Directors Who Deserve A Film About their Life – Candidate #1 – Herschell Gordon Lewis

My first candidate for directors who deserve a film about their life is Herschell Gordon Lewis. Mr. Lewis will be 81 years old this June and is still making appearances in little low budget horror flicks, most recently in 2009’s Smash Cut and even has a film of his own in post production called The Uh-Oh Show! But Mr. Lewis’ heyday as a director was in the sixties when he made 29 feature films.

Lewis received a Master’s degree in Journalism and spent some time teaching at a state college but was lured into directing advertisements for a production company, which he later bought out with a partner. He made his first film Prime Time in 1960 with his own money and made a profit and so it begun! With new business partner David F. Friedman, he directed his first exploitation film Living Venus in 1961. The two made several of these sexy exploitation romps but decided to endeavour in fairly uncharted territory with films that focused on the blood and gore. The first of these is the now infamous Blood Feast, which was made in just 7 days. Although the film was made for next to nothing and was laden with technical issues, it was hugely successful. The banning of the film in several states only served to increase its popularity. With the profits from Blood Feast they made Two Thousand Maniacs, considered by many to be Lewis’ best film. 1965’s Color Me Blood Red was the last film Friedman and Lewis made together until their 2002 reunion of the hilarious sequel Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat. Herschell Gordon Lewis continued to make a wide range of films solo including comedy, action, drama and horror flicks including Gruesome Twosome, She-Devils On Wheels, This Stuff’ll Kill Ya!, The Wizard of Gore and finally The Gore Gore Girls (from which I swiped my moniker!) before retiring from the film industry and going into advertising full time. He has published numerous books on advertising and founded his own company, Communicomp.

Why does Herschell Gordon Lewis deserve a film about his life?

If for no other reason, as a huge horror fan I have to respect Mr. Lewis for his groundbreaking gore. He managed a successful career making ultra-cheap flicks. Between his exploitative nudie flicks to his horror films he was firmly grounded in censor hell to be forever destined for the world of underground filmmaking. He said of his own film Blood Feast (comparing it to a Walt Whitman poem no less!) “It’s no good but it’s the first”. Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs are two of my favourite horror films from the 60’s and I think it would be immensely entertaining to get a glimpse of how these films were made. A biographical film about Lewis would be chocked full of nudity, gore and laughs and if handled by the right director would be freaking awesome! The 2009 film Smash Cut not only featured Herschell Gordon Lewis as character Fred Sandy but also was clearly an ode to Lewis’ filmmaking career. This super low budget film is only loosely based on Lewis but is a great example of how potentially amusing and entertaining a film about Mr. Lewis would be.

Who should direct a film about Herschell Gordon Lewis?

The Prince of Puke himself, John Waters! Waters said of his own filmmaking “If someone vomits watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation”. He actually cites Herschell Gordon Lewis as one his creative influences, and has conducted interviews with the man. I love Water’s films and think he is one of the funniest men alive. From the truly bizarre Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos to Serial Mom and Pecker the man can do no wrong by me. I can’t imagine a more perfect choice to direct a film about the life and career of Herschell Gordon Lewis!

Who should play Herschell Gordon Lewis in the film based on his life?

I had a hell of a time coming up with someone who could play Mr. Lewis. My choice had to be age appropriate. The actor would be playing Lewis during the height of his career from age 31 to 43. I suspect this pick might be unpopular but I think Sam Rockwell would be a great choice. Granted, Rockwell doesn’t look much like Mr. Lewis but the magic of makeup should fix that right up. I think Rockwell is a really underappreciated actor. Rockwell was absolutely amazing as Sam Bell in 2009’s Moon, and his performance as Chuck Barris in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was inspired, and although I’m not a huge fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy I thoroughly enjoyed him as Zaphod Beeblebrox. He’s proven he can play quirky, funny and intense and I think he would play Herschell Gordon Lewis with humor and respect.

Herschell Gordon Lewis Filmography:

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002)
The Gore Gore Girls (1972)
Year of the Yahoo! (1972)
Black Love (1971)
This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! (1971)
The Wizard of Gore (1970)
Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In (1970)
Linda and Abilene (1969)
The Ecstasies of Women (1969)
How to Make a Doll (1968)
Just for the Hell of It (1968)
Suburban Roulette (1968)
The Alley Tramp (1968)
She-Devils on Wheels (1968)
The Magic Land of Mother Goose (1967)
Blast-Off Girls (1967)
The Girl, the Body, and the Pill (1967)
Something Weird (1967)
The Gruesome Twosome (1967)
A Taste of Blood (1967)
Jimmy, the Boy Wonder (1966)
Color Me Blood Red (1965)
Monster a-Go Go (1965)
Sin, Suffer and Repent (1965)
Moonshine Mountain (1964)
Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
Blood Feast (1963)
Scum of the Earth (1963)
Bell, Bare and Beautiful (1963)
Goldilocks and the Three Bares (1963)
Boin-n-g (1963)
Nature’s Playmates (1962)
Daughter of the Sun (1962)
The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961)
Living Venus (1961)
The Prime Time (1960)

5 Responses to “Directors Who Deserve A Film About their Life – Candidate #1 – Herschell Gordon Lewis”

  1. Excellent piece and great argument for a bio-pic on Mr. Lewis. John Waters is a superb choice because he clearly has the knowledge and respect for HG’s most notorious era of filmmaking. I’d kinda like to see HG play himself, though.

  2. A movie called “Godfather of Gore” was made about Lewis and released last week, directed by Frank “Basket Case” Hennenlotter, and John Waters appears in it. It’s a documentary, not a biopic per se.

  3. […] Directors Who Deserve a Film About Their Life #1 – Herschell Gordon Lewis There is no way I couldn’t love this entry. A movie about Lewis is a brilliant idea, […]

  4. […] Directors Who Deserve a Film About Their Life #1 – Herschell Gordon Lewis There is no way I couldn’t love this entry. A movie about Lewis is a brilliant idea, […]

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