Blu-ray Review: Color Me Blood Red



When you get into the work of director Herschell Gordon Lewis, the first thing you’ll want to track down is his Blood Trilogy (also called the Gore Trilogy). The were the films that let drive-in screens and cinderblock grindhouses drip with gore. First was Blood Feast about Egyptian caterer. This was followed by Two Thousand Maniacs! about a magical Southern tourist trap. Color Me Blood Red heads into the art world where a painter learns what really makes his masterpieces pops with critics and collectors.

Adam Sorg is a struggling artist who is getting more and more frustrated at his career. Besides a lack of success in making any cash or developing his reputation, Adam can’t mix his paints to the level that he imagines in his head. Things get even worse when he goes down to a gallery only to hear critics being unimpressed by Sorg’s work. They really think his colors are unimpressive. This gets to the artist. But what can he do? Well back at his studio, he’s stressed out by this lack of hue. His girlfriend Gigi (Elyn Warner) cuts herself and drips a bit on a canvas. She apologizes to Sorg for messing up his work, but the artist realizes the blood is the color he’s needed. She’s not in to mood to give him a pint so he cuts himself to put himself in the work. While he gets the desired effect, the loss of blood makes him fatigued. When he’s about to get visit from the gallery owner, he panics since the painting isn’t finished. He takes a gory method to get the final bloodstrokes. The painting proves to be a success. Sorg needs to figure out a better scheme to get real blood for his future masterpieces.

Color Me Blood Red doesn’t have the manic energy found in Two Thousand Maniacs. This movie reflects the more sedate pace and tone found in the art world. This is a place were people amble from painting to sculpture, stare for long times and say something pithy. Lewis’ characters are very deliberate on the screen and take their time to say and do things. Unlike Blood Feast, there’s no detectives investigating the disappearance of the people who become human paint buckets for Sorg. The main source of tension is when will he paint his next big work.

Color Me Blood Red once more takes full advantage of smearing the color film in bright and oozing blood like in the previous two Herschell Gordon Lewis classics. This makes it a lot nastier than Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood which was black and white, but did have the advantage of the recently departed Dick Miller as the artist. Gordon Oas-Heim’s career had him in a few notable TV shows including six episodes of the New Monkees.

Lewis’ Blood Trilogy is unified by more than just being three rather grotesque films. The three films deal with fine dining, tourism and art. The things that make us feel sophisticated can also be used to dip into a nasty bloodlust for the people providing the experiences. Lewis gives us human slaughters in a caterer’s kitchen, a Southern celebration or the knotty pine studio of an artist. Color Me Blood Red paints another Lewis masterpiece where immortality can only be achieved in art.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the richness of the knotty pine paneling in the art studio. The audio is PCM Mono. The sound has the usual issues of shooting on location with a low budget. The movie is subtitled.

Something Weird (1967 – 80 minutes) is Lewis’ film about LSD. This is a weird film about a workman who gets his face messed up in an accident. His only chance to look normal is to love an ugly witch.

Introductions to the films by H.G. Lewis has him set up both films. He talks of how a teacher wrote the script for Something Weird.

Audio commentaries on both films feature H.G. Lewis. David Friedman joins him on Color Me Blood Red. Lewis goes into what went into both films to make them happen in the low budget world. Friedman seems happy that he and Lewis reunited after their split in the mid-60s.

The Art of Madness (5:35) a video essay on the recurring motif of mad artists as killers in horror films. The narrator traces things to Color Me Blood Red and includes Michael Caine’s The Hand and Driller Killer.

Weirdsville (10:31) features film scholar Jeffrey Sconce on Something Weird. He talks about how you can’t prepare yourself for the film even after seeing Lewis’ gore films.

H.G. Lewis on Jimmy, The Boy Wonder (2:10) is about the time he made a kid’s film. He made it for a woman who hosted a kiddie TV show in Chicago. They show clips from the film. Lewis talks about having a sense of humor in the exploitation business.

A Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge! (10:07) is a dance short from 1966. This is a rockin’ party that turns topless next to a drum kit.

Color Me Blood Red Outtakes (9:36) has more footage of the water bikes and audio from the police investigation that didn’t end up as part of the plot. There’s also more blood painting.

Color Me Blood Red Trailer (1:26) doesn’t hold back the blood. It does the “it’s just a movie” warning.

Something Weird Trailer (1:26) promises an ESP meets witchcraft film.

Jimmy, The Boy Wonder Trailer (1:39) promises a fun time. This might be the most frightening movie Lewis ever made. There’s even animation.

Arrow Video presents Color Me Blood Red. Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. Screenplay by: Herschell Gordon Lewis. Starring: Gordon Oas-Heim, Candi Conder, Elyn Warner,
Pat Lee and Jerome Eden. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 79 minutes. Released: February 19, 2019.

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