Color Me Blood Red
color me blood red | herschell gordon lewis | gordon oas-heim | candi conder | elyn warner | art | comedy | sequel | united states | pat finn-lee | jerome eden | scott h. hall | jim jaekel | iris marshall | william harris | cathy collins
Film: Color Me Blood Red
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writer: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Starring: Gordon Oas-Heim, Candi Conder and Elyn Warner
This was a film that I got turned on to from the horror encyclopedia that I’m using to seek out horror films that I’ve not seen or heard of. I do have to say that I was surprised when a podcast I listen to, this one came up as one of their deep dives they do. When I saw that Herschell Gordon Lewis wrote and directed, I was intrigued, because I’ve seen some of his other films as well. The synopsis is a crackpot artist kills various people to use their blood as his new crimson red color for his paintings.
We kick this off with a man bringing out a painting, but we aren’t shown the front of it. He puts it on the ground, covers it in gasoline and then sets it on fire. We then shift to an artist as he is struggling. He is Adam Sorg (Gordon Oas-Heim). He lives with his girlfriend, Gigi (Elyn Warner). Adam is supposed to be at a local art gallery as they’re trying to sell his paintings. His art isn’t where he wants it to be, so he is dragging his feet on going.
The gallery is owned by Farnsworth (Scott H. Hall) and he has a critic there, Gregorovich (William Harris). The critic is quite pretentious, but he is willing to buy what he deems the best of the bunch to write that Adam is marketable, but he is lacking in his use of color. This thoroughly upsets him.
Through his time there and at home, we see he is kind of a jerk. He is out by the water when Gigi tells him that Farnsworth is there. He goes to meet with him and breaks the frame of one of his canvases. He leaves it on the ground and Gigi goes to pick it up, cutting herself. When Adam sees the color, he knows that’s what he’s been missing. He uses Gigi’s blood until she freaks out on him and then uses his own. It makes him weak so he has to come up with more drastic measures. But when Gregorovich and Mrs. Carter (Iris Marshall) love it, he has to go even further to show he can keep producing.
I do have to say that this film does have some interesting aspects from the Godfather of Gore, writer/director Gordon. It was interesting that I saw this film was influenced by A Bucket of Blood, because this film definitely reminded me of it too. This one is in color and it takes full advantage of that.
Adam is an artist that wants to be recognized for his greatness. At first though, we see that he can do enough to make a living, but he will be pretty much forgotten after he has passed away. He isn’t being recognized as a great artist and this really bothers him and causes him to go the lengths that he does to strive to be better. It is admirable, but what he does is horrible. There is also the problem thought that Gregorovich is pretentious and I personally thought the art he did before was better than the ones after. The final product of his first ‘masterpiece’ wasn’t as good as the version we saw earlier.
There is also the aspect of putting all of your hard work into something and for people to not like it. I have personally written a novel that I self-published and when it was available for purchase, I’ve never felt more self-conscious about things. Doing these reviews isn’t really that different either. It has helped me though to develop as a writer so that aspect of the film is interesting to me.
Something I didn’t touch on in the recap is the subplot of Mrs. Carter’s daughter April (Candi Conder), her boyfriend Rolf (Jerome Eden), their friend Sydney (Pat Finn-Lee) and her boyfriend Jack (Jim Jaekel). They are going off to an empty stretch of beach, but the problem is that it’s pretty much Adam’s yard. This felt a bit off, but I thought they were and interesting group of characters. They are the younger generation in the film and much different from the adults.
To shift gears to the pacing of the film, which I thought was a bit off. The film runs for 79 minutes, which is quite short. The film felt a bit longer than that as it kind of drags a bit. Early on in the film when Adam discovers blood is what he needs, I found it to be intriguing, but after that it does hit a lull for me. I do think the ending is a bit odd, but I didn’t mind it. I do think the comedy in the film also throws it off from being better in my opinion.
Acting for the film I thought was cheesy. I will say that Oas-Heim wasn’t bad. He is such a jerk that I really wanted him to get caught. I like that him as a villain is really built up, which was solid. There is a bit of me that felt bad though, as he just wants to be recognized for his work. Conder I thought was fitting for the damsel in distress in the era. She is a bit naïve, which was fine. Warner I thought was decent in her role. I really wonder why she stuck around. She does add a bit of comedy. Finn-Lee and the rest of the women I’ve talked about are all in bikinis at one point or another, I liked that. The guys in the film I thought were fine for what was needed, but the comedy that some try to do again throws the film off for me. I also want to commend Harris for his pretentious role he plays, I hate it, but I thought he played it well. No one really has any character arch though. Oas-Heim just goes from bad to worst as he goes mad. That is something the film is lacking too.
Effects for the film were something that actually was pretty solid. When Gigi and Adam are cutting their fingers, it made me cringe. It is crazy, because the blood doesn’t look as real as I’ve seen in other films, but it is something about what they are doing. I thought the rest of the gore in the film was good. There aren’t a lot of deaths, but the ones we get are solid. The film has almost a grindhouse feel to it, even though it is a right before that era.
Something that really was hit or miss for me was the soundtrack. There was a lot of jazz, which was popular in the era and is fitting for someone who was in the art scene. It fit for some of the scenes, but ones that are supposed to be dramatic or a bit more horrific; it took me out of it. Overall though I’d say the score was more on the positive side.
Now with that said, I really wish this film could have been played more straight. I do like the idea of an artist who is struggling to find his inspiration doing it in a very dark way. I can understand the lengths a person would go for their recognition. The acting was solid and the effects for the most part were good. I thought the pacing was a bit off as was the soundtrack at times. Overall thought I’d say this film is above average. It is from the 1960’s so keep that in mind and the copy I watched was a bit grainy. I personally love that, but f that’s an issue, avoid this one. If not and this sounds good, I’d give it a viewing as it is interesting for sure.
My Rating: 7 out of 10