Color Me Blood Red (1964)
By: Michael Helms on May 10, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English 2.0. 79 minutes
The Movie
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Starring: Don Joseph, Candi Conder, Elyn Warner, Patricia Lee, Jerome Eden
Screenplay: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Tagline:A Blood-Spattered Study In The Macabre
Country: USA
A sign says Farnsworth Galleries as a man with a framed piece of canvas exits a building, places the artwork on the ground, pours fluid over it and sets it on fire. As it burns the film's greatest special effect comes into play as the painting also begins to bleed. Freeze frame and bring on the opening titles. Without further ado we're introduced to Adam Sorg, deeply troubled artiste who has a serious problem with creating color on the canvases that he throws around his lounge room come studio. His gal Gigi walks in on Sorg's tantrum only to cop a wet brush in the face aimed accidentally on purpose by the tempremental artist. Sorg has a meeting lined up with the owner of the aforementioned gallery and doesn't want to go but Gigi convinces him that it's for the best. Sorg double parks and storms into the opening and gets disruptive as we take in some of his weird work that mixes up Jackson Pollock with Basil Gogos (Famus Monsters Of Filmland artist). Time out for a paddle boat interlude until Farnsworth comes to pick up some of Sorg's work. The ever belligerent Sorg is then shown smiling as he walks around with a gun. Gigi cuts her hand on a nail and accidnetally drips blood on a canvas which Sorg happens to love. Sorg then re-cuts her finger with a razor blood and begins to paint. After another paddle boat interlude Gigi attempts to clean up but only infuriates Sorg when she gets critical of his work. Sorg responds by stabbing her in the head and immediately puts her blood to work. A young girl is painting her toenails blood red and engaging in hipster dialogue with her friends. Her mother is one of the gallery patrons. Meanwhile Sorg buries Gigi in a ridiculously shallow grave. The finished art work of a girl with a knife in the head becomes Sorg's best-selling work only he doesn't want to sell. The local art critic comments from beneath his beret, "I wouldn't want to be that man's psychoanalyst". A couple soon appear on the lonely beach outside of Sorg's house and after Sorg butts out a cigarette on his hand you know things are going to get ugly. The couple borrow a pair of paddle boats only to have Sorg come after them in a runabout. The artist harpoons the male and takes the gal home to use as art material. More splashing in the shallows follow as the art fan's daughter and her friends stop out front of Sorg's house. Sorg convinces the daughter to pose for him but it all comes undone for the artist when Gigi's body is unearthed which leads to Sorg getting shot in the face.
Drenched in Crimson Color says the ad line but the particular brand of Florida sunshine on display here doesn't seem to burn as brightly as it did on the two previous Lewis Blood films. In fact, this is the dullest looking film of the trio and no amount of remastering can alter the situation. There's also a tiny amount of print damage present but otherwise this is a smooth transfer of a rather flat film which, since it encapsulates it's theme in it's title (ie. the extent to which an artist will go to capture the right sort of color) is a slight letdown. The wild, weird and just plain bad original artwork featured doesn't exactly leap off the screen but fortunately the soundtrack does...
Dolby Stereo. As opposed to the usual self-manufactured Lewis score the library music used here has probably done time on 60s TV crime shows or working for Doris Wishman (think Another Day, Another Man). It swings hard and loud and for the most part provides the perfect accompaniment to the action. The commentary talks about the problems Dave Friedman had in keeping the ocean off the soundtrack but every line of groovy dialogue comes across loud and clear so you can really dig this piece of crazy driftwood.
Extra Features
Director/Producer commentary where Lewis shows his wit and Friedman shows his age and also includes uncredited distributor Jimmy Maslin and Something Weird Video honcho Mike Vraney who actually moderates. While a few insights about the film are revealed, like the fact that the entire cast and crew (besides Lewis and Friedman) bunked down in the mad artists house by the beach, the real interest is generated in the discussions about the dissolution of the Lewis/Friedman partnership and other films by Lewis. There's also a trailer for Color Me Blood Red where the narrator exhorts the viewer to, "Keep repeating, it's only a movie...". There's 10 minutes of outtakes that are billed as rare but are really unnecassary. Best of all is a gallery of grtaphics that takes in 68 samples of Lewis Ad art and stills from Color Me Blood Red and several other Lewis productions.
The Verdict
Color Me Blood Red is the mildest of the blood trilogy in terms of body count, gore and horror, but it might be the funniest as it goes about satirising the pretensions of the artworld and recording teen culture at it's ginchiest. Some of the dialogue is priceless such as when Gigi's body is discovered, causing one youth in highrise bathers to exclaim, "Holy bananas it's a girl's leg!" It would be hard to believe that Lewis wasn't under the influence of the Corman classic A Bucket of Blood (recently released by MRA) when writing Color Me Blood Red . Unfortunately the gore effects are poor even by Lewis standards. Don Joseph as Adam Sorg, however, puts in one of the most demented performances of a maniac ever committed to celluloid. Forget modern match-ups of horror icons what the world really needs is Fuad Ramses v. Adam Sorg. Still, Color Me Blood Red is neccassary viewing because unlike many recently hyped releases, it was originally banned in Australia, and this is it's actual first release.
Movie Score
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