Herschell Gordon Lewis – The Godfather of Gore – 2010

Godfather of Gore

Lately, I have been watching quite a few documentaries. Herschell Gordon Lewis – The Godfather of Gore is just one of the most recent ones. As a horror addict or at least very interested in movie history, the name Herschell Gorgon Lewis is not a new one for me. I’m fully aware of why he was and some of the most famous movies he did. Color me Blood Red, Blood Feast, The Gruesome Twosome, The Wizard of Gore, and so on. But what I didn’t know was about the early history, what made him a filmmaker, to begin with, and what were those early movies like?

In this film, directed by Frank Henelotter, which for me is most famous for the Basket Case trilogy, he investigates the life and crimes of this American Godfather of Gore. It’s a pretty interesting story and it’s nice to see that Mr. Lewis is in this documentary himself and talks about the old days. That he really wasn’t a moviemaker (which I already knew) but more or less stumbled upon the business. There’s no doubt in my mind that his ideas were created with the sole purpose to sell tickets. There’s nothing conscious artistic about his movies. In fact, he also confirms this is some parts of the documentary.

John Waters


I don’t think it’s a strict interview, I think it’s more of a seminar really where he explains and talk about what went on in those early days. Of course, since this is a documentary, even if it’s made before Herschell Gordon Lewis’ death in 2016, there are other people who were involved in the movie-making that are interviewed. And not only people involved. There are fans like John Waters speaking his mind. John Waters is really no surprise. I even see a lot of similarities between Hershell Lewis Gordon’s movies and those made by John Waters. Both made highly experimental movies without really knowing what they were doing. They made their own thing and didn’t care what anyone thought about it just as long as they made money from it.

I think John Waters especially likes those early movies that I have not seen or even heard about. Those movies really cannot cement the epithet of a Godfather of Gore. Those early movies seem to be more like nudist camp movies. Pretty innocent stuff by today’s standards. Mostly an excuse for showing topless women on camera. I guess we all go through that phase. Anyway, it’s fun to hear about this other side of Mr. Lewis that I didn’t know about. What really happened in the early days that lead up to this infamy that would come later on.

As a side note, many of us Europeans seem to contribute the title of Godfather of Gore not to Herschell Gordon Lewis but to the Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci. I guess we all have our thoughts about it.

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Tommy Snöberg Söderberg

Autodidact film scholar and music-loving thinker who reads the occasional book.

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