Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Thanksgiving Big Bad-Movie Extravaganza

Ah, there's nothing like a Thanksgiving Feast! Delicious appetizers, yummy turkey with gravy and potatoes; green bean casserole; a girl's arm; cranberry sauce; pumpk... wait. What?

Yes, it's here. Caliban's Revenge presents the First Annual Big, Bad Movie Extravaganza. As promised, it's a salute to one of the worst filmmakers (with the oddest career) in the history of cinema, Herschell Gordon Lewis.

H.G. Lewis is currently in post production on his 37th film, The Uh-oh Show, and if that sounds kind of porny, it's because Lewis started his career in the early 60's, making soft-core skin flicks with titles such as The Adventures of Lucky Pierre; Nature's Playmates and (I swear to God) Boin-n-g.

In 1963, Lewis moved from the porn-houses to the Southern Drive-In circuit with his first horror movie, Blood Feast, the movie that made Lewis "The Godfather of Splatter."

Set in Miami, Blood Feast is the story of an Egyptian caterer who offers to make a feast that hasn't been prepared for 5000 years for an engagement party. Meanwhile, the bodies of young women -- sans various body parts -- start popping up all over town, leaving the inept Miami Dade PD both literally and figuratively clueless (of course, David Caruso and his team of hot, sexy scientist cops would have kicked their asses). Of course, it turns out that the feast is part of a resurrection ceremony and the daughter is the final sacrifice to bring an ancient goddess to life in a body stitched together from the various missing parts. Bad writing, acting and directing combined with the worst special effects anyone has ever seen (Lewis uses mannequin limbs; butcher's castoffs and lurid red paint with laughable results), help make Blood Feast so wonderfully awful:

Nothin' hotter than Big Girl panties, eh boys? Lewis immediately went back to nudies, making Goldilocks and the Three Bares, and you'll see why I mention it soon. H.G.'s next horror movie was a charming little tale of hillbilly revenge called Two Thousand Maniacs! Six Northerners are lured into a small town and told they are the guests of honor at their Centennial Celebration. Of course, it turns out that they're celebrating the 100th anniversary of their annihilation by a squad of sadistic Union soldiers and "Guest of Honor" really means "Substitute Revenge Victim." The kills are more inventive (crushed by a falling boulder; sealed in a barrel of nails and rolled downhill; draw and quartering. There's even cannibalism. Lewis' standards of quality remain delightfully non-existent:

Okay, so maybe she was crushed by a giant baked potato... Yeeeeee-Haw! indeed. Rounding out what many refer to as Lewis' "Blood Trilogy" is 1965's Color Me Blood Red, about a bad artist who accidentally discovers that painting with blood finally brings him the critical acclaim he seeks, and so begins a killing spree in his quest for "paint:"

It may be macarb, but it is not for the eyes or ears of anyone under 16. And it always leaves me aghast. In '67 (despite what the clip below says - it's wrong, not me) Lewis made a delightful little movie about a madwoman and her mentally challenged son who murder and scalp young women to supply the old lady's wig shop. I've never actually seen The Gruesome Twosome, but I imagine it's every bit as good as any of Lewis' endeavors.

Gruesome was quickly followed by Something Weird, Lewis' relatively bloodless tale of ESP and supernatural powers. He makes two more jiggle and bouncers and then, possibly in the single most bizarre career swerve ever, and makes a children's movie! Of course, The Magic Land of Mother Goose is probably the only scary movie Lewis ever made, as evidenced by the terrifying trailer below (and I apologize in advance for what's inside the giant book around 0:47). This is the second of three Fairy Tale-themed films Lewis would make:

I love that the company is "Something Weird Video." But honestly, would you subject a child to that? It's British Pantomime on LSD with a morphine chaser! Yikes! I've watched it three times now, and it still creeps me out. I guess making a movie made by placing a camera in your local community theatre's auditorium and filming their Christmas show is a cheap, if nothing else. There were a bunch more skinflicks, biker chick flicks and general exploitation movies that followed.

It would be another three years before Lewis made what his most insane horror movie yet, 1970 The Wizard of Gore. This a film I know I've mentioned before, because it is one of the very few things I can remember ever making my sister swear. Montag the Magnificent is a magician who stages elaborate and gory illusions using power saws and drill presses and such. His audience volunteers walk back to their seats completely unharmed, but turn up later, dead from the same injuries they appeared to have suffered on stage. About halfway through the movie, my sister, who was probably in high school at the ime, turned to me and said "What the hell is this crap?" A question I still ask myself, today:

More jigglers and then The Gore-Gore Girls in 1972, another movie I've never actually seen. Lewis took a thirty year break from directing, but returned in 2002 with Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat. In the trailer's intro (a trademark, if you haven't noticed by now), Lewis says "Horror movies have come a long way since (Blood Feast)..." Thankfully, Lewis' talent for directing hasn't changed a bit:

It's nice to know that Lewis' running gags about stupid cops and repeated use of cow tongues never goes away. And soon, the insane 80 year-old's 37th movie will be upon us. The Uh-oh Show is about a bizarre game show that features on-air chainsaw amputations and it's follow-up, 'Grim Fairy Tales,' inspired by teh nightmare's kids have about fairy tales. It's either a brilliant statement about the state of modern television programming, or just another whacked out framing device for Lewis to stage unrealistic, elaborate murders. Here's the trailer, you decide:

You know the DVD will be on my Amazon wish list...

A director whose career has inexplicably lasted 50 years, H.G. Lewis is the not only the first subject of the Annual Big, Bad Movie Extravaganza, he is also the winner of the first ever Caliban's Revenge "Moon Cow Award" (look it up, philistines) for Lifetime Achievement in Bad Film-making. We can all be thankful to H.G. for proving that a lack of talent should never stand in one's way of a 50-year career.

If you're getting up at 3:00 AM to go shopping tomorrow, don't. I feel sorry for the store employees who have to get up at 1:00 to wait on you. They may be getting overtime, but they aren't paid enough to put up with your insane, consumer-programmed need to get that 42" LCD TV for $36.00, no matter how many people you need to trample to death to do so. I will be shopping tomorrow, but in the afternoon and far away from the malls in two quaint little Bucks County towns. Let the holiday madness begin.

More, anon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!