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Herschell Gordon Lewis is a Actor, Director, Scriptwriter, Producer, Director of Photography, Production Design, Sound and Makeup Effects American born on 15 june 1929 at Pittsburgh (USA)

Herschell Gordon Lewis

Herschell Gordon Lewis
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Birth name Hershell Gordon Lewis
Nationality USA
Birth 15 june 1929 at Pittsburgh (USA)
Death 26 september 2016 (at 87 years)

Herschell Gordon Lewis (born June 15, 1929) is an American filmmaker, best known for creating the "splatter" subgenre of horror films. He is often called the "Godfather of Gore", though his film career has included works in a range of exploitation film genres including juvenile delinquent films, nudie-cuties, two children's films and at least one rural comedy. On Lewis' career, Allmovie wrote, "With his better-known gore films, Herschell Gordon Lewis was a pioneer, going farther than anyone else dared, probing the depths of disgust and discomfort onscreen with more bad taste and imagination than anyone of his era."


Herschell Gordon Lewis was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1929. His father died when he was six years old. His mother re-married a few years later and his family then moved to Chicago, Illinois where Lewis spent the majority of his adolescence. After attending grade school, Lewis received a Master's degree in Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. A few years later, he became a professor of English literature at Mississippi State College. He was lured from his teaching career to be the manager of WRAC Radio in Racine, Wisconsin, and later to become a studio director at WKY-TV studio in Oklahoma City.

In 1953, Lewis began working for a friend's advertising agency in Chicago while teaching graduate advertising courses at night at Roosevelt University. In the meantime, he began directing TV commercial advertisements for a small production company called Alexander and Associates. Lewis later bought out half of the company with business associate Martin Schmidhofer and renamed it Lewis and Martin Films.

Film career
Lewis served as producer on his first film venture, The Prime Time (1959), which was the first feature film produced in Chicago since the late 1910s. He would assume directing duties on nearly all of his films from then on. His first in a lengthy series of collaborations with exploitation producer David F. Friedman, Living Venus (1961), was a fictitious account based on the story of Hugh Hefner and the beginnings of Playboy. Lewis and Friedman's movies were early exploitation films, and the films' nude scenes, although softcore, were not seen in "mainstream" Hollywood pictures because of the censorship imposed by the Motion Picture Production Code.

The two continued with a series of erotic films in the early 1960s. These films marked the beginning of a deliberate approach to filmmaking which each respective party would continue through their production careers – films made solely with the intention of turning a profit. Typical of these nudies were the screwball comedies Boin-n-g! (1963) and The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961), a film made for a shoestring budget of $7,500 which would become the duo's first great financial success which made three times its budget upon its first release. Because film restrictions had not yet allowed for sexual depictions in films, the bulk of Lewis and Friedman's early work consisted of nudist camp features like Goldilocks and the Three Bares (1963), which appropriately billed itself as "the first (and to date the only) nudist musical".

With the nudie market beginning to wane, Lewis and Friedman entered into uncharted territory with 1963's seminal Blood Feast, considered by most critics to be the first "gore" film. Because of the unprecedented nature of this type of film, they were able to cater to the drive-in theater market which would have been inaccessible with their prior skin flicks. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) and Color Me Blood Red (1965) followed the same formula. The full-color gore on display in these films caused a sensation, with horror film-makers throughout the world becoming eager to saturate their productions with similarly shocking visual effects.

Lewis stopped working with Friedman after making Color Me Blood Red, but continued to make further gore films into the 1970s. His next gore entry wouldn't come until 1967, with A Taste of Blood, often referred to as the "Gone with the Wind of Gore" due to its relatively lengthy running time of nearly two hours. The following year would bring a more extreme take on the genre, The Gruesome Twosome (1967), most notable for incorporating an electric knife used to scalp one of the victims.

