DVD Verdict
Home About News Blu-ray DVD Reviews Upcoming DVD Releases Contest Podcasts Forums Judges Contact  

Case Number 22382: Small Claims Court

Buy The Blood Trilogy (Blu-ray) at Amazon

The Blood Trilogy (Blu-ray)

Blood Feast
1963 // 66 Minutes // Not Rated
Color Me Blood Red
1964 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Two Thousand Maniacs
1964 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Image Entertainment
Reviewed by Judge Ike Oden (Retired) // September 27th, 2011

• View Judge Oden's Dossier
• E-mail Judge Oden
• Printer Friendly Review


Every purchase you make through these Amazon links supports DVD Verdict's reviewing efforts. Thank you!




 

All Rise...

Color Judge Ike Oden candy apple red.

The Charge

"A nightmare of pure gore in BLOOD COLOR."

The Case

Celluloid gorehounds will forever be in debt Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman, whose seminal sickie Blood Feast started splatter cinema as we know it today. Without Lewis and Friedman, there would be no John Waters (Serial Mom), Peter Jackson (Dead Alive) or Frank Henelhotter (Basket Case). Films like Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, and Color Me Blood Red changed the landscape of horror movie filmmaking, not because they were well directed, acted, or produced—but because they dared to combine sex, blood, and guts in a way no other filmmakers had yet dared. Image and Something Weird Video collects these Lewis/Friedman joints together on Blu-ray for the first time with The Blood Trilogy:

Blood Feast
An Egyptian antiquarian, Fuad (Mal Arnold, Vampire Cop), is contracted to cater a party for nubile good girl Suzette (Connie Mason, 1977's Sudden Death). Unbeknownst to her Fuad is slashing a spree of grisly murders across their fair city, saving the body parts to resurrect an Egyptian goddess. While Suzette's idiot cop boyfriend (William Kerwin, God's Bloody Acre) hunts for the killer, she ignorantly finds herself next on his chopping block.

Two Thousand Maniacs
Blonde Terry Adams (Mason) picks up a traveling teacher (Kerwin) on his way to Atlanta. The pair get sidetracked, along with four other Yankee tourists, into the tiny town of Pleasant Valley, Arkansas. They're guests of honor at the town centennial, a three day celebration of barbecue, bluegrass, and gory deaths at the hands of the titular townsfolk.

Color Me Blood Red
Struggling artist Adam Sorg's (Gordon Oas-Heim, Bad) work is verbally decimated by his peers and loved one's alike. In a freak accident, Sorg discovers the shade of color his work has been missing all along—blood red. Rather than sap up his own supply of plasma, Sorg turns to the people around him for some very violent inspiration.

The Blood Trilogy is about as grindhouse as one can get on Blu-ray. Each film is chock full of utterly nauseating set pieces of stage blood and animal parts. Deaths are inventive and often morbidly funny (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not), anticipating the rise of slasher films over two decades before the cycle began.

The only element as prominent as gore is sex, which, while not always explicit, dominates the atmosphere of each movie. Lewis, a director with experience in the "nudie cutie" subgenre of the 1950s and '60s, never allows the films to stray into the territory of pornography, but I'll be damned if he doesn't let maintain the threat of it in sleazy, micro budget guerilla style.

The Blood Trilogy is a cinematic trifecta united only by these elements and, of course, the Lewis/Friedman creative stamp. Though each is an exercise in gore, the films are quite different in terms of narrative content.

Blood Feast is the most pure gore film of them all, a freshmen exercise in bloodletting with a low-budget energy all its own. It is also not a good movie. Really, its hardly a movie, but rather a no-budget reminiscence of Dragnet with a half assed investigatory plot stringing together chunk blowing death sequences. The acting is uniformly stiff and stilted, the pacing drags, the scripting is nonexistent, and the cinematography amateurish at best. It is made watchable only by its genuine energy, ineptness and awesomely achieved gore. Blood Feast is an endurance test to sit through, an uphill push that greatly rewards its audience with its amazing ick factor and film history pedigree.

