DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

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DC’s ostensibly favorite Halloween Home Haunts of 2017 (National Edition)

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Mount Mayhem 1740 E Purdue Ave, Phoenix, AZ
‘Think every kid is an innocent soul that’s pure of heart? You’ve obviously never seen The Omen, The Good Son, or The Brood, bub, nor have you paid a visit to Mount Mayhem. This impressive-looking home haunt in north central Phoenix has been frightening people since 2009, and is teeming with corrupted preteens and adolescents known as “darklings.” As the story goes, they’re all refugees from an orphanage that have sworn to do the evil bidding of an insidious swarm of creatures known as The Glomung. It’s sort of like Lord of the Flies meets Children of the Corn. Try to keep all this in mind as you traipse through this DIY-style haunted house situated in a backyard while creepy kiddos let loose with bloodcurdling screams.’



 

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Forgotten Yard Home Haunt 1337 Andrus Avenue, Downers Grove, IL
Home haunt Halloween display with set design style displays. Display includes facades as well as static, pneumatic and motor driven displays. Each year I do a new theme, check us out on youtube: forgotten yard productions. Stop by and let me know what you think! As it gets closer I will have more info and maybe have it done earlier, every home haunter knows things come together late sometimes!



 

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Moaning Acres Haunted Attraction 917 S 100 W, Mona, UT
‘Moaning Acres is a home haunt located in Mona, Utah. We have been scaring people for the last 8 years. Each year brings a new theme and new props. We make most of our props and have started sculpting masks for our monsters this year. We are free to everyone and opened only on Halloween night. Brave trick or treaters who make it all the way to the door are rewarded with candy bars. I hope one day to open my own professional haunt, but in the mean time we continue to hone our craft of scaring the crap out of people.’





 

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Goth Gloom Spookhouse Elizabeth Anne Ln, Round Rock, TX
‘Goth Gloom Spookhouse ,a Home Haunt walk-through in Round Rock TX where we like to take it to the next level to provide an interactive Haunt experience. We do this for the love of Halloween and to carry on the tradition of Halloween. Our haunt is Free to all and we welcome all ages but we will accept donations to help with the cost to put on the Haunt.’









 

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Hempstead House Haunt: Dante’s Inferno 127 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point, NY
‘Once a year at Halloween, historic Hempstead House is transformed into a massive horror house – the theme for 2017: Danté’s Inferno. The fright-filled mansion spans three floors, including the subterranean dungeon. You’ll see horrific, spine-chilling scenes. Terrifying creatures are lurking everywhere. No one is safe – pray you don’t get lost or captured in the darkness.’


 

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Scary Scott’s Haunted House 34198 Fairfax Ct, Livonia, Michigan, MI 48152
Scary Scott’s Haunted House is a FREE walk-through haunted maze located inside the garage. Yes this is a home haunt but its a pro style haunted house with live actors. WE WILL SCARE YOU!!!





 

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The Haunt at Daisy Avenue 16887 Daisy Avenue, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
‘It has been our absolute pleasure to scare the community with our home haunt for nearly 20 years. What began as a fun side project turned into a labor of love, the time and efforts needed to create our attraction have evolved beyond what our family can handle. As much as it saddens us to say, Halloween 2017 will be the year we say farewell to our haunted house. However, the end of one endeavor sparks life into a new project for us. We are currently working on plans to create a year-round horror themed escape room experience. Although The Haunt at Daisy Avenue is retiring, its spirit will live on through a more interactive and even more terrifying attraction. We are super excited for this opportunity, and will share more details as this new evolution of our haunt becomes closer to a reality.’






 

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Townhouse of Terror 2455 W. Ohio Street #5W, Chicago, Illinois 60612
‘Townhouse of Terror presents Hospital HELL for the 2017 season, which is a high quality home haunt featuring live actors, custom themed rooms, and professional quality special effects. Our 2017 show will be open for two nights only on Friday October 13th & Saturday October 14th from 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM. Our normal attraction is very scary and not suitable for children under the age of 10, but you can request “easy scare” and we will provide you with a toned down show that is suitable for all ages, so do not hesitate to bring the entire family for some fall fun!’






 

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Realm of Fear 915 Lone Oak Lane, Mooresville, NC
‘Realm Of Fear started out as a simple Halloween display. Our front property was small when we began our journey. The props were a mix of store bought and custom made. Steven, our fearless leader and major Halloween enthusiast, had a plan. As Halloweens passed our display grew. It included more props custom built by Steven. They included props that moved, smoked and scared the pants off of you. Slowly but surely this became a family endeavor. I became a living prop in our cemetery scene. And our girls became model for future props and actors in our home haunt. Our house was not just a trick or treat house anymore. It became a home walk thru display for those who dared walk the drive. We made sure to keep a candy bowl at the end of the drive for the young ones and the scared.’






