent in particular, the hyperprotective puritanical father (Bill Rogers) of a virginal daughter whose boyfriend wants to go all the way, is the loudest voice to oppose such education. The film additionally follows the exploits of the school’s most promiscuous student, Randy (Nancy Lee Noble), and that of her considerably more promiscuous single mother(Valedia Hill).’ — Wikipedia




Blast-Off Girls (1967)
‘Sleazy music promoter Boojie Baker convinces a pop band to come work for him. He arranges play dates, publicity, record contracts, and the band’s loyalty by getting his hired girls to exercise their feminine charms on all who stand in his way. Thus he creates the new music sensation, The Big Blast, but the band is unhappy about Boojie keeping most of the money. When they try to leave, Boojie sets them up for trouble with the law, but offers to bail them out if they sign the contract. Can’t anyone stop this scum bucket?’ —


the entire film


She-Devils on Wheels (1968)
‘1968 saw no less than nine feature films from the prolific Herschell Gordon Lewis. Without a doubt, the best-remembered of the batch was this innovative girl gang mini-epic. Lewis didn’t invent the biker film, but the female “Man-Eaters” of She-Devils on Wheels (written by Louise Downe) were the first of their kind. The Man-Eaters live up to their name in all but the most literal fashion. Led by Queen (Betty Connell) and the huge, poetically-inclined Whitey (Pat Poston), they’re the terror of their community. To them, men are cattle–to be chosen from “stud lines” at their whim and to be tossed aside after use. Young initiate Honeypot (Nancy Lee Noble), however, hasn’t quite got the idea; she tends to stick to one particular “stud.” A challenge is set to the candidate: she’ll become a full-fledged Man-Eater once she proves her loyalty by dragging the beaten body of her beau from the back of her own motorcycle!’ — images




Just for the Hell of It (1968)
‘Hear the name Herschell Gordon Lewis, and you may picture in your mind’s eye gouts of blood and gore, intestines being dangled in front of the screen and the somewhat dubious acting skills of playmate Connie Mason. There’s a non-gore stream to the directing output of the man though, and although there is some blood right towards the end of the film, Just for the Hell of it eschews the trademark gore for the most part. What we have here is a foray into nihilistic morality and hippy-beatnik violence, which ends on quite a surprising note for a film made nearly forty years ago. For those of you with a penchant for vintage exploitation, you can do a lot worse than Just for the Hell of it. Aside from any thematic concerns, you’ve got the great sixties decor, clothes and soundtrack. After these surface thrills you can appreciate the pretty confronting violence and themes. Lewis has crafted a fairly potent essay on mindless evil, despite the sometimes clunky performances and low budget.’ — Girls Guns and Ghouls




The Wizard of Gore (1970)
‘What WIZARD OF GORE does differently than most other magic films, especially of its time, is introduce popular technology into its trickery. The titular wizard, Montag, doesn’t only mesmerize his theater audiences but those viewing at home as well, with Lewis perhaps boldly starting a ‘fear of TV’ trend that would fully manifest in later features like NETWORK (1976) and VIDEODROME (1983). That the various slayings in the film also take place in the home rather than on the stage as they appear to – or do they? – root this almost firmly in the type of home invasion/slasher feature that would become popularized in 1978 with HALLOWEEN. What Lewis’s film may lack in subtlety it makes up for in blurring lines that were already blurry in the first place. The real spectacle isn’t all of the young women being dissected on screen and covered in – what was rumored to be – sheep guts, it is in Montag’s speeches about what we don’t know and can’t begin to figure out.’ — Brattle Blog




The Gore Gore Girls (1972)
The Gore Gore Girls stands alone in the Lewis repertoire in several ways. Though no stranger to sex and nudity in his non-horror work, the director had always kept these elements a safe distance from his gore films, feeling such a blend was too risky even for him. But competition had upped the ante, so the move was finally made here (Lewis remembers less nudity than the film actually contains, incidentally). The combination of sick gore and sick humor remains as potent today as ever. Many viewers (including some horror fans) still find it unwatchable. Even Something Weird owner Mike Vraney (in his audio commentary interview with Lewis, where he’s joined once again by Jimmy Maslin of Shock Films) admits his discomfort with the film’s most extreme sequence. Lewis is neither defensive nor apologetic: he made the film, he states, for adults only; and for that matter, for adults who possessed a certain sick sense of humor. No attempt was ever made to disguise the nature of the film, and the idea that anyone would take it seriously is simply bewildering to the director. This was an attempt to once again out-“gross” what anyone else was doing; and it unquestionably delivered the goods.’ — images


the entire film (very poor quality)


Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002)
‘Thirty-nine years after making his groundbreaking independent horror film Blood Feast, director Herschell Gordon Lewis returns with a sequel. This time around, Faud Ramses III (J.P. Delahoussaye) , the grandson of Blood Feast’s protagonist, moves into his granddad’s catering shop. It isn’t long before Faud proves to be a chip off the old block, as he lures buxom young women into his lair and carves them up for sandwiches. Nobody ever has, nor could, accuse H.G. Lewis of being a genuinely good filmmaker – his career is built on lower-than-B-grade trash after all, but similar to the likes of Lloyd Kaufman, his movies must be viewed using a wholly different set of expectations than critical standard. In this sense, Blood Feast 2 is a raging success. Not only is it excessively gory (sickly, even, in parts), but it’s also legitimately funny. Visually, it looks cheap and uninspired – Lewis employs no glitzy camera tricks, displays no directorial flair, and blocks as easily as possible for an obviously quick shooting schedule. Again, being an H.G. Lewis film this is something to be expected, alongside lingering close-ups of the extreme mutilation conducted during the kill scenes and uniformly hammy acting from the cast.’ —




The Uh-oh Show (2009)
‘Originally conceived under the title of Grim Fairy Tales, The Uh-Oh Show! is gore and exploitation legend Herschell Gordon Lewis’s minimally scary second film of the new millennium. While his previous film was a sequel to arguably his most famous work, Blood Feast, this one’s a completely original idea. It blends his usual trademark extreme, absurd gore with light satire on reality TV and pop culture. The most important thing this horror comedy makes clear is that the man has not lost his sense of humor and fun in the slightest nor has he forgotten how to sling blood around or hack off body parts.’ —


Herschell Gordon Lewis and the Making of The Uh-Oh! Show




p.s. Hey. So, tomorrow’s p.s. will be the last one until probably next Tuesday. I’m heading off tomorrow afternoon to San Francisco to do my thing in the New Narrative conference there plus a reading then hanging out in California afterwards ’til month’s end, but I should be able to do the p.s. for at least part of that time. I’ll explain better tomorrow. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. You have time on the post, like I said, since I’ll be mostly blog-indisposed until the end of this month. Whoa, I haven’t thought about Long Fin Killie in a million ages. Like you, I can’t remember their sound. No, I haven’t heard the Ka5sh. It sounds curious. I will. Thank you. I read a transcript of Eminem’s thing this morning. Good for him. Text-wise, it seemed like you had to be there or watch it or something. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Don’t agree at all about Wiseman, but that’s showbiz. I’ll mention your thing to/about Mis when I get to his comment in case he missed it. ** Bill, Hey, Bill. Yeah, it would be great to see you. I’ll probably be hanging out at the conference on Friday and Saturday if the ambition to get over to UC Berkeley strikes. You have my email and phone? If not, let me know, and I’ll shoot them to you. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! I hope your cold is in defeat by this morning or at least going down to defeat. I think when you’re not feeling well you have the luxury of being boring, although I can’t imagine you’re actually boring, you probably just feel so. My day was mostly trip predatory. No Sundance news yet, grr. Yeah, very quiet. Big relief because Zac’s father’s house was in serious danger of being burned in the big Northern California fires — he and his wife were evacuated with others to an evacuation center at the local fire station and then had to be evacuated from the fire station too because it burned down — but apparently it’s okay. Today Zac and I have to spend the day in the media center outputting the three versions of our film: long (theater), long (online), and short. It’ll be tedium central, but it’s the very last thing we have to do. How was your Wednesday? I hope it involved you feeling much better no matter what. ** Sypha, Hi. Obsession gives you character or something unless, you know, it’s Harvey Weinstein-style obsession. I only liked Gaga to some degree when she was making occasionally awesome trash and was seemingly content to make awesome trash. ** _Black_Acrylic, Morning, Ben. ** Ferdinand, Hey, man, thank you a ton again for the amazing post. You’re awesome. ** Liquoredgoat, Hi, D. Oh, shit, I want to do a Welcome to the World post about your book, of course. I’ll be away doing stuff with blog limitations until Halloween, but I’ll put it together during the course as soon as I can, and I’ll give you a shout when it’s together and scheduled. Excited to read it! Thanks a lot. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Oh, first, David Ehrenstein asked you something yesterday. In case you didn’t see it, he asked ‘A few days back Mis mentioned something about a publisher he was dealing with. Mis, if you’re reading this tell me more about said publisher. I’m looking for a venue for “Raised By Hand Puppets” which is very nearly complete.’ I think that thinking before talking/writing one’s opinion is a plague at the moment, and I do try my best to avoid the knee-jerk. Gotcha re: the probable reasons LPS is being driven off school’s course. That sounds tough to counteract, especially since his girlfriend is tangentially a reason, and yet, all you can do is try and you should. ** Alistair, Hi, A! Thanks, man, and have amazing trip and time and event in NYC! Yes, yes, message me when you get home, and, if I’m in the hood, hanging out would be fantastic. ** Armando, Hi. I’m good. I have a long day of final technical work to output our film ahead of me. He didn’t mention about the less directing thing when I talked to him. I did bring up my plaintive letters, and he said Bresson barely spoke English, so, if he even ever got them, I assume they just looked like gobbledygoop to him. I think I’ll see the producer before I leave on my trip tomorrow. I’ll ask him if I do for sure. Oh, wow. I’m excited to see your film. It’ll have too wait til later ‘cos I’m scrambling to finish this and get the media studio in time. Very cool. Everyone, d.l. and multi-talent artist Armando made a film. Please check it out. Here he is: ‘So, I made this small “short film”. It’s “inspired” by and a homage and tribute to Benning and Warhol… Here it is.’ ** Okay. Halloween’s build-up continues here on DC’s with today’s restoration of the very Halloween-y works of Herschell Gordon Lewis. Trip out and/or gore out. See you tomorrow.


