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Interview - Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton Interview - Hershell Gordon Lewis

Herschell Gordon Lewis:

Herschell Gordon Lewis (born June 15, 1929) has been known for the incredible amounts of gore put into his films since Blood Feast was released in 1963. He has been known as the "Godfather of Gore" ever since. Through the next few years, Lewis already created cult classics that have held their status decade after decade. His film titled Two Thousand Maniacs! was an exploitation film that has earned a remake and two sequels. In 1965, Color Me Blood Red was released and became known as part of the "Bloody Trilogy" along with Two Thousand Maniacs! and Blood Feast.

Numerous projects were being released each year by Herschell Lewis. In 1970, The Wizard of Gore was released and acquired an honor similar to that which "The Bloody Trilogy" had obtained. The Gore Gore Girls in 1972 marked the time when Lewis exited the spotlight for a while. He returned to the director's chair for Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat in 2002, which provided the goods that fans have been waiting for. Lewis currently resides in Florida and heads Lewis Enterprises, a direct-mail advertising company. He has become a name to always remember in both the marketing and movie businesses. Herschell Gordon Lewis will always be known as the "Godfather of Gore" to horror fans worldwide

Jeff: Entering the movie business, what was your major influence to focus on the horror genre?

Lewis: I quickly noticed a sameness among horror films – artificially-impending doom, falsely-documented suspense, music emphasizing the thinness of effects. Too, this was a category in which both screenwriting and acting talent seemed to be secondary to campaigns. The combination was grist for my creative mill.

Jeff: With 2001 Maniacs and 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams being released based off of your film Two Thousand Maniacs!, what are your opinions on the two films? I'm aware that you have some involvement in these two movies since you're listed as an executive producer for the sequel and worked on the soundtrack for both. What are your thoughts on the remake of The Wizard of Gore?

Lewis: I had ZERO involvement in any of those films, and listing me as an executive producer or soundtrack-whatever parallels thanking your mother for making it possible for you to produce your own children … or win an Academy Award. Any further comment I might make would be unfair because the logical assumption would be that I’m being competitive.

Jeff:What information do you know and are able to release about 2001 Maniacs 3: The Hillbillies Have Eyes?

Lewis: I’m totally outside whatever loop may exist. I know zilch about that project.

Jeff:While we're on the remake/sequel/reboot topic, do you find them to be necessary or simply that Hollywood has been running out of ideas?

Lewis: That’s a penetrating and logical question. I opt for the “running out of ideas” answer. In fairness, sequels can be budgetarily-logical investments.

Jeff: The Bloody Trilogy (Blood Feast / Two Thousand Maniacs! / Color Me Blood Red) is being released onto the Blu-Ray format on September 27, 2011. What are your thoughts on the Blu-Ray format and has Image Entertainment contacted you in an attempt for you to oversee the transfer?

Lewis: Thanks for reminding me. I’ll contact Image to ask what type of jointly-arranged exploitation may be in order. I’m much in favor of any step that enhances images and also represents a way to recruit new viewers.

Jeff: The 3D gimmick seems to have gone in and out of style over the years. If you were to remake your films (with bigger budgets of course), would you be interested or is it just an unnecessary gimmick you wouldn't want to be a part of?

Lewis: If the 3D effects add to cost, I’d rather spend any additional monies on additional movies. Having a knife-wielding arm slash out toward the audience wears thin quickly.

Jeff: Many horror filmmakers have been having issues with the MPAA lately stating that they're discriminating against independent filmmakers in the genre. Do you think that you would have issues with the MPAA in an attempt to receive an R rating with films such as Blood Feast in 2011?

Lewis: I agree that the MPAA seems to have its own 3D knife unsheathed and aimed at the independents, especially the low-budget horror film producers. Opinion: Lacking major studio backing, Blood Feast wouldn’t stand a chance of being “awarded” an R rating.

Jeff: What are your thoughts on how films are rated? Do you believe they treat more independent horror films more harshly than the mainstream features?

Lewis: Same answer I gave the previous question: Yes, they do. It’s hard to blame them for feeling we’re interlopers into their sacred territory and private reservation.

Jeff: Since you have gone into marketing, what do you think about the marketing/advertisement sides of the film industry? How do you think it changed over the years?

Lewis: I did and do believe that the marketing arm of almost every major (and minor) producer is deficient in the elements of showmanship and the ability to generate anticipation, let alone excitement. And too many trailers kill any prior enthusiasm or even neutrality toward spending money and time to see the movies they’re trying to sell. I’d like to conduct a workshop for these marketers.

Jeff: Looking back at each of the films you have created, which was the most enjoyable to make and why?

Lewis: I’m torn. I had a ball making the new movie (“The Uh-Oh Show”), even knowing, sadly, that I’d be excluded from negotiations with distributors. As a total experience, “Two Thousand Maniacs” was and is my favorite. It was as personally-controlled a movie as I’ve ever made, and I’m still called on, at horror/fantasy film conventions, to sing the title song.