Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania review


By David Dent

Herschell Gordon Lewis, the Godfather of Gore, who died in 2016 at the age of 90, was not a film maker known for his subtlety. The director of such classics as Blood Feast (1963), Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) and The Gore Gore Girls (1972) steeped his movies in animal entrails and fake blood to turn a quick buck and get audiences talking.

So one was hardly expecting his final movie (or the one he was working on when he successfully threw a six) to be any change to the tried and tested formula.

But as a swansong BloodMania is frankly rather an embarrassment, and makes the worst of his other work look like Citizen Kane by comparison. This is a nominally humorous anthology movie which even Lloyd Kaufman would have rejected.

The stories have no connection except for Lewis, introducing each segment and singing the rather cringeworthy theme tune. By the time he died HGL had already directed two of the four films, although quite how involved he was in them I’m not sure.

The first, ‘Gory Story,’ is a single lame joke about a loser with a hook for a hand, which has a life of its own, primarily an exercise in shoddy gore and gross out. A coma victim’s recurrent nightmare in ‘Attack of Conscience’ is the most straightforward of the segments (although its seriousness and obliqueness puts it out of step with the rest of the movie); ‘The Night Hag,’ with a witch scaring a suburban family, is marginally better but marred by some atrocious acting (and that’s saying something in this film); and the final story, ‘GOREgeous’ – about an all-girl band and a vengeful, self-harming manager – is simply pitiful.

This is distributed by Diabolique Films, an offshoot of the magazine of the same name, whose previous offerings have been a couple of Hammer documentaries. They need to think very carefully about the type of movies they pick up, as it’s just not enough to peddle this nonsense on the back of the reputation of a notorious film maker. Very, very poor.

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