"Godfather of Gore" Herschell Gordon Lewis Dies at 87

Herschell Gordon Lewis, known as the "Godfather of Gore" due to his pioneering work in splatter films, died yesterday in his sleep at his home in Pompano Beach.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Lewis eventually settled in Fort Lauderdale. Though his early career included teaching English literature at Mississippi State University, working in radio and television advertising, and filming faux nudist documentaries, Lewis made his mark directing and composing for trailblazing films like Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, The Gruesome Twosome, and Color Me Blood Red. These dark, campy movies focused on severed body parts, buckets of blood, nudity, and a level of carnage previously unseen on film. A character in John Waters' Serial Mom calls Lewis the "Citizen Kane of gore," and James Gunn Tweeted that Lewis "changed cinema."

New Times devoted a long profile to Lewis in 2002.

Filmed in Miami, Blood Feast tells the story of an Egyptian caterer named Fuad Ramses who murders women in order to use their body parts in his extravagant meals. The 1963 flick, with its extravagant scenes of violence and gore, is widely considered the first splatter film. It was followed in 2002 by a sequel, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat. In addition to directing with David Friedman, Lewis drew from his musical background to pen songs like "Eyes Gouged Out/Legs Cut Off!," "Brains Knocked Out," "Tongue Torn Out," "Ancient Weird Religious Rites," and "Leftovers."
Lewis took a break from films after The Gore Gore Girls (1972) to devote himself to writing and direct-to-mail marketing.

Gordon was 87.
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.