March 19, 2015

WYH Recap: 12/11/2014- Herschell Gorden Lewis and James Saito @withoutyourhead @BloodMania

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Recap of Herschell Gordon Lewis on
Without Your Head Horror Radio, 12/11/2014
by Vic Schiavone

Herschell Gordon Lewis on Without Your Head Horror Radio, 12/11/2014
Interview On YOUTUBE and WYH

Hosts Nasty Neal, Annabelle Lecter, and Terrible Troy welcomed “The Godfather of Gore” Herschell Gordon Lewis.  Herschell, along with producer James Saito, participated in a roughly 75-minute interview which centered around the new anthology film “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania”, which is due to be released in Spring 2015.

Highlights included the following:

WYH:  What made you decide to get back into making films?
HGL:  “This is what I do.  I have a good time; I enjoy the business immensely…I feel too many of the movies today are…the word I use is “derivative”.  You think you’re watching the same movie over and over and over again.  Besides which, they lack a total sense of humor.  I think the industry has gone far enough now that that is an element that we can add profitably both from our point of view in getting people to look at it and from their point of view so after they’ve screened this thing, whether it’s in a theater, or in their bedroom, or on the little handheld device which I still don’t understand as an entertainment medium.  After that, they do not say ‘Yeah, I’ve seen all that before.’  They don’t say that with “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania.””  
WYH:  Was it always important to you that at the end of the day there was some humor in your films?
HGL:  “When I shot “Blood Feast”, “Blood Feast” has a couple of distinctions.  First of all, it was the first splatter film ever by anybody since motion pictures were invented back by Edison or somebody.  Second, it had to be one of the cheapest movies anybody ever made, and the combination of that is quite bizarre.  And yet, with all those limitations, “Blood Feast” has a spot in history. And after I saw that movie, having cut it, and being forced to screen my own work, which is like forcing a dog to eat its own excrement, I said to David Friedman (who was my partner at the time), 
“What if we made a decent one?”...So we shot “Two Thousand Maniacs!”, which was the first one that had even an overtone of humor.  I would sit anonymously in theaters…just as though I was somebody who walked into the theater and look for audience reactions…When I looked at that, I saw what got people to move slightly in the chairs, to shift upward a bit. 
They were expecting something different, and we gave it to them with little touches of humor. Eventually, with a movie I made called “The Gore Gore Girls”, humor and gore became 50/50 partners, and that taught me something else about this business.  Anybody over the age of let’s say 45 or 50 felt we should be executed.  Anybody under the age of 45 or 50 said ‘Hey that was entertaining’.  Well, that’s something I hadn’t expected about one of my pieces of crap; that somebody would say it’s entertaining.  So, it gave me another dimension on this kind of movie.”
WYH:  What was your reasoning behind wanting to do an anthology film?
JS:  “We had initially discussed doing a feature film that Herschell had written a script for, but for various reasons it didn’t quite work out in a timely fashion…Herschell and I started talking and we said, ‘OK, let’s try the anthology route’.  It just kind of developed from there.
There was certain criteria that we decided we had to have, and we went through various writers, various producers joining the team at various points, but finally we ended up coming up with four stories that are distinct.  All of them kind of pay homage to various genres.  There’s one that’s very 80’s splatter, one that’s just a straight-out horror tale, one that’s a comedy, one that’s a psychological thriller.  The combining thread in them all is of course the Herschell-style gore, and we were trying very hard to have like a Twilight Zone ending to each of them.”
WYH:  How many of the stories were you involved with?
HGL:  “I wrote one front-to-back, I directed two of them, and the other two were directed by people Jim will tell you about…I was first…opposed to the notion, because I felt that the whole project was resting in too many sets of hands.
Since then, I’m come to believe something altogether different…and that is that in a movie like this, where you have four episodes each of which is totally different from the other three, somebody may screen this thing and say, ‘Well, I sure didn’t like that one, but the others…’.  It gives you another shot at them…It gives them many a chance to like what we did even though they may dislike one of the episodes in there, because each of them appeals to a different emotion…I’m just very pleased to have been associated with this one.”

Other topics discussed included:
What was it about “Bloodmania” that made him decide this was something he wanted to be a part of?
Who were the other two directors involved in “Bloodmania”?
Who or what inspired him to get into movies in the first place?
When he started out doing these movies how hands-on was he with the gore effects?

For further information about “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania”, go to their website, visit their Facebook site, or contact them on Twitter at @BloodMania. 

Be sure to check out the WYH Facebook Group and join in with Neal, Annabelle, and the rest of the headless ones.