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Herschell G. Lewis
Horror Interview by The Undertaker

1. How are things going with Blood Feast 2? I saw the tape you brought to Cleveland a few weeks back and it looked impressive.

I understand - and this is third-hand - that the producer, Jacky Morgan, finally has concluded a distribution agreement. Because the information didn't come from Jacky, I can't at this moment state which company will be distributing.

2. What type of release or distribution deal are you trying to get for the film?

My understanding is that three separate deals are involved - U.S. theatrical, foreign theatrical, and DVD.

3. Why did it take so long for you to make the sequel? Are you considering a part 2 for any of your other movies?

The time-gap was due partly to my feeling that the major film companies were usurping "playing time" and partly to my decision to have others handle financing and distribution. I'd like to re-make "The Wizard of Gore" … and as you know, I'd like to make a new one, "Herschell Gordon Lewis's Grim Fairy Tale," which I might re-title "Uh-oh!"

4. Many horror film fans consider you (I know I do) a pioneer of sorts for bringing gore to the big screen before any one else. How does that make you feel? Did you feel as though you were going where none had gone before with Blood Feast?

I certainly knew we were breaking new ground. I hadn't realized, nor had anyone realized, how profound a change we were initiating.

5. How important was David Friedman to the films he worked with you on?

Dave Friedman was my partner. We shared ideas and each learned from the other. On the early films, I was director and cameraman; Dave was producer and soundman. To this day, I regard Dave Friedman as the most innovative showman in the film business.

6. Many feel Two Thousand Maniacs is your best film. Do you?

"Best" or not, "2000 Maniacs!" certainly is my favorite. I feel the film plays well. Audiences respond to it on a level well above that of the typical slasher film.

7. If you had a big "Hollywood" budget to work with, what film of yours would you like to remake?

With a big budget, I'd re-make "The Wizard of Gore."

8. What did you do before getting into the movie business? How did you get into movie making?

I had been (and very much still am) in the advertising business. I bought a half-interest in a commercial film studio and bought 35mm movie equipment. My equipment - as old as it was - still was standard for feature films.

9. Your horror films featured some of the most outrageous gore scenes ever. Who came up with these gruesome ideas and who did the majority of the effects?

Everybody pitched in with ideas. For example, my son Bob, who was only eleven years old at the time, suggested the "Barrel-Roll" sequence for "2000 Maniacs!" Because no background existed for effects, much of what we did was raw experimentation. We had no choice for body parts - it was department store mannequins or nothing. We chanced onto chicken skin, a major discovery.

10. What do you think this generation will get out of Blood Feast 2? It certainly seemed a fun movie to have worked on huh.

Great question! This generation "gets it." I insisted on an approach that wasn't pure gore. The film is heavily laced with satire and black humor. What makes me happy is the reaction of viewers: They know what we were trying to do. They laugh at the proper time.

11. What are your thoughts or feelings about the major studios stance on horror films? Why are studios so reluctant to take risks and just keep rehashing the same old same old?

The major companies can't wheel and deal the way we can. Their overhead often precludes taking a chance. Their executives, their directors, and their stars are too ego-driven to submerge what they want to do underneath what audiences want to see. So their attempts at horror films become formulaic.

12. What was it like for you to see Connie Mason once again at the recent Cinema Wasteland show in Cleveland?

Connie hasn't changed.

13. Is there anything left in terms of gore that you think could shock people these days?

Not to worry. If I make another film, you'll see scenes that shock even today's sophisticated audiences. I can assure you, though: It'll be both gory and funny.

14. Films are marketed differently today than in the past. Do you miss the way it was done in the past, the radio spots, and the gimmicks people could come up with?

You bet I miss yesterday's marketing. But we can't linger in the past. We either adapt to what goes on today or get out of the business.

15. Who are some of the people in the horror business that you have admired over the years?

I don't remember who wrote and who directed the venerable film "The Wicker Man" … but those people have my profound admiration.

16. I have heard you say before that your pictures always did really well in the south. Why do you think that was? Do you miss the drive-ins?

Much of that kind of success lay in reading the mentality and attitudes of the audience. Today, with drive-ins gone and not lamented all that much, we have to aim intensively rather than extensively.

17. You have made lots of movies besides the gore/horror films. Did you enjoy making movies like Moonshine Mountain, the nudie cuties earlier on, and She-Devils on Wheels? Were these successful for you as well?

Next to "2000 Maniacs!" the film "Moonshine Mountain" is my personal favorite. "She-Devils on Wheels" did more business than any other film I made, except "Blood Feast."

18. Were you and your films much maligned when people 1st saw them? Was it hard to get the movies in a theater back then with so much blood?

I was regarded as an outlaw. Only the bravest theatres would play these pictures, because complaints were a certainty.

19. What can we hope to see from you down the road? What's life like for you these days?

I still am much involved in advertising and marketing and have written 26 books on those subjects. I have a penthouse residence in a glorious new high-rise building on the Fort Lauderdale ocean-front. I play tennis, go scuba diving, and travel much. It's a good life, at last.

20. Last question sir, Do you have anything, anything else at all you'd like to share with fans out there? Anything about the movie industry you care to gripe about, or any advice to filmmakers coming up?

The most significant advice I can offer, in an era in which everyone who owns a video camera seems to be making a digital film: Keep your ego out of it. Think in terms of one word: ENTERTAINMENT.

Official Web Site at www.herschellgordonlewis.com

find information about Herschell G. Lewis at imdb.com find horror stuff by Herschell G. Lewis

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