  1. Jamie

    Hey Dennis!
    Funnily enough I started watching Blood Feast the other week, after I saw some clips of it in the Party Monster doc that was featured here in the SCAB day. All roads lead to DC’s, or something.
    How are you? Amazing that you’re going to California tomorrow. Hope it’s an excellent trip. What are your plans apart from the New Narrative conference? Hope you get some high/low quality viewing done on your plane rides.
    My health woes continue and get more like comedy. Yesterday my nose went red and swollen, making me look like an alky. It’s still like that today and I’ve got constant nausea too. I’m suspecting that someone’s put a curse on me. Surely it’s all going to level out soon.
    Satan’s Day was very satisfying. Super good Nick Cave gif in there.
    Oh, and I watched Playtime on your advice. Jeez, what a movie! I’ve become fairly obsessed by it. Everything about it is amazing – the look, the sound, the sets, the colour (heavy grey which I’d normally disapprove of but wow when any other colour is introduced it’s heavenly), the way it’s shot, the drifting ‘plot’ – so so great! Thanks so much for putting me on to it. It’s kind of blown my mind, in a most pleasant way. What an intricate creation. Mon Oncle is next for sure.
    Anyway, just wanted to wish the bonnest of voyages. May your trip feel like it was organised and curated by a think-tank of geniuses who’ve been studying you intently for years.
    Be seeing you!
    Shimmering love,

    • Jamie

      Oh, and I forgot to say thanks so much for your shout out about Hannah’s poem and your kind words. Very much appreciated! x

  2. Steve Erickson

    I’ve never thought Lewis was a particularly talented filmmaker – unlike ’60s “exploitation” directors like Russ Meyer and Radley Metzger – and got the feeling he just got into gore to cover this up. At best, his work is fun in a very cheesy way, and that’s obviously the most he was aiming for (given his suspicion of directors who think they’re artists.)

    I think I sat next to Zachary Quinto at last night’s New York Film Festival screening of Aki Kaurismaki’s THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE. I haven’t been that impressed. by recent Kaurismaki, especially compared to early films like THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL and ARIEL, but this is the best he’s done in quite a while. The protagonist is a Syrian refugee who comes to Finland – this subject was also addressed in his last film, LE HAVRE – and finds himself dealing with neo-Nazis on the street, a bureaucracy that wants to deport him and working at an “ethnic” restaurant run by Finns that has no idea what it’s doing and, for instance, serves sushi where the amount of wasabi dwarves the portions of fish. Kaurismaki is not really doing anything new in terms of style or tone – this comes off like a mix of Frank Capra and Jim Jarmusch, and if you’re familiar with his work, you’ll understand how something that seemingly contradictory could work. But the subject matter and the fact that a white European director is depicting Muslim refugees in a very straightforward and matter-of-fact way give this a new urgency missing from his recent films.

    I watched a video last night by a band that mixes hip-hop and psychedelic rock, who were recommended by the Afropunk website. The video opens with everyone depicted in it smoking joints. Then, the band’s vocalist, who raps rather than singing, is shown both in an apartment and a forest with various “psychedelic” effects – the color randomly changes, animated triangles and eyes appear on his forehead, and there’s a scene where someone tries to fry an egg but it keeps spontaneously lifting itself out of the pan. Instead of thinking “wow, this is so trippy! Even though I’m totally sober, I feel like I’m stoned myself!”, I thought “this song is crap, and over the past 5 days, I’ve seen 6 videos that look just like this, all of which are better, and this is the most literal way possible to do a video related to drug culture.”