Two Thousand Maniacs is a substantial improvement over Blood Feast, a total black comedy that invites the audience to be accomplices to the ghoulishly over-the-top murders of unsympathetic tourists. Aside from the film's protagonists, Lewis makes all of the victims bland or vapid, making it hard not to root for the ensemble cast of hayseed killers. If Blood Feast draws parallels to Dragnet, Two Thousand Maniacs plays out like an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies gone horribly wrong. Intentionally campy and often quite amusing, Two Thousand Maniacs ranks among the greatest of Lewis' efforts. The kills, which include a painful barrel roll and a suspenseful boulder crushing, are hilariously Grand Guignol, pre-dating the comedic splat-stick subgenre later perfected by a pre-Middle Earth Peter Jackson and pre-comic adapting Sam Raimi.

As the last film on the set, Color Me Blood Red falls short of the quality of Two Thousand Maniacs and Blood Feast. Color Me Blood Red is the most polished movie on the set. Not only that, but the premise excels as interesting riff on Roger Corman's A Bucket Of Blood formula, veering away from overt black comedy and toward intense character study of murderous artist, Sorg. Gordon Oas-Heim delivers a compellingly prickly performance as the central character, especially in the first half of the film. Lewis stumbles in the second half, diverging the narrative's attention from its psychotic protagonist and onto a cast of teenagers ripped straight from a Gidget-style beach movie. These teenagers are meant to be fodder, but never quite bleed their way onto Sorg's palette. With minimal gore, the film caps off The Blood Trilogy on a whimper, rather than a blood curdling scream.

For their Blu-ray debut, I can only say the 1080p transfers are astonishing improvements over previous releases. Blood Feast looks the best, sporting robust colors (especially bright reds), a very sharp image and fine detail, especially for a film of its age. Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red don't look quite as good, but come very close, compromised only by more dog-eared source material. Given the grind house status of the films, the major flaws (scratches, dirt, frame drop-offs) only add to the shoestring authenticity.

Audio is a more utilitarian affair, offering up LPCM mono tracks lacking bells and whistles, but sounding very clear. There are some instances of popping and distortion, and one case of a strange dialogue drop into baritone during Two Thousand Maniacs, but again, with films of this age and budget, such discrepancies aren't deserving of harsh criticism.

Extras are ported over from the original Something Weird releases of the films. Included are some very talkative commentaries with Lewis and Friedman for each film that offer a wealth of information on the making of the movies. The pair hash things out like old friends and give a lot of perspective and background on how these films were put together, making the tracks a fine resource for aspiring gore-nographers and genre aficionados alike.

Also included is a pair of standard-def short films by Lewis, one an infomercial style piece advertising knives ("Carving Magic!") featuring a cast of Lewis regulars, while the other is a virtually silent gore piece ("Follow That Skirt!") with enough nudity and gore for a single Lewis feature.

Outtakes (over an hour's worth), trailers, and an exploitation art gallery for each film round out the extras.

Despite Color Me Blood Red's lackluster showing in the plasma department, The Blood Trilogy is well worth exploitation fans' time and money, especially on Blu-ray. Long time Lewis fans worrying the transition to hi-def might rob the films of their gritty edge will be pleased to know that the format only heightens the sleazy experience, retaining previous bonus content and making a strong argument for owners of older editions to double dip.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Give us your feedback!

Did we give The Blood Trilogy (Blu-ray) a fair trial? yes / no

Share This Review


Follow DVD Verdict


Other Reviews You Might Enjoy

• Halloween II (Universal Release)
• Return To Horror High
• Primitive
• Bad Seed

DVD Reviews Quick Index

• DVD Releases
• Recent DVD Reviews
• Search for a DVD review...

Genres

• Classic
• Horror

Scales of Justice, Blood Feast

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Blood Feast

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 1963
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Blood Feast

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Outtakes
• Trailers
• Art Gallery

Scales of Justice, Color Me Blood Red

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Color Me Blood Red

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Color Me Blood Red

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Outtakes
• Trailers
• Art Gallery

Scales of Justice, Two Thousand Maniacs

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Two Thousand Maniacs

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Two Thousand Maniacs

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Outtakes
• Trailers
• Art Gallery








DVD | Blu-ray | Upcoming DVD Releases | About | Staff | Jobs | Contact | Subscribe | Find us on Google+ | Privacy Policy

Review content copyright © 2011 Ike Oden; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.