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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Steve's Church-Less Movie Of The Week: Godfather of Gore Double Feature ...

Today we proudly present two early sixties splatter films from "The Godfather of Gore" Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Enjoy ...

Yoinked from wikipedia and ...

"Blood Feast (also known as Egyptian Blood Feast and Feast of Flesh) is a 1963 American horror film directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, often considered the first splatter film. It was produced by David F. Friedman. The screenplay was written by Alison Louise Downe, who had previously appeared in several of Lewis' other films. Lewis also wrote the film's score.

Popular with members of Lewis' small but loyal cult following, as well as by some B movie fans, Blood Feast is a low budget horror film about an insane Egyptian caterer who kills people so that he can include their body parts in his meals and perform sacrifices to his Egyptian goddess Ishtar (the deity in question is actually Babylonian). Blood Feast immediately became notorious for its explicit blood, gore and violence. Blood Feast is often cited erroneously as one of the first films to show people dying with their eyes open (earlier examples include D. W. Griffith's 1909 film The Country Doctor and the 1931 film The Public Enemy).

Mal Arnold plays deranged murderer Fuad Ramses, described by author Christopher Wayne Curry in his book A Taste of Blood: The Films Of Herschell Gordon Lewis as 'the original machete-wielding madman,' and the forerunner to similar characters in Friday the 13th and Halloween. Lewis said of the film, 'I've often referred to Blood Feast as a Walt Whitman poem. It's no good, but it was the first of its type.'

What's really funny about this film, is that the acting sucks and it was shot for only $24,500, but the low budget and the lack of acting talent made no difference whatsoever. The final result of Herschell Gordon Lewis' and David Friedman's efforts shone with a golden light and changed the genre forever. They had created a new phenomenon and broken new ground by bringing us the very first film that focused on real gore. The blood was in your face and all of the gore effects were not only highly realistic looking, but also highly shocking by the standards of the time. Even by today's standards, some of the effects still hold up really well.

Blood Feast is the first part of what the director's fans have dubbed 'The Blood Trilogy.' Rounding out the trilogy are the films Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) and Color Me Blood Red (1965). After the third film, producer David F. Friedman said, 'I think that for now we're going to abandon making any more 'super blood and gore' movies, since so many of our contemporaries are launching similar productions, causing a risk that the market will quickly reach a saturation point.'"

... and now, time for part two.

Enjoy ...

"Two Thousand Maniacs! is a low budget 1964 splatter film directed and written by Herschell Gordon Lewis. It is the second part of what the director's fans have dubbed The Blood Trilogy, including Blood Feast (1963) and Color Me Blood Red (1965). The film has since become known as a classic of the drive-in theater era.

The film is known for its scenes of full color gore and torture, as well as for B-movie type direction and acting. The film and its director attracted a cult following, largely due to the over the top quality of the violence and the villains. The film starred 1963 Playboy Playmate Connie Mason. It was remade in 2005 as 2001 Maniacs, starring Robert Englund. The film's title song was written and sung by director Lewis. The movie would later inspire the name of the band 10,000 Maniacs.

The story of the film is inspired by the 1947 Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon. Six Yankee tourists are lured into the small southern town of Pleasant Valley by the redneck citizens to be the guests of honor for the centennial celebration of the day Union troops destroyed the town. The tourists are separated and forced to participate in various sick games which lead to their gory deaths.

Jerome Eden, who played John Miller in this film, actually appeared in all three of Herschell Gordon Lewis' Blood Trilogy films. In Blood Feast he had an uncredited role as the high priest and in Color Me Blood Red he played a character named Rolf. He also appeared in several other films from Herschell Gordon Lewis and/or David F. Friedman including The Defilers (1965), Bell, Bare and Beautiful (1963) and Daughter of the Sun (1962). In addition to his on screen role in Two Thousand Maniacs!, Jerome also wore a second hat as the production manager.

During the Civil Rights Movement, television and mainstream narrative films opted for a less realistic depiction of redneck than the televised news of the era. Films that tried to comment on the issue of race relations were commercial failures. However, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ plotline in Two Thousdand Maniacs! focuses on the ghost of a violent, vengeful Confederacy, and is aware of the region’s violent history and place in the anxiety of the rest of the United States. Although the film was released in 1964, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, issues of race relations and segregation are never interrogated in the film. Despite the lack of African American characters, the racial element of the violent South does not lurk far beneath the surface. By returning to celebrate the centennial destruction of Pleasant Valley by Union troops, the redneck ghouls take part in ritualistic acts of revenge that is indicative of the South obstinate refusal of desegregation and Civil Rights in the 1960s. The film dictates the anxieties the rest of the nation held towards the South’s, and it’s white inhabitants, history of extra-legal violence, perceived primitivism, and unresolved regional conflict.

That's some smart-sounding shit right there.

Two Thousand Maniacs! was filmed in 15 days, early in 1964, in the town of St. Cloud, Florida. According to a contemporary report, the entire town participated in the film. Two Thousand Maniacs introduced drive-in theater audiences to the formulaic plot-line of southern gore films: northern outsiders who are stranded in the rural South are horrifically murdered by virulent, backwoods southerners. This subgenre of Grindhouse peaked with the release of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) ten years after 2000! Maniacs."

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