Hooray For Herschell
It's generally acknowledged that Herschell Gordon Lewis was the "Sire of Splatter," or as another writer dubbed him, "The Godfather of Gore." While his predecessors doled out the blood with an eyedropper and were--for the most part--fairly discreet about graphic violence, H.G. dispensed the red stuff by the bucket while zooming in for a close-up of a woman getting her tongue yanked out...all in vivid color.
Subtle he wasn't; successful, he was: the Sixties drive-in crowd couldn't get enough of Hersch's hijinks. 1963's Blood Feast and the following year’s Two Thousand Maniacs have become legendary in junkfilm circles, and the incredible Something Weird (1966) inspired the name of a cult video line. That's not to say all of Lewis' grue reviews are keepers--The Wizard Of Gore is more like The Wizard Of Bore--but one you'll definitely find on the shelves at the Stately Estate is H.G.'s splatter swansong, The Gore Gore Girls (1972).
Hersch's better pics are not only drenched with plasma, they have a thick slice of perverse humor as well. And the maiming methods are so over the top, you'll feel like losing lunch and laughing. After such charming scenes as a girl getting her face shoved into a pot of boiling French Fry grease, GGG unleashes one of the most outlandish mutilations ever committed to celluloid. A victim has her nipples cut off: out of one breast comes milk; out of the other, CHOCOLATE MILK! Sure, the act is sick, yet the consequence is so silly, you can't help but giggle.
Further indications that Lewis is mixing grins with his sins? The detective investigating the horrific homicide is supposed to be a lady-killer in the other sense; however, the actor playing him comes off as such a misogynistic dandy, he'd have a tough time attracting a fag hag. And H.G. included a cantaloupe-smashing Vietnam vet who--for once--is not the psychotic slayer.
You get all this, plus lots of topless tootsies; and, if that's not enough, there's even live footage of Henny Youngman doing his schtick!! My only disappointment is that Lewis failed to have the king of Borscht Belt corn say "Take my knife...please."
Like Clockwork Orange, Gore Gore Girls was among the first films to receive the absurd X rating for its violence rather than its flashes of femme flesh. Nearly a quarter-century later, it still packs a punch to the pancreas and may tiptoe the line between R and NC-17. One thing's for certain: while Lewis went on to a lucrative career in advertising, the Dairy Council NEVER considered employing him to create any of those "Milk-it does a body good" ads!
Prefer your carving more current? A fine modern counterpart to Herschell's hoot is Street Trash (1987), brought to us by the folks at Lightning Pictures (and featuring R.L. Ryan of Toxic Avenger and Class Of Nuke ‘Em High fame). The 'Nam vet is a psycho slaughterer in this one; but the killer making the most mess here is a case of ancient hooch a skid row liquor dealer is selling to junkyard alkies for a buck a bottle. Whomever takes a swig of the budget booze mel ts into a puddle of slime soon thereafter. Now that's real rotgut.
Lorinz and Darrow, tag team of the year
As enchanting as Trash’s cinematic scenes are (including the infamous round of "Toss the Tool"), the flick is stolen by Tony Darrow as Mafia wannabe Nick Duran and especially by James Lorinz as the smart-aleck doorman at Duran's club. The wise guy and his wiser guy show up in the last third of the film for three scenes, each progressively more entertaining than the last. And if you're the sort to skip end credits, DON'T...lest you miss Darrow crooning a hilarious "My Way"-type goomba anthem.
(Memo from Manor: If you like Lorinz in Trash, be sure to check out 1990's Frankenhooker where he's excellent as the male lead.)
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