Lights Camera Blood! (2015)
Lights … Camera …
Herschell Gordon Lewis is known as the “Godfather of Gore” because of his horror output during the Sixties and Seventies. While Mario Bava and the gentlemen at Hammer films may have a different view on the historical validity of this claim one thing is clear, no-one made movies as all-out gory as Herschell did at the time.
While he was gifted with a stroke of genius for going big on gore at a time when few dared he was not gifted with the art of storytelling. His movies do have a special place in many a gorehounds heart (including mine) but it is usually for this or that great scene rather than the total package.
So, when I found out that director Kevin Doherty had made what many were calling an homage to HGL I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. This could go one of two ways. Homage as clever pastiche or homage because it was simply as badly thrown together as some of the early exploitation features of the Sixties clearly were.
Fear not kids! Lights Camera Blood! is a wonderful blast of retro fun that takes everything one may have loved about trashy Sixties drive-in movies and delivers it with the humour pitched perfectly. I type humour and not humor because this is a Canadian production meaning that this is a movie filled with constant clever laughs. Canadian humour may not be as brassy and loud as American humor but it is equally as fun if you’ve the mind for it.
Oh, you want plot? Lower than low budget horror filmmaker Mandalor and his vaguely British hunchback cinematographer Rodney crank out laughably awful shorts with titles such as Rabid Babies From Outer Space in the hope of getting a distribution deal from sleazy, exploitation film producer, Gelstein of Gorrific Pictures. Geldstein gives the pair a vitriolic dressing down for their latest cinematic abomination telling them to leave and never return unless they can bring him “good” garbage that he can sell. The filmmakers leave to drown their sorrows in drink. What, oh what, could they possibly do to make their “creepy movies” different, to make them unique, to make them sell as good garbage? If you need a road map from here I can’t help you.
As witnessed in the blooper reel the makers of Lights Camera Blood! had a lot of fun making the movie which is only fitting because as a viewer I too had a lot of fun watching it. Lights Camera Blood! has the rare quality of being both a loving pastiche and a vast improvement on the very movies it is poking fun at.
Alan MacKenzie and Dan Baker-Moor stand out as the evil Mandalor and the hopelessly conflicted Rodney while the entire supporting cast look great, especially Heather Russell as the oh-so groovy looking Anne Thomas. Unlike the original Drive-In quickies of Herschell and friends this movie zips along because it is well written and doesn’t suffer from the seemingly endless filler that makes most of HGL’s originals almost painful to sit through these days.
Kevin Doherty has taken all the fun stuff, cut out the fat and the crap and turned it into a fresh new, er, old movie experience. Suffice to say the whole movie is a joy to watch as a gorehound. The gore effects are exemplary by Sixties “Drive-In” standards. Hats off to Emily Baxter and Gerick Schroeder for making the practical make-up effects ‘just’ bad enough to be perfect.
Ultimately one has to give mucho praise to Kevin Doherty who seems to have done just about everything else on the movie from directing through to producing, cinematography, and the music. It’s clearly a labour (sic) of love by someone who knows their subject matter well.
I have nothing bad to say about any part of this wunnerful feature and I look forward to seeing what Magic Toaster Productions deliver up next. File under Canuck cult perennial right next to the mighty Big Meat Eater (1982), Pontypool, Black Christmas (1974) and others choice treats from the land of Cronenberg.
Lights Camera Blood! delivers groovy, gory, over-the-top, retro-fun. Watch it with some fellow gorehounds and a couple of brewskies and you’ll have a blast!
A high PCT is required.
10 out of 10 (if you love Herschell Gordon Lewis).
Hero: Kevin Doherty.
Two word review: Bloody wonderful.
PS. Run, don’t walk, to the good people at SRS Cinema to see if they still have copies left of this oh so limited edition feature!