|Owen: Happy belated birthday
Mr. Lewis! How does it feel to be known as The Godfather of Gore?
I think its an absolute hoot, and
I have no intention of abandoning that honor,
When you made the groundbreaking blood drenched
classics Blood Feast
and Two Thousand Maniacs
did you purposely set out to break taboos or push
the limits of film?
yes and partially no. I set out to produce a film
the major companies either couldnt make or
wouldnt make. But at the same time, I had
to realize that the project would be an exercise
in futility if no theatres would play the
pictures. So what resulted was an exquisite
amalgam of showmanship, icon busting, and
You went so beyond the limits of
the time. What was before that --- Psycho?
And that was black and white blood swirling down
a drain and clever editing. So when you did
something like that tongue scene (from Blood
Feast) did you realize it would
cause such a sensation?
Gordon: Even when
cutting that scene, I had qualms that wed
gone too far. This many years later, I still am
amazed that we were able to show that scene at a
time when so many censor boards and critics were
aghast at our brassiness.
At the time (1963) did any censorship or
right-wing groups try to block the release of the
films? Did you get much flack on that end?
actually originated some of the censorship, which
hadnt pre-existed because no one had dared
to film such scenes. To this day, Im a
target of right-wing bluenose flak.
Somewhat going along with the censorship
issue, did you have any problems finding a venue
to show the movies?
Gordon: Once the
word was out that Blood Feast was breaking box office records, we had no
trouble booking the picture. I never had any
illusion about cracking the movie
palace barrier but aimed distribution at
smaller theatres and drive-ins.
Your films were also noteworthy for turning out
the production on a minimal budget. For example Blood Feast cost $24,000
(and made 4 million). Any cost tips for those
guerilla filmmakers out there that are looking to
follow in your footsteps?
Gordon: Plan every
shot. Dont shoot rehearsals. Be sure every
cast and crewmember is dedicated to the project.
And however you shoot, dont hand-hold the
Do you have an overriding memory from
filming those classics?
Gordon: Many, but recounting would be book-length. We had
a good time, and I pity filmmakers who
Color Me Blood Red is
another favorite of mine. Since you also wrote
the screenplay, was the fact of having an artist
who painted with blood a commentary on high art
or was it just a cool gore tactic?
A penetrating question! Both. It was my
way of getting even with the phony art-poseurs.
Owen: You wear so many hats in your films you
usually produce, direct, write, do the
cinematography, compose, do sound, production
design, narrate, even sing! Was the decision one
of budget or control or a little of both?
Gordon: Budget was
the determinant. I never considered myself an
So what films in the past decade or so, which
fall into the gore/horror/slasher genre, have
Very few. Attention seems to be to devices and
electronic effects, not to having the audience
In 2002 the time came for Blood
Feast 2: All You Can Eat. What was
the hardest thing about being back in the
drivers seat after transitioning from
directing in 1972 after The Gore
was hard nothing. I had a crew. I
didnt have to load the camera. The
equipment wasnt obsolete. I watched the
action on a TV monitor. Altogether, I had a
John Waters also makes a cameo appearance in the
movie. I knew he was a fan of the original when
he included a clip in Serial
Mom. How did his appearance in the
movie come about?
Gordon: John had
invited me to a film festival in Baltimore a few
years before. At the time, he said, I owe
you. For Blood Feast 2 I
collected. He is a gentleman and a true friend.
Owen: So can we expect a second flowering
of HGL the director? Do you have more projects
like to make Grim Fairy Tale
and the first legitimate producer who pops
to the surface will get it.
Owen: Thanks so
much for your time. Great talking to you Mr.