Color Me Blood Red

Color Me Blood Red

Today's glut of shot on video 'splatter epics' don't seem to have advanced too far from the primitive days when Hershell Gordon Lewis decorated his sparsely populated sets with the brightest shade of red for his comic book style of blood. The predominantly useless films made by today's 'Camcorder Coppolas' are nowhere near as fun, either. The gleeful attitude to screen grue on display, combined with some amusing sight gags, moments of charming idiocy and complete absence of pretentiousness allows us to overlook some careless and rushed filmmaking - leaving us free to revel in the blood caked carnage.

Frustrated painter Adam Sorg struggles to find the correct shade of red for his next piece of work - until, that is, his live-in girlfriend cuts her finger and bleeds accidentally on his canvas. After following up with some of his own blood, a depleted and driven Adam, in a fit of rage, stabs his woman in the face and uses her head as a paintbrush! Receiving rare critical acclaim, Adam vows to follow up his bloody and surreal masterpiece with more of the same, in order to prove he's not a one-hit wonder. Soon enough, Adam takes to killing young couples that stray past his secluded beach house.

This third part of Gordon's blood trilogy will never be regarded as great art, but it's head and shoulders above the garbage churned out by Troma studios and half arsed hacks like JR Bookwalter. If those sources of deliberately bad cinema could even get the 'so bad it's good' balance (i.e. kitsch) right, America's first merchant of grindhouse gore most definitely did. Proof that his heart was in the right place is based on the outright lack of excuse making for how shabby the action onscreen is. Whilst today's 'bad films' have to self-consciously admit to us, the audience, in a pathetic nudge and wink manner, HG avoids any attempts at irony and gets on with the action. That he plays it all straight is the key. That's right, COLOR ME BLOOD RED is completely ridiculous, but it's played straight enough to still feel innocently fresh, as well as being an extremely funny film.

Although sluggishly directed and not professionally enough edited together to build up any tension, the film is enjoyably silly, particularly when Adam, after cutting his hand, squeezes his hand dry of blood, making him collapse in a useless bedraggled heap. Of course, excess is an important ingredient, and after exhausting enough of his own blood supply, Adam is not content just to kill his girlfriend, but to rub her leaking head onto the canvas - a cracker of a scene that also puts across the depth of his own obsession. An enjoyably haphazard film experience, BLOOD RED's actors aren't embarrassed to spew banal lines of dialogue like "There's one problem with that kind of painting (Adam using his own blood) - the undertaker has to finish it off" and "I think, I would not like to be this man's psychoanalyst", and when the actors occasionally wander offscreen, outside of the camera's unsteady gaze, it retains a measure of shabby charisma that is infectious enough to make one want to seek out more Lewis films, if not actually watch COLOR ME BLOOD RED a second time. Looking like a cross between Peter Lorre and David Hemmings, Gordon Oas-Heim's Adam is an appealing Z-movie madman, and - proving that director Lewis wasn't a talentless opportunist - is given some great close ups of his sweaty and shifty face that add some intensity to the off-kilter action.

Review by Matthew Sanderson

Released by Odeon Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review