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Friday, March 6, 2020

Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania (2017)



I’ve known about this movie for a while now but avoided watching it. First it was the final project of one of my favorite directors, H.G. Lewis, which made me sad. This is the last new thing that I would ever see from him. Second it was an anthology with only two of the four stories being directed by him and I’ve heard bad things about the other segments. I really didn’t want the last new H.G. Lewis movie to be anything other than great. Eventually I sucked it up and checked it out.

The first story is directed by H.G. Lewis and is called Gory Story. It is a random bit of nonsense that basically exists to be bloody and do horrible things to the main character. Brewster has a hook for a hand and inexplicably it has a mind of its own. Basically, the hook makes him do terrible things on accident, mostly to himself. Though he has a hook because he tried to cut off his cheating girlfriend’s hand with a chainsaw and lopped his own off instead. So maybe he is just a klutz.

As one would expect from a story from H.G. Lewis this has a lot of gore in it. Brewster not only lops his hand off in a flashback, but he also loses an eye, gets puked on by a kid, and gets his legs run over. For the most part the effects work is practical but done on the cheap. The latter is important because that is what I want from an H.G. Lewis flick, lots of cheap gore. There is also a bad pun towards the end that made me groan and giggle simultaneously. So far, I’m digging the movie.

Next up is Attack of Conscience. Time for the first segment that Lewis didn’t have a hand in. This is an odd story where we see the same woman being killed by the man that she loves in different scenarios. She is killed in a car wreck that he causes, tossed off a roof, nailed to the wall and burned alive. It ends when he finally just shoots her. It all is very confusing until we realize that she is in a coma. Thru some narration by the doctor taking care of her we find out that she did something violent to the man and his new girlfriend before ending up in a coma. I guess what we see is her in purgatory of sorts, so I suppose the title makes sense.

This story seems like it wanted to be deeper than the budget allowed it to be. Attack of Conscience attempts to have a dreamlike vibe and explore the concepts of guilt and eternal punishment. Any chance as success is ruined by the lousy CGI gore, mediocre acting, and an inexplicably stupid end credits sequence that revisits this segment and kills any impact the story might have retained. I appreciate that this was an attempt to do something different, but it failed miserably.

H.G. Lewis returns as director for the next segment called The Night Hag. After seeing an older couple being killed by something mysterious, we see a new family has moved into the same home. The mother is disturbed by the house and warns her children not to fall asleep. Dad is obviously perturbed by this and sneaks some medicine into her drink so she can sleep. Big mistake as a creepy figure crawls out from the walls and starts to eat his wife’s hair! More weird stuff happens until the couple’s young daughters come to the rescue with some hair remover. I guess they were listening to Mom and were ready to do battle?

Now this is an H.G. Lewis movie!
Other than an odd choice of playing the death of the older couple as a sitcom, complete with a laugh track, this is by far the best entry. Ironically it also has the least amount of gore from the four segments. Lewis instead gives us a very creepy and scary story with a creature that is well designed and frightening. The Night Hag was done with the same low budget as the other stories but looks amazing on screen. While we do get on head ripped off as a highlight of the effects work what really pops the creature design. It is the star of this segment and kicks butt. I found it cool to see that even at the end of his career Lewis had other things to offer rather than just the over the top blood and guts that made him the Godfather of Gore.

Things end up with Gorgeous, a heartwarming story about an all-girl rock band and their homicidal manager who ends up killing everyone in sight. The girls are about to hit it big and decide to go with a younger and hipper representative who understands them and the audience better. But their old manager isn’t going to be tossed away so easily. His last day on the job is also the day they are going to shoot their big music video, so he decides that is as good a day as any to start killing them off. From here it becomes your typical stalk and kill flick. Nothing wrong with that and very satisfying.

This is the most “H.G. Lewis” of the bunch. Over the top gore with a killer spouting odd catch phrases and gleefully murdering his way thru the story. Hands get cut off, a throat gets slashed, intestines are pulled out, and damage is done to an eye! There is tons of nudity which is also fun. The killer, Gordo, keeps crowing “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” and acting like a fool as he commits his murders. Basically, being awesome in that over the top silly way that I want when watching anything with H.G. Lewis’ name on it. While I still dig The Night Hag the most this is a close second.

All four segments tied together with a wraparound of H.G. Lewis introducing and commenting on what we have just or are about to watch. I was very worried about Bloodmania being a poor way to say goodbye to a legend like Lewis, but they nailed it. Even my least favorite of the four isn’t horrible and the last two kick so much butt that they more than make up for it. This ended up being a great farewell to a legendary director.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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