 

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Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House 3805 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50313
‘Since 1984, Linn’s Super Market Haunted House has been providing the “Scariest Night Ever” to visitors from all over the Midwest. From the moment you crawl in to the pitch black tunnel and descend into the basement, you know you are in for an experience unlike any other haunted attraction around. Walk and crawl through dozens of scenes and encounter dozens of invisible (until they want you to see them) monsters. Walk through swampy passages and even a room of killer bees. From clowns to wild animals, if it’s surprising, it’s probably somewhere inside this very long haunted house. Linn’s Haunted House relies on suspense and startles rather than blood and gore, making it the most unique classic haunted houses around.’






 

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Jim-Bob’s Garage of Death 87 1/4 Third Avenue, Bangor, Maine
‘I’ve been making haunted houses in my family garage since 2012 when I was 9 years-old. They’ve gotten really popular now and I’m happy. I want to make them scarier and scarier. Last year two people freaked out and had to be escorted from the garage! It was awesome!’






 

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Joe Allocco’s The Franklin Square Horror 1148 Norbay St, Franklin Square, New York, NY 11010
‘If Halloween is your favorite time of year, then this is one haunted house you don’t want to leave out of your fright-seeking itinerary! For the third consecutive year, Joe Allocco’s Franklin Square Horror proved it’s the top haunted house on the Island, thanks to its creativity and ability to find new ways to incite fright into even the bravest of souls. Allocco turned up the fright last Halloween by introducing the so-called House of VooDoo, which included a mix of new heart-stopping props and old favorites. You can always count on Franklin Square Horror to showcase human flesh-loving zombies, disfigured psychopaths and deranged killers! Proceed with caution!’

 

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Condemned Valley Haunted House 1018 Moravia St, Bethlehem, PA
‘We are a home haunt located in Bethlehem, PA. Guests who come through say: “This place is better than some professional haunts I’ve been to”. We run one night each year in October. If you want a high quality scare come to Condemned Valley. Each year we get bigger and better. We design and build Condemned Valley all year long to make it one of a kind haunt. The amount of detail and special effects is incredible! This year will be our most intense year yet.’







 

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Haunt on Williams Street 585 Williams St., Conneaut OH, 44030
‘Every October for the past 27 years, thousands of people have come to enjoy the frightening family fun at the Haunt on Williams Street. There are dozens of unique scenes that you won’t find anywhere else! Journey through the eerie graveyard, or see the marriage of the “happy couple” (not exactly a match made in heaven!). View your true inner beauty our Magic Mirror. Listen to the horrifying tales told by our Casket Vampire. Don’t be afraid to come down and see what’s lurking in the shadows. We’ve added a lot of new animations and special effects for your viewing pleasure.’



 

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Haunt of the Woods Zoar Road at Constitution Highway, Locust Grove, VA
‘Come Join us for a Scary Good Time at the “Asylum” The Haunt is free to enter. We are accepting non-perishable food items for local food bank. In addition we will have a donation box for monetary donations to help with the cost of the free haunt for the community.’











 

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Aftermath Haunted House 575 Ash St, Canon City, Colorado, CO 81212
‘We were given a glow stick, making us a beacon in the darkness, and sent off into the woods. There were some scarecrows, which I fully expected to move, but they didn’t. That had me all kinds of anxious as we walked further into the darkness and the first actor, who came out of nowhere, got me really good. They used the woods really well to hide, and we were a bundle of nerves by the time we even got to the house. It didn’t help that they had a really disturbing prop scare right before we went in. The house itself would be creepy if it was completely empty, but it wasn’t, of course. For all that the building didn’t look that big it seemed a lot larger once we were inside. We climbed up into a tunnel and crawled over some hot coals and I loved that it actually felt warmer in there. It really helped the effect. While mazes are not normally my thing, they have a maze built into that house. It was dark and claustrophobic, and full of interesting elements. There were two different sections and actors screwing with the path we took. However, they also made sure that we made it out at the end, which I appreciated. There’s a point where mazes loose the creepiness and just become annoying, but not this one. The basement was another area where we were looped around and misdirected, and the sets down there were just great. The actors were super intense. They didn’t have ton of lines, except perhaps the clowns, but even then no so much. There were, however, a lot of them. Most of the parts with actors I felt really overwhelmed which was incredibly uncomfortable. They were all saying really crazy things and their acting was fantastic, and we were surrounded.’









