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If I ran the Oscars: cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis

February 4, 2010 |  1:39 pm

In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Next to the podium: legendary horror film director ("Blood Feast," "Two Thousand Maniacs!"), independent movie pioneer and once and future Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Herschell, who's going to win the Oscar race this year?

The hype for "Avatar" seems to assure a win for that film. And Meryl Streep will probably reprise her Golden Globe win.

Now, if you were in charge of the Academy Awards -- which just makes the mind reel to consider -- who would get an Oscar from you?

If I were in charge, I'd give the best picture award to "Up." "Avatar" is a technical triumph, but it doesn't compete against a movie that has audiences alternately laughing and crying. I'm one of apparently few people who feel "Inglourious Basterds" was more representative of a comic book than of sardonic pseudo-history. 

Best actor? If pressed, I'd hand the award to Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart."

Which categories would you add to the ceremony, and which need deleting?

The notion is impossible, but I'd add "most heartwarming" and "best picture budgeted under $10 million." And I'd combine "best original screenplay" and "best adaptation."

Which element of the telecast needs deleting?

I'd drop the insane dancing around that has nothing to do with the awards themselves. I'd warn all nominees that if they win, their acceptance speeches will be cut off after 30 seconds, and if they bring out a sheaf of papers at the podium, they're immediately suspect.

You would run a tight ship at the Oscars, Herschell. What aspect of the telecast would you leave untouched?

Scenes from each nominated movie.

Who's your dream host?

The dream host would be... me. Certainly having hosts who aren't in the trade -- whether an embarrassing David Letterman or a genuinely entertaining Jon Stewart -- is a peculiar notion other than an obvious pandering to the TV audience. I'd retire Billy Crystal.

To whom would you award an honorary Oscar?

Since all movies are group efforts, this category is one for which I can't isolate one individual.

Do you have a favorite Oscar moment (good or bad) from the past?

Yes, the Sally Field joke. Ugh. While on this point, I'd award an "F" grade to Ben Stiller for his obnoxious imitation of Joaquin Phoenix.

HGL-GFTcamera Herschell, if anyone deserves an honorary Oscar, it's you, so let's bestow one to you for a half-century of shocks and laughs. How does your acceptance speech go?

I won't claim, "you like me," because if you really do, you voted for me for the wrong reason. I have just 2,548 names to thank, and this list will be posted in a two-page spread in tomorrow's New York Times. (I didn't want to wait until the last moment to place that ad... I mean, that acceptance notice.) And I thank you for not having a strangely-dressed rock musician of indeterminate gender sing the title song.

-- Paul Gaita

Photos: Top: Herschell Gordon Lewis. Bottom: Herschell Gordon Lewis on the set of his latest film, "The Uh-Oh Show"; as Herschell himself says, "Distribution deals are welcome." 

Special thanks to Mike Vraney and Lisa Petrucci at Something Weird Video.

More from The Circuit:

List of the 82nd annual Academy Award nominations

If I ran the Oscars: Andy Kindler

If I ran the Oscars: Ann Magnuson