Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

September 18, 2011

Movie Review: The Blood Trilogy (1963-1965, Blu-Ray)

For the better part of twenty years now, Something Weird Video has unleashed the rare, the sexy, the gory and the just plain ridiculous upon VHS, DVD owners and now, amazingly, the Blu-Ray market. Yes, I said it, Something Weird Video is now releasing titles in high-definition! These aren’t obscurities like Doctor Doom, The Atomic Brain and Johnny Firecloud but four of the biggest titles in their library – Basket Case and Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Blood Trilogy (Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red). I’ve been waiting for the day to see HG Lewis’ most famous films on the Blu-ray format, and now it’s here.

Blood Feast is the story of a psychotic caterer named Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold) who enjoys going around town hacking up borderline retarded buxom beauties (including Playboy tart, Connie Mason) so that he can bring back a dormant Egyptian goddess. Ramses is hired to put together a feast to end all feasts, which gives lecherous creep that much more reason to make the bodies pile up. These women make for some good cookin’. Shot in nine days (and it shows), Blood Feast maintains the mantle as the first “gore” film and until someone unearths a pre-1963 splatter film, it should stay that way.

Lewis’ second film, 2000 Maniacs, is quite an improvement on the astonishing amateurishness of Blood Feast.  The acting isn’t any better, as two of the main players, Connie Mason and Thomas Wood (Bill Kerwin) return to give more of their historically wooden performances. We do have a fun script here,  improved pacing, goofy humor, and some fairly clever deaths.
A Florida town is a hosting a celebration during the anniversary of the Civil War. Six vacationers (Thomas Wood, Jerome Eden, Connie Mason, Shelby Livingston, Michael Korb and Yvonne Gilbert) are invited to the shindig by the highly hospitable, Mayor Buckman (Jeffrey Allen). Sounds fun, ay? Well if your idea of fun is getting dismembered via horse, rolled down a hill in a barrel full of nail and having a gigantic rock dropped on your noggin, this may just be your thing. Aside from the splatter, genuine southern locale and the humor, Jeffrey Allen steals the film as Mayor Buckman. You can tell he’s having a blast which is  cool since a few of the others appear to be mailing it in.

Color Me Blood Red borrows immensely from Roger Corman’s Bucket of Blood. There really isn’t an argument there. The difference here though is – you guessed it!- the graphic gore. Adam Sorg (Don Joseph) is a struggling painter looking for something to get him notice. Little does he know it’s at the end of one of his irritating gymnast girlfriend’s finger. After slicing Mary Lou Retton’s digit he finds a wonderful shade of crimson that may just make his paintings the talk of the town. Not quite as enjoyable as Two Thousand Maniacs as but more fun than Blood Feast, Color Me Red Blood throws out an interesting blend of gore and guffaws.
All the supplementary material from the initial releases from 2000 are all here. Outtakes for Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red, The short film Carving Magic (starring CHC favorite and HG Lewis regular, Bill Kerwin) and the surprisingly sleazy Follow That Skirt is also included. Follow That Skirt is a pretty bloody psycho-on-the-loose type short that’s perfect for this kind of set. The ending to this short is head-scratchingly awesome.

Most importantly though, the outstanding commentaries by Herschell Gordon Lewis, David Friedman have been transferred over for this Blu-ray edition. You get to hear a lot about their humble beginnings, mishaps on set and of course their inevitable break-up. All three are very funny, packed with information and thankfully moderated well by Something Weird Video’s, Mike Vraney.

The quality of all three features is a definite improvement on their DVD predecessors. It’s most noticeable on Blood Feast though. The colors are so much more vibrant and detailed. It’s apparent early to when Ramses kills his first victim in the tub. You can see greasy Fuad’s brow practically drip into your lap. Color Me Blood Red also looks very good as is Two Thousand Maniacs. Across the board as compared to the 2000 releases these look very sharp. It’s kind of surprising since the three films (including extras) are on one Blu-ray disc.

The Blood Trilogy is an excellent Blu-ray debut by Something Weird. It’s also priced right too - you can easily get this set for under $15 bucks! Hopefully we can see titles like The Gore Gore Girls, Wizard of Gore, Blood Freak and other oddities from the vast Something Weird catalog get this kind of treatment.

Blu-ray screencaps courtesy of the fine folks at

No comments:

Post a Comment