Tuesday, October 4, 2011

#424. Color Me Blood Red (1965)

Directed By: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Starring: Gordon Oas-Heim, Candi Conder, Elyn Warner

Tag line: "A Blood-Splattered Study in the Macabre"

Trivia:  Director Herschell Gordon Lewis cited Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood (1959) as the main inspiration for Color Me Blood Red

Color Me Blood Red is the final entry in director Herschell Gordon Lewis' Blood Trilogy (after Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs!), and like many of the director's more popular films, this one weaves the tale of a psychotic killer driven by his obsession to spill blood. What makes Color Me Blood Red different from the others is that, this time out, we're witnesses to the lead character's descent into madness. 

Adam Sorg (played by Gordon Oas-Heim under the pseudonym Don Joseph) is a mildly successful artist who teeters on the edge of greatness, yet lacks that “certain something” to make his paintings truly unique. While on a retreat at his beach side home, Sorg encounters the inspiration he so badly needs when his girlfriend, Gigi (Elyn Warner), accidentally cuts her finger on a broken picture frame. 

Hypnotized by the sight of blood on canvas, Sorg sets out to paint his masterpiece, but requires an unlimited supply of hemoglobin to do so. Spurred by his desire to create, he now has to obtain the necessary blood, even if it means finding prospective “doners” who aren't exactly willing to help. 

At the outset of Color Me Blood Red, Adam Sorg is many things: an arrogant hot-head who doesn't take criticism very well; a flamboyant artist who enjoys degrading his live-in girlfriend; and a man who generally loathes others, especially if he must rely on them for his very survival (he is constantly rude to Farnsworth, the art dealer who regularly displays his work). 

One thing Sorg is not, however, is a killer. That comes later, after he's mesmerized by a crimson trail of streaked blood, a color he is unable to duplicate artificially. For a time, the temperamental artist tries relying on his own blood for his art (a scene in which he continuously cuts his own fingers is tough to watch) before turning his attention elsewhere. 

When he finally does cross that line into murder, it weighs heavy on him. His first “blood” painting is hailed a masterpiece by art critic Gregorovich (William Harris), and Mrs. Carter (Iris Marshall), a rich patron of Farnsworth's studio, is willing to pay as much as $15,000 for it. But Sorg refuses to sell. The memory of what he'd done to create it is far too much for him, and to profit from his actions is unthinkable. 

Color Me Blood Red may not feature as much gore as some of Lewis' other films, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Along with a knife to the head and another death by harpoon, Color Me Blood Red gives us a particularly gruesome image, arguably one of the most gruesome in Lewis' filmography: a murdered young girl tied to a wall, her intestines hanging out, with Sorg milking blood from the entrails to finish his painting. 

It's a dose of grisly brilliance, one that does its part in making Color Me Blood Red the perfect film to round out a memorable trilogy.

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