    I have to transcribe the second half of my Morten Traavik interview, I have some annoying errands to run and some bullshit to deal with re: my super, and this evening I’m seeing Griffin Dunne’s Joan Didion documentary. But I hope I have time to look up Long Fin Killie clips on YouTube in between all this.

    • David Ehrenstein

      Hope you get a chance to chat with Griffin Dunne. They’re a fascinating family and Griffin interests me in particular. He co-produced “Mean Streets” and memorably starred in “After Hours” with Rosanna Arquette. She’s in the news today for recounting how Harvey Weinstein tried to assault her and when she refused to have sex with him (and slapped him upside the head) he said he’d make sure she’d never get another movie role again.

      • Steve Erickson

        He is playing Leonard Bernstein in a Gore Vidal biopic coming out next year. If the interview happens, I definitely want to talk about that! The Didion doc is formally conventional but very interesting.

  3. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – Been enjoying the Halloween posts in lurker mode and nice to see blood feast maestro revived today.

    My sinus infection returned b/c they didn’t give me a long enough course of antibiotics initially — a huge drag. I’ve been battling that while putting the finishing touches on revisions for the novel. It’s been an unexpected process, maybe something to discuss over Skype sometime. Overall very happy with how everything has come together.

    Also been scrambling to leave tomorrow for artist’s colony in Virginia. I’ll be there 3 weeks and hopefully switching from revision mode to starting a new project and making some tangible headway with that.

    Last week, visited Davidson College where an experimental lit class was discussing Novi Sad. The kids were so smart and enthusiastic and had really interesting comments and questions about the text and how it worked with Michael’s artwork and the frame of the narrative and how that affected the voice and everything else. Really exciting experience.

    Hope your Cali trip is wonderful. Any particular things you’re looking forward to doing while there?

  4. David Ehrenstein

    Herschel Gordon Lewis dissing Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” is pretty funny.

    • Misanthrope

      DavidE, Sorry I missed your comment/question yesterday. This new DC’s has been crazy for me. I actually haven’t been dealing with a publisher…yet. Still working on completing my novel. However, I believe you’re talking about the new thing FSG is doing. I’m sorry to seem so obtuse or vague, but I’m really not. Dennis and Steve mentioned it to me, and I have yet to look into it. They would know better than I at this point.

  5. Steve Erickson

    I just watched 2 Long Fin Killie videos. The band is definitely in need of re-discovery and reissues. Judging from the songs I heard, they combined elements of acid folk (I can hear Richard Thompson in some of the guitar parts, and their singer played violin, among other instruments), post-punk and shoe gaze (the second half of the the second video I watched builds up to a big crescendo that’s full of Ride/Slowdive-style distortion. Their video “Hollywood Gem” was posted to YouTube from a tape from the notoriously middle-of-the-road music video channel VH1! (It has the logo “Chill Out” in the corner.) And apparently VH1 were willing to play it with the N word intact.

  6. Nick Toti

    Hi Dennis,

    Great HGL day! I haven’t watched his stuff in a while, but his Two Thousand Maniacs! was a big influence on my master’s thesis back when I was in grad school. (The thesis was a genre study of rednecks horror films.) I was always impressed with how fun his movies are. People tend to write them off as simple exploitation, but there are a lot of indie horror movies that come out now that are more “respectable” but so goddam boring in comparison. HGL’s movies usually have an anarchic glee and fun, cartoonish characters.

    Great to hear you’re coming to California for the Halloween season! Maybe I’ll run into you at a haunted house. I sent the list you posted a couple weeks ago to my wife and she picked out a couple goodies we’re going to try to make it to these next few weekends.

    Hope everything is otherwise great. Talk soon!

  7. Sypha

    Dennis, yeah, in regards to Gaga’s last album (which, I have to admit, I still enjoyed to some degree, despite my issues with it), at the back of my mind I knew it was the kiss of death when the (mostly positive) reviews were filled with words with negative connotations: “stripped-down,” “country & western,” “twang,” “modest,” and (worst of all) “authenticity” (ugh, there, I said it). I think somewhere down the line Gaga let herself get bothered by people who claimed what she was doing wasn’t real music and now feels the need to constantly be proving that yes she can sing, yes she can play the piano, whatever. Ah well. Maybe she’s in her mid-90’s Madonna Evita period or something.

