How to Make a Doll (1968)



It’s mind boggling as to what exactly constituted “watchable” enough that a movie theater would spend the money to get it.  But what do I know?  Apparently Herschell Gordon Lewis never lost a dime on any movie he made.  That makes the situation even more dire because that means people paid and were forced to sit and watch How to Make a Doll.  How the HELL on God’s green Earth was it possible for this tedious, unfunny and annoying movie to be shown in a theater?  For that matter how was it possible for Lewis to watch the finished product without any sense of guilt over ripping off the public?

This movie isn’t even worth talking about.  It was a bonus feature on the Doctor Gore DVD from Something Weird.  That means the folks at Something Weird didn’t even feel comfortable mentioning it on the cover of their DVD as part of a double feature like they usually do.

So what’s all the fuss?  H.G. “I only make exploitation films with no thought to any quality at all” Lewis made a comedy.  A fucking comedy!  As evidenced by the negative tone this review is taking, it should be painfully obvious that H.G. Lewis CAN’T DIRECT A FUCKING COMEDY!!!

So what constitutes “comedy” in the world of H.G. Lewis?  A bumbling, 32 year old college professor, who lives with his exceptionally (deliberately?) creepy mother and doesn’t notice the sexy ladies around him, goes to a make-shift, low budget looking laboratory and, with the help of a mad doctor/sleazy old man, creates women to have sex with. HIIIIILARIOUS!!!

No actually, there IS potential with this topic.  After all John Hughes made Weird Science (not that I’m a John Hughes fan, mind you) so there is potential for humor to come out of the situation.  But alas, that is not the case with this film.  There are definitely attempts at humor, primarily the professor bumbling and stumbling; he gets his tie caught in a door and has to cut a piece off in one scene and he doesn’t notice all of his students getting it on in class in another.  Oh and he drives a funny car.

The laboratory looks neat and retro futuristic, with all those outdated computers and other gadgetry, and the machine which creates the women looks like a Star Trek transporter, but daaamn is that laboratory annoying!  While the dialogue is barely audible, the laboratory sure makes a lot of the sounds!  Just a bunch of buzzing and whirring.  Also the doctor goes into the sex making machine to make more sex with the women he creates.  God this movie sucks.

Honestly, after 2/3 of this pile of tedium, the novelty wears off and you just want it to end.  And, to be perfectly honest, the fact that I couldn’t hear a lot of dialogue combined with the numbing tedium made it difficult for me to really get what was going on by the third act.  I guess he got sick of the crazy life he created for himself and wanted to settle down with a real woman he loves?  If that IS the case, then it means technically the climax occurs at least 15 minutes before the movie actually ends.  I don’t know, it’s all such a blur at this point.

The poster is also completely misleading; “Will sexy girls overrun the country?”  Who knows?  Maybe?  Either way this question is never even broached in How to Make a Doll or, rather, if it was, I couldn’t hear it because of all the annoying sounds being made in that laboratory!

The Body Shop (1973)



All righty!  This is what I’m talking about!  Here we have a creepy, sick, disturbing and underrated splatter classic from writer/director J.G. Patterson Jr., who worked with and drew inspiration from H.G. Lewis but managed to make a movie that is actually kind of good!  The Body Shop – also known as Doctor Gore (a better title IMO) – serves as a prototype for Re-Animator with its theme of a doctor that tries to bring his dead wife back to life.

Now I don’t know if Stuart Gordon was inspired by The Body Shop but the main, glaringly obvious thematic difference between the two movies is that Dr. Brandon (played by Patterson) had no altruistic goal in mind.  In fact, when I said he wanted to resurrect his wife, I meant to say he wanted to create a really hot woman from the parts of other women and bang her a whole lot.  I’m not kidding!  How else could a creepazoid like that get a woman?  Well he did inherit his dead, rich actress wife’s will but I digress.

According to the poster above, The Body Shop was filmed entirely in North Carolina but why does the doctor’s house look like a castle you’d find on the European country side?  Was his house that big?  Pretty crazy.  Within the house is where the doctor does his experiments assisted by a typical, cliche laboratory hunchback who just wants the doctor to fix his body.  The doctor of course has other goals in mind; that is to assemble the parts of female corpses to create the ultimate super woman.