Outside his notorious gore canon, Lewis pursued a wide gamut of other exploitation avenues throughout the sixties. Some of the more taboo subjects he explored include juvenile delinquency (Just for the Hell of It, 1968), wife swapping (Suburban Roulette, 1968), the corruption of the music industry (Blast-Off Girls, 1967), and birth control (The Girl, The Body and The Pill, 1967). He was also not above tapping the children's market, as with Jimmy the Boy Wonder (1966) and The Magic Land of Mother Goose (1967), which were padded out to feature film length by incorporating long foreign-made cartoons. Most of Lewis' films are available for purchase through the Seattle-based video company titled Something Weird Video which finds and restores lost and little seen exploitation movies from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Towards the end of the 1960s, Lewis would return to the world of sexploitation, with regulations now being considerably more lax. Those films quickly vanished into obscurity: Lewis' 1972 film Black Love, apparently an erotic film with an all African American cast, and a pair of nudies, Ecstasies of Women (1969) and Linda and Abilene (1969), a lesbian western which remains notorious for having been shot on the Spahn Ranch only months before it became inhabited by the Manson Family. The negatives for all three films were rediscovered in early 2012, at which point archivists began a lengthy and expensive restoration project. Year of the Yahoo! (1972) was also believed lost, though a largely complete print is now available on DVD as a double feature with the semi-gory ode to moonshine, This Stuff'll Kill Ya! (1971).

Lewis financed and produced his own movies with funds he made from his successful advertising firm based in Chicago. Always resourceful despite the low budgets he worked with, Lewis purchased the rights to an unfinished film and completed it himself, re-titling the film Monster A Go-Go (1965). Many years later, the film gained notoriety after being shown on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 television show, where the cast stated it was the worst film they have ever done. Lewis would repeat this formula when he acquired a gritty psychological piece called The Vortex and released it as Stick It in Your Ear (1970) to be shown as a second feature to The Wizard of Gore (1970). This approach demonstrated Lewis's business savvy; by owning the rights to both features, he knew he would not get fleeced by theaters juggling the box office returns, a common practice at that time.

Lewis's third gore phase served to push the genre into even more outrageous shock territory. The Wizard of Gore (1970) featured a stage magician who would mutilate his volunteers severely through a series of merciless routines. By 1973, Lewis had taken the gore approach to such a limit that it began to lampoon itself, which is why The Gore Gore Girls (1972) (featuring an appearance by Henny Youngman as the owner of a topless club) would mark his semi-retirement from film altogether.

By the early 1970s, he decided to leave the filmmaking industry to work in copywriting and direct marketing, a subject on which he published several books in the 1980s.

Recent activities
During his retirement from filmmaking, Lewis wrote and published over twenty books during his long business career in advertising, including The Businessman's Guide to Advertising and Sales Promotion in 1974 and How to Handle Your Own Public Relations in 1977. A slow but steady stream of books followed, which seemed to turn into a torrent in the 1990s. Lewis settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and founded his own advertising company, Communicomp, a full-service direct marketing agency with clients throughout the world.

In 2002 Lewis released his first film in thirty years, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, a sequel to the first film. It featured a cameo appearance by John Waters, a fan of Lewis' work.

In 2006, Lewis was inducted into the Polly Staffle Hall of Fame. Lewis has a pair of film projects in development with Florida-based feature film production company Film Ranch International. He also made a cameo appearance in the 2004 film Chainsaw Sally, and starred in issue one of American Carnevil, a graphic novel created by Johnny Martin Walters.

In 2009, Lewis released The Uh! Oh! Show, a film about a television game show where the contestants are dismembered for each wrong answer. The first screening was November 8, 2009 at the Abertoir Horror Festival in Aberystwyth, Wales and concluded with a Q&A with Lewis about the film.

In 2012, Lewis published a memoir, "The Godfather of Gore Speaks", in which he detailed his film career.