    • Steve Erickson

      I really like the new Kesha album, but I’m kinda suspicious of my response, since she’s now working with acoustic guitar and sounding like ’70s Dolly Parton (who does a feature on the album) half the time rather than sounding like a trashier Fergie the way she used to. But “Bastard” is one of the most passionate songs I’ve heard this year, and it sounds even better in a post-Harvey Weinstein downfall context.

      • Sypha

        Yeah, I enjoyed the new Kesha album, I’d even say it’s in the running for best of the year (not that there’s much competition at the moment, sorry to say). Lyrically it’s pretty dire: I find the self-empowerment bromides and girl power cliches tedious in the extreme, but luckily they’re welded to catchy pop hooks so at least there’s sugar to wash the medicine down.

        • Steve Erickson

          “Bastard” may be not the most brilliant lyric, but Kesha delivers it in a way that gives it real force, and the fact that it was inspired by real abuse from a man whose name I know lifts over “the self-empowerment bromides and girl power cliches” I do find tedious in so much contemporary top 40, especially Katy Perry.

  8. Dóra Grőber


    Thank you; I think it’s finally going down in defeat, indeed. Or at least I certainly hope so!
    Oh my god, this sounds horrible! I’m truly glad Zac’s parents are all right!! What about their house? These seemingly unstoppable fires are one of the scariest things I can imagine.
    May the Force be with you throughout your media center duties! How did everything go?
    Now that I can breathe again, I finally went to see a friend’s new apartment today and it was super nice. And it looks like both the real estate people and the owner said yes to our proposition so we can buy the apartment we picked! Thank you ever so much for your angel, haha, he did work his magic!
    Any Sundance news? I’m hoping for a “yes”. And I hope you had an enjoyable day despite the must-dos!

  9. _Black_Acrylic

    Super HGL Day, there was a very particular kind of art to what the guy did.

    @ DC, all the best for your California sojourn!

    Tomorrow I’m meeting up with Alex and Donna at the Vision building to discuss where we’re at with the whole Yuck ‘n Yum thing. I’m hopeful that we can pull off an AGK karaoke event in November, before flying Alex out for the show in Seattle in the new year, and then maybe some long term bigger picture stuff after that too .

  10. James Saito

    A very comprehensive article, except you left out BloodMania. If you would like I can let you see a screener. It is showing worldwide now on Amazon prime and Vimeo on demand.

  11. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Thanks for the DavidE heads up. As you know, I don’t see the other comments here when before I post. And I’m usually commenting late, so I hit “Post Comment” and jump off. I’ll respond to him today. Though I think what he’s talking about is when you and Steven suggested something new that FSG is doing now.

    Oh, yeah, the knee-jerk reaction is a bane these days. And it seems we all do it at some point or other. I usually do it but don’t mean what I’m saying: it’ll just be something so outrageous that people know right off that I’m totally fucking about. Otherwise, yeah, I try to think first and then speak.

    LPS and the gf are so obsessed with each other. They can’t let each other out of their sights. So jealous and afraid that the other is gonna look at someone else a second too long or something. I think it’s the first relationship for both, but frankly, I think it’s quite toxic or could become so very quickly. I try to advise him against that shit, but he’s all googly eyes and stuff and can’t see the forest for the trees. But I’ll keep trying.

  12. Armando


    How are you today?

    “I think I’ll see the producer before I leave on my trip tomorrow. I’ll ask him if I do for sure.” Oh, you’re going away?! Where to, if you don’t mind me asking? And thank you so much. If it helps/is of relevance, tell him it’s a very small and cheap and simple film and that while it’s completely “narrative” it’s sort of… “experimental” or “different” or whatever… Thank you so much again.

    How did you and Zac meet, if it’s not intruding? You think he could/would ever consider at all being my producer or one of my producers? Guess not really, huh?… 🙁

    “I’m excited to see your film. It’ll have too wait til later ‘cos I’m scrambling to finish this and get the media studio in time.” Thank you so much. I hope you can see it before going on your trip. You don’t have to tell me what you think. I just would really, really, really like you to see it; even though it embarrasses me; as always, of course…

    I guess now would be an even worse time to shoot you an email, right?…

    I’d like so much to contribute one day with one post if you thought it was passable enough.

    Take very good care, please!

    Good day; good luck,

    Love and hugs,


  13. Paul Curran

    Love the HG Lewis Day!!! A true accidental master. Love it at any time of year, but it’s a particular treat given the season…

    Congratulations again to Zac and you on the final final finishing of the film!!! I can’t wait to see it. The pictures I’ve seen look beautiful.

    Have a great California Halloween trip. Would love to have seen the New Narrative conference talks. Maybe there’ll be some film floating around.

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