Gods of Grindhouse
BearManor Media, 2013. 169 pages.
Edited by Andrew J. Rausch
I know everyone out there knows the name of Roger Corman. But what about Ted V. Mikels? Or Ray Dennis Steckler, Jack Hill, or Bill Rebane? These gentlemen, plus a few more, are the names covered in this very important book. The guys are from the filmmaking industry that I feel are much more important than the likes of Michael Bay. Why? Simple. There movies are something you will remember and will stand the test of time. Each generation will discover and be entertained by them. Without the talented craftsmen discussed in this volume, there would be no Quentin Tarentino. So while their movies may be the jest of places like MST3K, that doesn’t take away from what their films are about, as well as the people that struggled to get them made and distributed.
I know I preach over and over on this site about how important it is to know your history when it comes to the genres, but I wouldn’t keep saying it if I really didn’t believe it. So many younger filmmakers, such as the previous mentioned Tarantino, grew up watching the films from these guys, being inspired to make their own mark with their films. So yes, it is VERY important to know these guys and their work. And this book is a great way to start.
One thing is for sure about 2016, we have lost way too many genre favorites. From actors to directors to artists to cinematographers and everyone else in between….just way too many. There were some that I consider icons, such as Herchell Gordon Lewis, who paved the way for thousands of young filmmakers. Actor Don Calfa appeared in so many sitcoms and movies but was still able to come up with so many wonderful characters. Then we have Angus Scrimm, who really only appeared in a handful of features, but it only took one role for him to forever be remembered in the hearts of us horror fans. And while actor/writer Gene Wilder was mainly known for his comedic side, along with Mel Brooks, he gave us one of the best tributes to the classic Frankenstein pictures.
There are a few filmmakers out there that make one film that makes a lasting impact. Then there are those out there that make a film that actually creates a whole new sub-genre! Even more impressive when that particular film is not….shall we say a “well crafted” production? But on the other hand, if you look at how it was made, and for the budget it had, and then how much money it actually made at the drive-ins, then the quality of the picture really has nothing to do with it. Of course, I’m talking about Blood Feast, directed by the one and only Herschell Gordon Lewis. He would go on to create more and more of these new ‘gore films’ giving the audiences something they had never seen before. The philosophy that he and his partner Dave Friedman came up with was simple: ” We strived to make films that either the majors couldn’t, or wouldn’t make.” And that is exactly what they did. Two Thousand Maniacs followed Blood Feast and was an even bigger hit. And the films kept coming and the blood kept spilling.
A Taste of Blood: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis
By Christopher Wayne Curry
Published by Creation Books, 1999. 252 pages.
What do titles like Sting of Death, Stanley, Mako: The Jaws of Death, Wild Rebels, The Naked Zoo, Death Curse of Tartu, Impulse all have in common? They were just a handful of the films directed by Florida based filmmaker William Grefé! And now, the incredible history of this low budget filmmaker comes to the screens in this new feature lenght documentary, thanks to Ballyhoo Motion Pictures this April!
While other low budget directors were running off the the sunny skies of California to make their independent pictures, William Grefé stayed in the other sunny part fo the country, in Florida everglades area and made that his own little Hollywood. There he created about sharks, snakes, a jellyfish man, bikers, and many more titles that were sure to lure them into the drive-ins. And he always delivered.