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.
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.
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
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…
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.
COLOR ME BLOOD RED
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