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Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore is a 2010 American documentary feature film exploring the career of the titular filmmaker. It was directed by Frank Henenlotter (Bad Biology; Frankenhooker; Brain Damage; Basket Case and sequels) and Jimmy Maslon.


“For many of us, Herschell Gordon Lewis will always be one of horror’s shining stars. Sure, his films were crudely shot, poorly acted, and, in some cases, are now horribly dated, but that’s what makes them so great. Despite the fact he had next to no money to work with, Lewis still managed to create an entire sub-genre that remains as relevant today as it was back then.” 2,500 Movies Challenge

John Bloom aka Joe Bob Briggs

“If you’ve ever seen one of Lewis’ movies, most notably Blood Feast, you know that they can get a little slow and boring at times. This isn’t the case with the documentary about Lewis himself. Even when the focus in on movies that no one’s ever heard of, Lewis’ enthusiasm (as age 81) is still infectious. Those who know Lewis are going to love this movie, and those who don’t will be intrigued by the wackiness involved.” DVD Sleuth

” …there are clips here from lost material that has never been seen before. For the newcomer, it may prove something of an eye-opener (or, indeed, an eye-popper), as it places Herschell’s work in its proper socio-political context. In a sense he was pursuing the American dream […] If there is a weakness to this film, it’s that it’s rather too long, and later scenes don’t always have the impact of the early ones…” Eye for Film


“H.G. Lewis fans can’t go wrong with Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore, which captures the excitement of making underground films about forbidden subjects which shocked and horrified contemporary sensibilities. As Lewis tells us, “That was the entire intent, to make something outrageous. And in that respect, yes, we did succeed.” To which Friedman adds: “We had fun.” HK and Cult Film News

“What Henenlotter and Maslon achieved here was to recreate the atmosphere generated by their subjects that it comes across as homage more than critical dissection. You might feel that a documentary should be more objective and normally I would agree. In this case, the one-sided approach is acceptable since the goal and viewpoint is stated up front; no deception inherent in this piece.” Home Theater Info

Filmmaker – and Herschell Gordon Lewis fan – John Waters

“As someone who’s never seen an HGL movie and who doesn’t plan on it, I still whole-heartedly (severed, but not sliced) recommend this very well-made doc that serves as a quick-fry education on splatter cinema from the days of yore, as well as a fun look back at what movie-making and film distribution was once like.” Horror.com

” …as it progresses, it becomes somewhat less satisfying and eventually we realize that it never digs below the surface to examine any deeper significance in what Lewis did and the lasting effects he has had on popular culture. It merely takes for granted that gross-out gore is fun and leaves it at that…” Rough Cut

Gail Janis in A Taste of Blood (1967)

“Henenlotter brings a great sense of levity to the proceedings, even interjecting interview segments with himself into the documentary, explaining just how awful many of Lewis’ films really were. Lewis and Friedman are also very candid about the material and more than happy to admit when they were making junk, it feels good to watch a filmmaking team acknowledge that it wasn’t that their work was misunderstood when the fact is that some of it was just bad.” Screen Anarchy

She-Devils on Wheels (1968)

“Henenlotter and Maslon really ought to have done more to chart Lewis’s influence. He is the quintessential grindhouse hustler, a real American independent filmmaker and yeah, a creator of totally soulless dreck. Focusing on that last part of Lewis’s scuzzy legend will only get you so far.” Slant magazine

Ray Sager as Montag the Magnificent in The Wizard of Gore (1968)

“I’m glad Lewis was alive long enough to film this. Henenlotter shows all sorts of love and appreciation for the man as this is about as spot-on of a tribute as one could hope for. Just hearing him sit around and tell stories about the making of the films would’ve been enough, but it’s the care and heart that went into the feature that really shines through.” The Video Vacuum


Mal Arnold … Self
John Bloom aka Joe Bob Briggs … Self
Jerome Eden … Self
David F. Friedman … Self
Frank Henenlotter … Self
Daniel Krogh … Self
Herschell Gordon Lewis … Self
Connie Mason … Self (archive footage)
Steven Poster … Self
Andy Romanoff … Self
Ray Sager … Self
Vincent Santo … Self
Kevin Thomas … Self
Catherine Thornton … Puppet show attendee
John Waters … Self
Bunny Yeager … Self

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