 

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Haunt 31 340 S. Annandale Drive , Lake in the Hills, IL.
‘What started as a hobby, has grown into an obsession. In 2012, with help from several Chicago Haunt Builders members, Haunt 31 completely designed and built the scenes & props for the haunted train ride. In 2013, Haunt 31 completely gutted, designed, and re-built the haunted house. In 2014/2015, Haunt 31 added more scenes to both the haunted train ride and the haunted house. In 2016, Haunt 31 designed and built the tennis ball shooting gallery. Did you know? Haunt 31 collects scrap-metal to help pay for the display! We’ve recycled over 39,746.5 pounds of metal so far! Drop it off, or we can come pick it up!!’





 

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My Morbid Mind 4548 Marvin Rd SE Lacey, WA 98513
‘My Morbid Mind Haunted House began as a Halloween display on the front porch of a house in suburban Lacey. Trick or Treaters would creep through a small gauntlet of horrors to reach the front door and receive their rewards. This was only the beginning for “Master of the Macabre” Kevin Noah. He is the owner, chief designer, builder, director, and supervisor for what has become the “best haunt in the state”! Together with his wife and two sons, they moved from the front porch to converting their entire back yard into a haunt. When that proved to be inadequate for their ever growing following, they set out looking for a larger venue. The Noahs didn’t have to look far. Just down the road an old, huge barn looked like the perfect place to set-up shop. Fortunately for Kevin, the owners Tom & Mona, were intrigued by the prospect of setting up the event on their property. They agreed to share their building with all of you, and have worked hard as staff members of the haunt every year.’








 

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Greenville Haunted Firehouse 1198 Norman Rd, Greenville, AL
‘Founded in 2003, the Greenville Haunted Firehouse is the brain child of the firefighters of Greenville, Alabama. Grown through hard work and passion for the scaring every soul that enters the house, the men and women of this haunt crew spend all year preparing for the scare season.’







 

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Dr. Radley’s Nightmare Machine 3900 19th Street North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714
‘The Radley Haunted House truly started in 2007, a year after I began decorating my parents’ house for Halloween. In 2006, I was inspired to do something for Halloween after my favorite attraction, Disney’s Haunted Mansion, went through an extensive overhaul and added new special effects. I figured it was time to take my obsession with the well-known ride from my head and into my parents’ yard, so I put up a surround-sound system, created a changing portrait much like the one seen in the Mansion’s foyer, an axe-wielding bride projection effect, and a Madame Leota illusion in the porch window. I dressed up my friends and made some entry gates with the famous Haunted Mansion plaques, trying my best to attract attention to my new set-up. Back then, almost nobody came to my house for Halloween. But as the haunt grew, that changed in a big way, now drawing hundreds of visitors. Eventually, when “the Radley” caught on and became a household name in the Bay Area, my determination to create something unique and impressive became even greater and caused me try and outdo myself each year. My hope is that, one day, the right team will form and we can eventually bring the Radley to a larger, professional space.’






 

 

