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review added: 4/21/00



The Blood Trilogy

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Blood Feast: Special Edition


Blood Feast
Special Edition - 1963 (2000) - Something Weird Video (Image)

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/A

Specs and Features:

67 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, outtakes, commentary track (with Something Weird's Mike Vraney, director Hershell Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman), gallery of exploitation art, Carving Magic featurette, theatrical trailer, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: none



Two Thousand Maniacs


Two Thousand Maniacs
Special Edition - 1964 (2000) - Something Weird Video (Image)

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B-/A

Specs and Features:

87 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, outtakes, commentary track (with Something Weird's Mike Vraney, Shock Video Company's Jimmy Maslon, director Hershell Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman), gallery of exploitation art, theatrical trailer, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: none



Color Me Blood Red: Special Edition

Color Me Blood Red
Special Edition - 1965 (2000) - Something Weird Video (Image)

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/A

Specs and Features:

79 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, outtakes, commentary track (with Something Weird's Mike Vraney, Shock Video Company's Jimmy Maslon, director Hershell Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman), gallery of exploitation art, theatrical trailer, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: none


In the early sixties, David Friedman and Hershell Gordon Lewis combined their various marketing and showman talents and gave to us the dawn of the splatter flick. It's a gift that's kept on giving for a very long time now. We have these two pioneers to thank for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and even Silence of the Lambs. They began their collaboration in this genre with the infamous Blood Trilogy and recently Image, in collaboration with Something Weird Video, has released these cult classics on DVD for our enjoyment. All put together, these three films pretty much rock as a look behind a genre of film that began with these films and continues today. Let's run 'em down one by one...

Blood Feast

Mmmm... nothing says loving like an Egyptian feast culled together by a bushy-browed madman bent on reanimating a 5,000-year-old goddess. Cooking up the parts of nubile young women he's killed, Fuad Ramses is catering a party thrown for toothy Connie Mason (ex-Playboy Playmate), where his cannibalistic plans are to come together. Mason is to be his final sacrifice - but not if Detective Pete Thornton can stop him.

This one is the first, and for all that it has going for it, the lesser film of the Blood Trilogy. Sure, it's got some slightly uncomfortable killing scenes - like an eye and leg getting hacked in a bathroom or a tongue getting ripped from the mouth of a screaming victim. But the acting and distracting filming technique keep it from really "holding up" in terms of age. Later, H.G. Lewis would create Wizard of Gore, which is a very disturbing piece of work regardless of its shortcomings. So Blood Feast isn't quite up to snuff (pun intended). I'm not going sit here and rip apart its camerawork, bad blocking or horrible acting. I think everyone knows how bad films like this can be and we will forgive them. Films this old and as seeped in cult notoriety are simply welcomed on DVD, so let's welcome it.

Blood Feast looks very good on disc. Better than anyone in their right mind would ever imagine. The source looks old, but it's surprisingly well rendered. Colors are deep, reds jump off the screen and the contrasts work well. On the audio side, we get a standard mono track that sounds pretty good. It's hard to really judge, because the original sound work was pretty poor. But what do you expect? For what these films are, I don't think you'll ever see a better version.

Something Weird and Image have gone out of their way with all the Something Weird titles, but these especially. Included on Blood Feast is a loop of outtakes (presented silent, with music from the film). These outtakes are set-ups, alternate shots or longer takes not used in the film. It's interesting, but not something I think everyone will watch. Something everyone will want to see however, is a short film entitled Carving Magic, staring Harvey Korman of The Carol Burnett Show. It's hilarious and disgusting, both at the same time, and it's definitely worth catching. Thrown in for good measure are a trailer and a gallery of artwork used to promote this film (and others like it). Both are an interesting look into the past and how films were exploited. Let's also not forget a grand commentary track. This one's hosted by Mike Vraney from Something Weird and the two filmmakers David Friedman and H.G. Lewis. Here is a commentary track that you will have fun listening too. These two guys go back and forth on whom they hated most in the film, how much fun it was to shoot, and how much they disagree on facts that happened close to 40 years ago.

Blood Feast is important for many fans of film. Not everyone will like it, but I know many people that should watch it at least once in their lifetime. It's fun, funny and pretty bad/good exploitation cinema. Just don't watch it while eating dinner. That would be a bad thing.

Two Thousand Maniacs

God bless rednecks. You've gotta love 'em. Rednecks are the glue holding society, American society in particular, together. Where there's racial injustice - there you will find the redneck. Drunken fights - a redneck is involved somewhere. Inappropriate sexual misconduct also shows signs of redneck tampering. Rednecks exist all across these United States. It seems they're more acknowledged in the South, but I've seen my share of Northern, Western and Middle American rednecks. I site Michigan Militiamen and the Los Angeles Police (circa O.J.) as evidence. It's surprising that more films don't focus on this thoroughly American icon. Well, thank the heavens we have H.G. Lewis.