The story gets a little strange at this point though.  You see the doctor apparently has the capability to seduce and/or hypnotize women into going back to his lab, where he proceeds to cut off a leg, arm or whatever is necessary.  But, if he’s such a charmer, why does he NEED to assemble a woman in the first place?  He picks up one victim from a local bar where undiscovered country heroes Bill Hicks and the Rainbows are performing.

I suppose his seducing women just to use them to build his “super woman” adds to his being a completely loathsome character with no redeeming qualities.  And, to be sure, the scenes are hella gorey!  It’s obvious how the effects were created; whether it be a carefully hidden limb or a “severed” head sticking out from somewhere but the fact is the effects look real and gross.  The doctor cuts off limbs, cuts open torsos, cuts out eyes and does a whole bunch of unsavory things with his creepy set of surgical tools.

Eventually he builds a woman and she definitely is quite hot.  He attempts to teach her stuff the way a parent would teach a little kid.  But, as these things typically do, the plot goes awry and, well, I’m not going to spoil it for you.  The Body Shop has its obvious flaws with the least of them being its miniscule budget.  There are moments that don’t make that much sense and an ending that’s a tiny bit confusing but as a whole, it’s worth the 80 minutes you’ll spend watching it.

Color Me Blood Red (1965)



I don’t want to ruffle any feathers and cause any brain aneurisms at the thought that your entire world might be turned around by this ground breaking statement but Herschell Gordon Lewis is a lousy director.  Don’t get me wrong; I love his stuff and I’ve seen all his movies but they’re not any good.  Gordon has more or less said that he’s not aiming for any artistic merit but just to entertain.  And that’s the problem!  Unless he’s filling the screen with gore, violence, perversion or just nogoodniks doing nogoodniky things, he really sucks!

Case in point: Color Me Blood Red.  I saw this one a while ago and remembered it being way more entertaining but, upon second viewing, I was surprised by how boring this movie is.  80 minutes that seem interminable.  And I don’t want to turn potential viewers away from the films of H.G. Lewis by such a negative assessment so I’ll at least attempt to explain what Color Me Blood Red is all about and why I think it failed at doing what it was supposed to do.

After leaving the world of nudie cuties (which he’d later return to), Lewis with producer David F. Friedman set for the uncharted territory of wanton gore and splatter.  As evidenced by Blood Feast which caused a traffic jam upon its inaugural showing at a drive-in, it worked and Lewis/Friedman had a new gimmick to exploit.  And yes, Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, The Gruesome Twosome, The Wizard of Gore and The Gore Gore Girls are all very gross, bloody and gory; just as bad – possibly worse – than a lot of popular R rated slasher films.

The problem is that stuff has to happen between the gore sequences.  Lewis not only is lousy at his direction, which consists of home video quality photography that often sits on nothing in particular but also can’t build up suspense worth a damn.  I won’t bash the horrendous sound since he probably could only afford one boom mic.  This leaves only two things to enjoy; the hokey acting and the gore.  The gore movies especially are unique since, instead of horny teenagers who bang within 10 minutes of the opening credits, you get to see an immense level of gore juxtaposed with 1950s-early 60s “golly, gee whiz!” dialogue and action.  Color Me Blood Red just has way too much of the latter.

Color Me Blood Red is sort of an update of Roger Cormon’s artistically superior A Bucket of Blood.  In that film an artist killed people and covered them in clay, producing works of “art” for pretentious, know-it-all critics.  In Color Me Blood Red, the artist Adam (Don Joseph) uses human blood to give his canvas extra color.  Guess how he gets it.  Aside from the hilariously sickening scene of him passing out from using too much of his own blood, he begins to kill people and use theirs.

Unsurprisingly the local critics really love his work; violent, sick and daring!  Soon the body count picks up until a group of local kids gets wind to what he’s doing when they discover a rotting corpse on his beach side property.  Seems like a hoot, right?  It would be if there was more killing!  He stabs his annoying fiance, runs through someone with a harpoon on a motorboat and uses a woman’s lower intestine to color his canvas but there are just too many scenes of beach party bingo nonsense and goofy kids literally doing nothing.  They splash each other, crack corny jokes and frolic about but remain remarkably un-killed!  BOOORRRRIIIING!!!  And these are the annoying kids that I wanted to see get killed!  And he doesn’t kill a single one of them!  Arrrrghghgh!!!