Review Index



The third and final entry in writer-director Herschell Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman’s fabled gore trilogy, which commenced with BLOOD FEAST and TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!. COLOR ME BLOOD RED is the least of the three films.

The Package
     1965’s COLOR ME BLOOD RED is Lewis’ admitted least favorite among his own films, due, he claims, to the crudity of the special effects and the bad acting. This is also the film that ended the Friedman/Lewis partnership, which broke up during the editing of COLOR ME BLOOD RED. This apparently led to a loss of interest on the part of Lewis, which is fully evident in the completed film.

The Story
     Adam Sorg is a frustrated painter, and all-around pretentious asshole, having trouble finding the right shade of red. He has an attractive assistant/lover named Chi-Chi, and an exhibition at the prestigious Farnsworth gallery, yet is a complete failure. His fortunes aren’t helped by the fact that he insults a prominent art critic at the exhibition.
     The following day Chi-Chi cuts her finger on a nail and smears blood on an unpainted canvas. Seeing it, Adam is impressed: it seems he’s finally found the correct shade of red. He gets Chi-Chi to further stain the canvas with her blood and, when she decides she’s had enough, pricks his own fingers to produce the desired pigment. When this grows cumbersome Adam kills Chi-Chi by stabbing her through an eye, using the blood from her corpse to finish the painting.
     After burying Chi-Chi on the beach near his house Adam displays the finished painting in the Farnsworth gallery--but refuses to sell it.
     A bit later April, the teenaged daughter of one of Adam’s admirers, cavorts outside Adam’s house with some friends. Adam decides the kids will make excellent fodder for his canvas, and so kills a couple of them. This results in another painting that dazzles Farnsworth’s patrons, but Adam again refuses to sell it.
     The following day April runs into Adam outside his house. He asks her to model for him but she initially demurs--only to quickly change her mind. The resulting modeling session involves April being tied up, allegedly to rest her arms. Adam, of course, is aiming to use her blood in his newest painting, but then April’s boyfriend Rolf breaks into the house, and muddies Adam’s plans considerably…

The Direction
     It’s evident that this film is in trouble during its opening scene of a guy slooooowly burning a canvas, which takes a full four minutes. I can’t imagine drive-in audiences sitting still for this, much less the rest of the movie, which is filled with dead spots--i.e. Adam slooooowly carrying a painting through an art gallery to a display stage (Lewis may have been trying to build suspense but it doesn’t happen) and a seriously dull montage of his intended teen victims driving and frolicking on the beach.
     The gore effects, which include a knife in the eye, a close-up of some mighty fake-looking intestines and a climactic shotgun blast to the head, are sub-par even by traditional 1960s exploitation movie standards. The “blood” that so excites Adam never looks like actual blood, and nor do his “incredible, strangely beautiful” paintings ever seem as impressive as they’re made out to be.
     There are some enjoyable elements, such as Lewis’ trademarked close-ups of the hero/villain’s fevered eyes as he gears up for a kill, and the memorably overwrought jazz score. Overall, however, COLOR ME BLOOD RED lacks the campy outrageousness of BLOOD FEAST and the high-spirited wildness of TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!, being an uninspired and largely mediocre product.

Vital Statistics

Box Office Spectaculars

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Producer: David Friedman
Screenplay: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Cinematography: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Editing: Robert Sinise
Cast: Don Joseph, Candi Conder, Elyn Warner, Patricia Lee, Jerome Eden, Scott H. Hall, Jim Jaekel, Iris Marshall, William Harris, Cathy Collins