Two Thousand Maniacs follows six innocent Northerners as they drive through Georgia, and are diverted to a small town. There they meet a whole village of people whoopin' and hollerin' about a festival - and these six people are the guests of honor. Playing along with it, these strangers take in the attention and are quickly off'ed one by one in imaginatively disgusting ways (rolled down a hill in a barrel lined with nails, crushed by a rock and pulled apart by horses). When it's all said and done, in a twist straight from The Sixth Sense, only two people survive and what they find out about the town will chill your soul.

Okay, the twist isn't that thrilling, but this movie is. This is by far the best of the Blood Trilogy, even if it does have some mechanical faults. The story and the acting are slightly better in this one than in the others and the killings are "fun". They're surrealistic enough not to be believed and it's all done with a wink and nudge, unlike today's "this could happen to you" horror. The faults are all source related. There are some flashes, missing frames and very bad sound work, but it has absolutely nothing to with the DVD quality. These are old films, and they have their problems.

The video and sound quality on this disc is as good as you're going to get it. The colors are solid (in most cases, again, when it falls out, it's a source thing) and the blacks are clean and deep. I did notice some artifacting that popped up in foliage and moving roads - but this is forgivable. The sound is also forgivable, even if the volumes and recording work come in and out with differing levels of quality.

Image makes up for these source faults by presenting us with good special edition material. As with Blood Feast, we have a trailer, outtakes, a gallery of promotional art and the commentary track that's worth the price of this disc. Added in is a French soundtrack that doesn't appear in any other of the Blood Trilogy discs. It's a bit louder that the English track, but it's free of the sound problems the English one has (not surprising).

Two Thousand Maniacs is worth a look for anyone with an open love for film. This is an oddity that I think more than a few out there would enjoy. Hey, there's worse films making billions of dollars today - you might as well spread it around to some pioneers that made your love possible.

Color Me Blood Red

Art can be a maddening business. The art world is full of crazy people, drunk people and people willing to do anything to make their point known. I'm not trying to generalize, because God knows there are plenty of well-adjusted artists out there. But their lives are boring. I'd rather hear about the crash and burn lives of rebel painter Jackson Pollack or Franz Klein, than about the airbrush artist at the county fair who paints sunsets with your name in cursive.

Color Me Blood Red is the story of Adam Sorg, a moderately successful Florida-based painter, who just can't get the right shade of red going. He tries and tries, but to no avail. Of course, everyone reading this can pretty much guess where the perfect shade of red might come from. Hell - it's right in the title. So, when Adam's girlfriend accidentally cuts her finger, and he dab, dab, dabs it on the canvas of his newest masterpiece, the beginning of the end comes into play. Adam starts to cut himself deliberately, and quickly finds that there's not enough blood in his body to finish the job. So Adam turns back to his nagging girlfriend and squeezes new life into his painting. Wink, wink. Of course, now he's the critics' darling (actually, there's just one critic involved in this town - capped in a little beret and perpetually stationed at what looks like the local high school playhouse). And of course the town's elite wants to own his work (again, there's only one elite town member, a bird-like woman who doesn't understand art, but knows she's supposed to own it). The rest of the film is a surrealistic foray into absurdity, that really needs to be seen to be fully comprehended. There's a murder involving a speedboat and two, uh... I guess they'd be water bicycles? I dunno, what the hell they are. This particular murder ends with a woman hung on a studio wall while Adam drains blood out of her from her intestines. I guess he needed a newer shade of red, 'cause blood ain't the only thing coming from there. Yeesh....

There's a climactic subplot involving the teenage daughter of the above-mentioned elite town member, who stumbles upon Adam and becomes his newest intended "subject". She's joined by a horny 35-year-old teenager and two beatniks. It's all so very odd.

This is the last film in the Friedman/Lewis Blood Trilogy, and frankly, it's not all that good, even put up against other exploitation films. The acting is bad, the set-ups are even worse and there's this 4-minute sequence that takes place in a car (with close-ups of the grill, wheels and interior) that just sits there like an open wound. Top that off with some bad gore scenes... and did I mention the bad acting? But with all that said, I did "enjoy" watching the film. That is to say, I didn't want to turn it off. Maybe that's the lasting nature of this film - it's so bad it's watchable.

It helps watching it on DVD. Blood Feast looks pretty great. There are some source print defects and some slight sound problems, but again nothing from the mastering end. Like the other films in the series, we get a trailer, exploitation art, outtakes and the always-enjoyable Friedman/Lewis commentary.

Color Me Blood Red isn't going to win any fans, but it's certainly a fun enough film that you can watch it with your friends. Take the whole set, invite 'em over and get yourself a pizza. A fun time can be had for all.

I don't know why I like exploitation films on DVD so much, but God help me, I do. Image did a wonderful job putting these discs out. Something Weird did an equally great job presenting these films. I can sing the praises of this set for years. It's getting to the point that I don't need a VCR anymore. With movies like these coming to DVD, I'm in film fan nirvana.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


Blood Feast: Special Edition


Two Thousand Maniacs: Special Edition


Color Me Blood Red: Special Edition


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