Thanksgiving is all about the turkeys. And, few men are as responsible for cinematic gobblers as Herschell Gordon Lewis. That’s no dis — just his demented, cemented reputation. In truth, HGL is an exploitation god. He’s crafted some prime insane-o cinema the likes of which continues to entertain across the generations. I can assure you no one is more shocked by this than the man himself. (R.I.P, HGL).

For me, these are the ones that hold up best, in no particular order. Feel free to prove me wrong.

The Blood Trilogy


This isn’t just HGL 101. It’s Exploitation 101. It’s Horror Movies 101. I’m going to guess you’ve seen it. If not, don’t advertise it. And, if it has been a while since you savored it, give it another watch. You get diabolical Egyptian caterers, hillbilly homicide, and a painter with a blood red palette, and gore galore. Looks like a cross between crime scene photos and a Technicolor sunny Florida Junior League gelatin salad cookbook. Impossible to beat.


Wizard of Gore


Herschell hated this movie. But, I’m pretty sure that was because the production was a real bitch. Don’t let the director fool you. This is a masterpiece of mayhem that never disappoints. Ray Sager’s portrayal of Montag the Magnificent is irresistible. And, the crackpot premise is a howler.


Blast-Off Girls


A crazy girl band rock n roll, a manager named Boujie Baker, and a cameo by the real Colonel Sanders… what more could you want in an exploitation film. Herschell made movies fast, and this is a great example of him attempting to capture entertainment lightning in a bottle.

A Taste of Blood


The Gone With The Wind of exploitation cinema. Or that’s how Herschell saw it, anyway. In truth, it’s a simple South Florida vampire story that rolls on a little too long. But it makes great exploitation move wallpaper, something to have on while you’re doing something else. It just puts a good, weird vibe into the room. You’ll also dig its time capsule properties, which reveal a kitschy world that once was. Most delightful is when Herschell himself appears as the Limey Seaman with a hilarious Cockney accent.

The Gore Gore Girls


After Wizard of Gore, Herschell wallowed in some unimpressive efforts. The lowest being his Afro-centric porn, Black Love. A definite turn off. But in 1972, he returned to horror with this doozy. It’s an ultra-bloody affair that boasts Henny Youngman, a doofus detective, assorted flavors of breast milk (!), and a glimpse at the campy direction Herschell would unveil decades later when he returned to moviemaking.


The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast


Can’t decide which dose you need? Don’t want to watch some of those old, crappy unrestored editions? My god, Arrow Video’s The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast solves that problem. It’s a dream come true for Herschell fans. 17 discs, 14 films (all on Blu-ray and DVD and introduced by HGL), the definitive Herschell documentary, and even a Herschell-themed kids activity book. Not just the best collection of his work, but one of the finest movie box sets ever made.







Andrew Allan
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