Having discovered that the drive-in audiences of the mid-sixties couldn’t get enough of his proto-gore flick Blood Feast, Herschell Gordon Lewis went on to plough similar territory throughout the next decade. Color Me Blood Red was his third film, but easily the weakest of his gore pics, lacking Two Thousand Maniacs’ comic book glee or The Wizard of Gore’s concentrated bloodletting.
It’s the only-slightly-interesting story of Adam Sorg (Gordon Oas-Heim, credited as Don Joseph), a tortured artist who’d rather destroy his paintings than sell them (even when offered thousands) and who is frustrated by his inability to find a shade of red to represent blood. When his long-suffering girlfriend cuts her finger, Sorg realises that only the real thing will do – she is quickly dispatched and Sorg starts to paint with her blood. The resulting picture is proclaimed a masterpiece, and Sorg starts to pursue his new ‘technique’ with vigour...
Even by the low standards of the genre he was working in, Lewis is a bad director. His reputation derives from the groundbreaking levels of gore and subversive comic touches his films contained, but unfortunately Color Me Blood Red has only a bit of the former and none of the latter. Lewis is hopeless at framing scenes – his only technique is to set up a stationary camera a good 20 yards away from the ‘actors’ and hope for the best; the level of background noise is so much that at times dialogue is rendered inaudible. Not that it’s really worth hearing, although there are some hilarious hammy lines from a hipster couple who discover a buried corpse on the beach... “Holy bananas! It’s a girl’s leg!” “Dig that crazy driftwood!”
The paintings that occupy Sorg’s studio are (a) rubbish and (b) bear absolutely no resemblance to each other... this artist is either a master of different styles, or more than one painter has been at work! If Sorg refuses to sell his paintings how does he afford that swanky beach house? And why would his girlfriend stay with such an abusive, unattractive misery? Who knows? Not me. Worth a few chuckles, but generally more arse than art.
American writer-director-producer of low budget exploitation movies who helmed everything from nudist flicks to children's stories, but with the release of Blood Feast his reputation as the Godfather of Gore was made. He followed this with Two Thousand Maniacs!, Color Me Blood Red and The Gore Gore Girls, among others, then left the business to pursue a career in marketing; he returned thirty years later with Blood Feast 2. Lewis' generally poor production values, amateur actors and shaky plotting are all forgiven by his fans.