Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the so-called Blood Trilogy of the director Herschell Gordon Lewis: Blood Feast (1963), Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), and Color Me Blood Red (1965). I say “so-called” because that’s not a name Lewis himself used. They were only dubbed a trilogy later by a new distributor. In fact they have little in common but blood.
Lewis if often credited — and even more often credits himself — with having “invented” gore. Whatever the case may be, most of his movies are very bad: cheap exploitation work that only just clear a low bar of competence. That said, Two Thousand Maniacs! deserves its reputation as a cult classic. It’s a genuinely disturbing movie, and it got the ball rolling (downhill?) on a lot of later trends in horror, like the murderous rednecks and the showrooms of theatrically staged killings. Maybe we didn’t need to go here, but we did and Lewis in many ways drew us the map.