Usually with

Source : Wikidata

Filmography of Herschell Gordon Lewis (26 films)

Display filmography as list


Smash Cut
Smash Cut (2009)
, 1h19
Directed by Lee Demarbre
Origin Canada
Genres Comedy, Horror, Slasher
Actors Michael Berryman, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Sasha Grey, David Hess, Rusty Nails
Roles Fred Sandy / Radio Announcer
Rating36% 1.8167951.8167951.8167951.8167951.816795
Television news celebrity April Carson (Grey), working for station manager Fred Sandy (Lewis, in a cameo appearance), turns to the services of private investigator Isaac Beaumonde (Jesse Buck) to seek her missing sister, a stripper known as Gigi Spot (Jennilee Murray). Carson assumes a role in a horror movie in the process, eventually learning that the movie's director, Able Whitman (Hess), is not only the culprit, but that he has rendered her sister's body into props for the production. Whitman then requires more "props" for his film, which means more body parts, which in turn requires a killing spree. Meanwhile, detective Beaumonde pursues an increasingly deadly and grisly case.
The Gruesome Twosome, 1h12
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Comedy, Horror comedy, Horror
Themes Comedy horror films
Actors Herschell Gordon Lewis
Roles Radio Announcer (voice) (uncredited)
Rating48% 2.4083752.4083752.4083752.4083752.408375
Mrs. Pringle (Elizabeth Davis) owns a wig shop in a little town in Florida, but she is a demented woman who lives with her mentally retarded son, Rodney (Chris Martell), in a home where she rents rooms to young co-eds attending the local university. Girls are disappearing; they are killed and scalped by a mysterious murderer. When Kathy, a co-ed attending the university nearby, tries to figure out who is killing her classmates, the police discover the terrible truth about the fate of the young victims. And the truth, of course, involves Mrs. Pringle and her son.
Something Weird, 1h20
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Horror
Themes Films about magic and magicians, Witches in film
Actors Herschell Gordon Lewis
Roles Narrator (voice) (as Sheldon Seymour)
Rating50% 2.5039352.5039352.5039352.5039352.503935
A man named Cronin Mitchell (Tony McCabe) survives a horrible electrical accident but ends up with a badly scarred face. He also finds that he has developed strange psychic and telekinetic powers. His maimed face depresses him and he strikes a bargain with a witch, Ellen (Elizabeth Lee), who agrees to fix him, on the condition that he becomes her lover. This is difficult, because although she appears beautiful to every one else, his powers enable him to see that she is hideously ugly. Still, he vainly wants his good looks back and so they become lovers and begin traveling the country. Cronin Mitchell becomes a renowned psychic. Circumstances change when he attempts to use his psychic abilities to identify a maniac who is committing murders in the small town of Jefferson, Wisconsin and runs head-to-head into a karate-happy government official, Alex Jordan (William Brooker), sent by the federal government to work on the case. Trouble really begins when Alex begins falling in love with the witch, and he has no idea what he is getting himself into.
A Taste of Blood, 1h57
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Horror
Themes Dracula films, Vampires in film
Actors Herschell Gordon Lewis, Bill Rogers
Roles The Limey Seaman / Baron Khron (voice) (as Seymour Sheldon)
Rating47% 2.3654852.3654852.3654852.3654852.365485
A Miami businessman, John Stone, receives a parcel from England containing two old bottles of Slivovitz brandy from his recently deceased ancestor, and after drinking both bottles, becomes a vampire. Stone uses his newfound vampire powers to keep his wife, Helena, in a trance as he travels to England to kill the descendents of Abraham Van Helsing that murdered Count Dracula. Meanwhile, Helsing's distant relative, Howard Helsing, pursues Stone with the intent to put the reborn vampire to rest for good.
Monster a Go-Go!, 1h10
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Bill Rebane
Origin USA
Genres Science fiction, Horror
Themes Films about music and musicians, Musical films, Political films, Dystopian films
Actors June Travis, Henry Hite, Margo, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Bill Rebane
Roles Le narrateur
Rating18% 0.9044350.9044350.9044350.9044350.904435
The plot concerns an American astronaut, Frank Douglas, who mysteriously disappears from his spacecraft as it parachutes to Earth. The vanished astronaut is apparently replaced by or turned into a large, radioactive humanoid monster. A team of scientists and military men attempt to capture the monster – and at one point succeed, only to have him escape again. Neither the capture nor the escape are ever shown, and are simply mentioned by the narrator.
Blood Feast, 1h7
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Horror
Themes Serial killer films
Actors Connie Mason, Herschell Gordon Lewis, David F. Friedman
Roles Radio Announcer (voice) (uncredited)
Rating49% 2.498162.498162.498162.498162.49816
In a suburban Miami house, a young woman arrives home and turns on her portable radio which broadcasts news of the latest of several recent murders. The woman turns off the radio and begins to take a bath. Suddenly a gray-haired, wild-eyed man appears in the bathroom and brutally stabs the woman in her left eye, killing her. The man hacks off her left leg with a machete and leaves with it.
Goldilocks and the Three Bares, 1h9
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Comedy, Musical
Themes Films about sexuality, Erotic films, Sexploitation films
Actors Herschell Gordon Lewis
Roles Voice Introducing Sonny Seymour (voice)
Rating33% 1.650341.650341.650341.650341.65034
The film follows the perils of nightclub singer Eddie Livingston (Rex Marlow), as he pursues press agent Alison Edwards (Downe). Livingston's comic foil Tommy Sweetwood is an unsuccessful comedian who manages to offend his entire audience in one way or another with his brash, insensitive humor. Alison likes Eddie enough, but she hides a dark secret; she is a nudist! The two go back and forth playing cat and mouse as Eddie sings a series of Bobby Vinton-ish ballads like "Good Things Happen When I'm with You".
Scum of the Earth!, 1h13
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Sherald Brownrigg
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Thriller, Crime
Themes Films about sexuality, Erotic films, Sexploitation films
Actors Herschell Gordon Lewis
Roles Narrator (voice)
Rating52% 2.608392.608392.608392.608392.60839
An innocent college student, Kim Sherwood (Downe), is lured into doing "glamour" poses to earn money for tuition. Once she has done this work she is blackmailed by the photographers into doing more and more explicit posing. Various forms of implied sexual violence follow until the girl is rescued from her desperate situation.


Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, 1h39
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Comedy, Horror
Themes Serial killer films
Actors John McConnell, John Waters, Billy Slaughter, David F. Friedman
Rating54% 2.7488452.7488452.7488452.7488452.748845
Fuad Ramses III (J.P. Delahoussaye) returns to Miami to reopen his grandfather's defunct catering company. This arouses the interest of the local sheriff (Mark McLachlan), who holds Fuad's family reputation in ill favor. Fuad is soon, however, asked to cater the sheriff's wedding by his mother-in-law, Mrs. Lamply (Melissa Morgan), and fiancee, Tiffani (Toni Winne). After finding his grandfather's statue of Ishtar, an Egyptian goddess, in a utility closet, he becomes possessed by her evil spirit. He then goes on to create the 'blood feast' his grandfather failed to do, by killing young women in the area and making them into party food for the wedding.
The Gore Gore Girls, 1h21
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Comedy, Horror
Actors Henny Youngman, Frank Rice
Rating51% 2.5562152.5562152.5562152.5562152.556215
Nancy Weston (Amy Farrell), a reporter for The Globe, approaches Abraham Gentry (Frank Kress), an obnoxious private investigator, and offers him $25,000 on behalf of The Globe to investigate the brutal murder of stripper Suzie Cream Puff (Jackie Kroeger). She sweetens the deal with a $25,000 bonus for solving the case. Of course this comes contingent that The Globe gets the exclusive story. Gentry takes the case and begins the investigation of the murder with Weston in tow. When at the club, Gentry encounters a waitress, Marlene (Hedda Lubin), whose obnoxiousness rivals his. He gets through her to speak to another stripper and gets his first suspect, Joseph Carter.
This Stuff'll Kill Ya!, 1h39
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Crime
Actors Tim Holt, Larry Drake, Jack Garner
Rating38% 1.942891.942891.942891.942891.94289
A con artist acts as a preacher to run his moonshine distillery in a small town in the Deep South and clashes with a number of locals and a federal agent bent on shutting his operation down.