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p.s. Hey. So, I’m heading off to San Francisco today to attend and participate in the New Narrative conference there and do a reading while I’m at it. Then I’m going to hang out in California getting as much Halloween under my belt as possible until the end of the month. The plan is that I won’t be able to do the p.s. again until Tuesday, so between now and then you’ll just get posts with no stuff at the bottom. Starting Tuesday, p.s.es will return. Chances are that I’ll take another break from doing p.s.es towards the end of the month, but I’ll figure that out and say more on that front later. If something happens to alter that plan, I’ll alert you via the comments section in the next few days. Also, I’ll be launching posts from California, so they’ll be appearing roughly 9 hours earlier than usual for the duration. I’ll be back in Paris and everything will return to normal starting on November 2nd. Does that makes sense? Hope so. ** Jamie, Hey, pal. Ha ha. I’m good, just pre-trip stressed as always. Apart from the conference, the main goal is to soak in Halloween. Want to check out a lot of Home Haunts because, at the moment, Zac’s and my next film is about a Home Haunt. See friends. Eat a lot of Mexican food. Stuff like that. Yes, I’m hoping that there are a lot of blockbuster films I missed that will be piled up in my plane’s entertainment reserves. Seems likely. Oh, awesome that you loved ‘Playtime’! So amazing, right? He was quite the singular genius, that Tati. Oh, I forgot to say how much I loved Hannah’s poem. Please pass along my kudos to her. I’m excited read much more of her work. Thanks for the bonnest wishes. An 11 1/2 hour flight followed by 9 hour time difference-based jet lag will require those wishes. Have an awesome next few days. And I hope you think your Thursday is marriage material. Seat 11D in Economy Class love, Dennis ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Talent is overrated, ha ha. As I’m sure I’ve said, Zachary Quinto was a waiter at this kind of go-to diner near my LA pad for years before his luck struck. He was famous at the diner for being the surliest, most assholeish waiter there. When he came to your table to take your order, you be, like, ‘Oh no, that guy, ugh.’ I’m always interested to see Kaurismaki’s films. Good luck with the Dunne interview. I’ll recheck Long Fin Killie while I’m out west. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. Oh, jeez, so sorry re: the sinus hassle. Sure, I’d love to Skype at the soonest opportunity. Mega-enjoy the artists colony. I know you will. Wow, how nice. An experimental lit class! God love that college. Super cool that they read/did ‘Novi Sad’. That must have been so interesting. Do you know what other books they’re reading? Thanks, uh, like I said, hopefully I’ll do lots of Halloween, chilling, etc. Post-film work enjoyment plus some next film-work research. Take care. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Kind of weirdly delicious even. ** Nick Toti, Hi, Nick! Good to see you, man. Thanks about the post. I intend to gorge on Home Haunts whilst in California so maybe we will. And, obviously, if you know susceptible people across the USA who happen to be the cities where today’s picks are happening, they seem worth doing. I hope everything is super great with you! See you in the dark, or in line, maybe. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I was one of those people who watched Gaga chase cameras and switch outrageous costumes every other day and thought she would burn her thing out awfully fast, and sure enough. I actually think her grabbing the social justice mantle was a smart career move at that point. Now she just seems lost and floundering. It isn’t impossible that she could figure out some new zeitgeist angle, but it’s awfully unlikely, and it will be interesting to see how she moves. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Excellent about its defeat! Yeah, I spoke too soon about Zac’s dad’s house. Apparently a second fire started near it, and now its fate is very uncertain again. Really awful and scary. We finished everything yesterday. So that finally and really is the end, and now the film is alive and will have what I hope will be a fruitful existence. Still no Sundance news. This week, we’re told. Oh, whew, and great about the apartment! When will you move in there? Huge congratulations! What are you up to today? My today is going to be ugh — metro to the airport, airport, 11 1/2 hour flight, taxi to where I’m staying in a state of sleepless delirium, sleep. Urgh. I look forward to talking with you again come Tuesday! Have a swell long weekend! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. I think so too re: HGL. Thank you about my trip. Here’s hoping the YnY meeting goes very well today. Let me know what happens. ** James Saito, Hi. Welcome to here and thank you. Yes, I’m not sure why ‘BloodMania’ wasn’t in there. Lack of good clips back when I made the post maybe? Thanks much for the link. ** Misanthrope, Hey, George. Oh, man, mutual obsessive love. That’s a hard one to counteract. The obsessive kind usually explodes before too long, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Very good luck with that one. ** Armando, Hi. I’m okay just stressed out about my long trip today. I started watching your film, which is beautiful, but my brain was too taxed from a long day of film work, so I’ll save the entire experience for when I’m at my leisure. I’m going to San Francisco for a literary conference and then staying in California for fun and ‘relaxation’ through Halloween. I did talk to our producer. He said that, as far as he knows, France’s government and regional film funding is only for filmmakers who are French citizens. Zac and I met through a friend and just immediately hit it off. Zac produce your film? I don’t think he has any skill or knowledge whatsoever re: producing films. That’s why we have a producer. You can shoot me an email whenever, but now is probably not the best time re: my already limited emailing abilities since I’ll be busy and traveling for the next while. Of course, anytime you feel like contributing a guest-post please do. Thanks! ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul! Awesomeness to see you, buddy! Thanks about the post, and of course for the congrats on finishing our film. Yeah, I can’t wait for you to see it. I’m incredibly happy with and proud of it. How are you? What’s going on? Take good care! Love, me. ** Okay. Today I have suggestions on the Home Haunt front for those of you who either might happen to be located near the entries or who are interested in the Home Haunt art form in general. The blog will see you at a strangely different time tomorrow, and I will see you all again on Tuesday. I look forward to it.

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

 

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Stills












































































 

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Further

Herschell Gordon Lewis Official Site
HGL @ IMDb
‘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’

 

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Extras


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


THE LOST FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS


Herschell Gordon Lewis ‘Noise’


Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Holiday Marketing Tip

 

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Interview
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.

 

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16 of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s 38 films

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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


Trailer


the entire film

 

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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.’ — unobtainium13.com


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Excerpt

 

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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


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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.’ — tvtropes.org


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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


Trailer


the entire film

 

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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 journal.com


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the entire film hosted by Joe Bob Briggs

 

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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


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the entire film

 

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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


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Excerpt

 

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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


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Excerpt

 

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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?’ — letterboxd.com


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the entire film

 

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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 journal.com


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Excerpt

 

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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


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Excerpt

 

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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


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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 journal.com


Trailer


the entire film (very poor quality)

 

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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.’ — dreadcentral.com


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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.’ — best-horror-movies.com


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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.

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