Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania is a horror anthology consisting of four distinct tales of terror, each introduced by “The Godfather of Gore” himself – Herschell Gordon Lewis. To quote Mr. Lewis, “It (BloodMania) is a perfect combination of satirical comedy and horror”. BloodMania was filmed entirely in Calgary, Canada.
Roger LeBlanc – “Hell on Wheels”, “Fargo”.
Jewelle Colwell – Creator and Star of television’s “Bluff”.
Julian Black Antelope – “Penny Dreadful”, “Hell on Wheels”, “Blackstone”.
Donovan Cerminara – “Fringe”, “SGU Stargate Universe”.
Mr. Lewis himself directs two segments, while the other two are directed by emerging local talents Kevin Littlelight and Melanie Reinboldt.
For Special FX Make-Up, we naturally chose Dave Trainor whose effects have been seen in “Blade 2”, “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil”, and AMC’s “Hell on Wheels”. Dave was recently nominated for the Los Angeles Guild of Make-up’s Prosthetics Award for his ongoing work on FX Network’s “Fargo”.
Mr. Lewis and Mr. Saito have been appearing on numerous international podcasts to promote the film, and the first press release in regards to the film was translated into 8 different languages within its first 24 hours. Such is this motion picture’s appeal to Herschell’s many fans worldwide.
How did you come up with the concept?
Initially, we were going to produce a feature that Herschell had written some time ago, circumstances though had other plans. One evening a couple of months later I watched a short horror film that really wasn’t very good. I remember thinking, “A guy’s got to be able to do better than that”. That proved to be my eureka moment, and the idea for the anthology began to take shape. Herschell liked the idea, so we began.
We went through a lot of scripts, and potential actors over the following months until we were satisfied. They say a film will take up two years of your life, and this one has taken almost exactly that from pre through post production. It’s a long time to carry a baby but soon we can show it to the world. Test audiences loved it, it is encouraging.
How long did it take to film?
We scheduled six days for each of the four segments, in the end though we filmed for a total of twenty-six days.
How did you decide on the location?
There was never a doubt that it would be shot in Calgary, in fact, all future Diabolique/HGB productions will be shot here. Alberta has great incentives for filmmakers, and we have great film crews here. This is why series like “Hell on Wheels” and “Fargo”, and films like “Interstellar” and “The Revenant” film here. We just opened a major movie studio here a couple of weeks ago, so more productions will invariably gravitate here. HBO is currently shooting the series “Tin Star” here.
What was the highlight of making the film?
Getting the opportunity to work with Herschell was an amazing experience for me as I have been a fan of his films since I was a boy. I recall standing on set on the first day of shooting just watching Herschell give direction to the actors. “My God”, I thought, “that’s Herschell Gordon Lewis”.
What was the most difficult moment of shooting the film?
The gore effects in the film are 95% practical. It is very nerve racking when you know you have one take to get it right because rebuilding a prosthetic or regaining access to a location can be expensive and time-consuming.
The film Gods were with us though and we got what we needed the first time out every time. The most difficult was having an articulated body cast which I helped fill with Ziploc bags full of stage blood, actual animal organs and a long length of intestine. We then had to drop it ten stories and guess where it was going to land.
We had three cameras set up, each focused on where we thought it would land, and a fourth to track the fall. All we could do was take into consideration wind factors, fall speed, and then take our best guess. Fortunately, the dummy impacted within two feet of where we expected.
In fact it worked so well that if you watch the footage from each camera you can clearly hear the camera operator on each say either, “Oh fuck” or “holy shit”, so realistic was the gag.
Any specific movies or stories that influenced the script?
Not a specific movie as such, I was though heavily influenced by the anthology films from Amicus Studios from the seventies. Films such as “Tales from the Crypt”, “The Vault of Horror”, and “Asylum” were the ones I loved growing up.
What makes this film stand out among others?
Hmmm…It isn’t dour. So many studio and indie films are either straight out gore or largely humorless. Herschell and I knew from the start that the proper mix of gore, humor, and scary elements was essential.
Above all, we wanted to make an entertaining film, as Herschell puts it, “We want you to tell your friends that they have to see his movie”. That formula was employed recently by “Ash vs. Evil Dead” to great response, so we feel we were on the right track.
Looking back, is there anything you would change about the film:
Certainly, there are times one wishes that one had gotten better coverage of a scene as it makes things easier on your editor. But you can’t play should of, could of, would have because there are always little things that can be tweaked. The further you progress in post any change becomes more time consuming, so there comes a
point where you just have to say enough. We are done.
Any other horror projects currently in the works?
Yes, but nothing I can discuss in any detail at this time. I have maintained for the last five years that the future of horror is in television or whatever model invariably replaces it. That is where my focus lies, but someday I would like to remake “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”, or “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte”. One really can’t plan in this business, sometimes you get a phone call out of the blue that entirely changes the direction that you thought you were heading in.
My intention for this film was to reintroduce Mr. Lewis to a modern audience. I wanted to bring Herschell from the sixties to today. So we aimed to make a film that contained Mr. Lewis’ humor, satire, and his signature gore, but with realistic 21 st century effects and talented actors.
There are nods to Herschell’s earlier films throughout the segments, a lot of Easter eggs for fans, and we thematically with the opening credits give a nod to the past. By the time the final end credit rolls the audience has been taken on a journey from past to present in, what I hope, is an enjoyable way. When all is said and done, I am a lifelong horror film fan who set out to make a film for horror film fans, whether I accomplished this will be for audiences to decide.
For James Saito making “BloodMania” was the fulfillment of a childhood dream:
“I have been a fan of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ work for forty years. I was thirteen
when my Uncle took me to a Horror triple feature at the local drive-in. On the bill that night was “Frogs”, and “The Wizard of Gore”. As I recall I thought “Frogs” was pretty stupid even to a kid my age, but as “The Wizard of Gore” played, it was a revelation to me”,
I had never seen violence and gore so graphically depicted, so visceral. I followed Herschell’s career over the years, and always wondered what it would be like to watch him make a film”.
Saito brings over thirty years of marketing experience to Diabolique Films. With experience in television production, he has most recently worked in Celebrity Management and Representation with his Company HGB Entertainment Ltd. James can sometimes be found giving talks on classic horror at Horror Conventions, and continues as Head Writer for the popular, “James Saito’s Zombie Movie Rating Guide.”