Horror Gore Comedy
Trivia The Wizard of Gore was filmed in 1968, but not released until 1970.
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The Wizard of Gore (1970)
31st Mar 05
A magician uses young girls in his act and seemingly murders them on stage before they all emerge unscathed, only to die later the same evening with the same 'wounds' as were inflicted during the show.
H G Lewis does it again. Sometimes its fun trying to work out which is worse - the acting, the script or the production values. It all sucks. But you know what? It's entertaining amongst friends. At least, I'm sure it would be, but unfortunately I had to sit through this drivel on my lonesome. Five minutes of the running time elapsed before I reached for the vodka.
The plot is pretty cool. Montag the Magnificent is (you guessed it!) a stage magician. He laces his otherwise routine magic act with a special trick every night. That's where the 'gore' part of his wizardry comes in. He selects a female member of the audience then murders her horribly onstage (knife-swallowing, chainsawing in half, etc...), after which they seem to be unscathed, blood-free and return to their seats. In each and every case the women die later the same evening and are found to have died from the exact same wounds that Motag inflicted in his gruesome stage show.
Shelley, a TV talk show host is rather taken with his performance and asks him to appear on her show. He initially refuses but eventually accepts on the condition that she continues to attend his shows, much to the annoyance of her boyfriend Jack. What follows is an inept 'high-slacks' police investigation, Jack and Shelley's involvement in the investigation, and gratuitous gore aplenty courtesy of old Montag.
When watching H G Lewis movies I always find myself quoting a line from John Carpenter's classic The Thing - when Palmer sees the spider-thing scuttling along the floor he says "You've got to be fucking kidding" (it's also important to mimic Palmer's accent here). Well, that's the kind of response Lewis' movies provoke. It really is hard to believe that he got
away with this shit, for a number of reasons. The gore is outrageously shocking and revolting even by today's standards, even if the technical effect execution is primitively laughable in its shoddiness.
In between pinching myself in case this was just a horrible nightmare and downing Absolut Vodka faster than recommended in an effort to ease the pain, I was trying to decide whom I should nominate for the Ed Wood Award for deplorable acting. In the end, Montag (Ray Sager) won. He oozes some kind of sick charisma whilst onstage, maniacally grimacing with his crazy-ass eyes as he butchers his way through his unfortunate volunteers. But offstage is where he really starts to excel in the worst possible kind of way. Sporting similar 'stock H G Lewis Villain' ridiculously large eyebrows and chalky hair as Tuad Ramses in Blood Feast, this guy is so bad that while he's trying to make his lines sound in any way significant or important you'll begin to question the very fabric of your existence.
In Blood Feast, Tuad Ramses revelled in doing his best Bela Lugosi impression while the Wizard Montag goes down the Vincent Price route, trying his utmost to convince his audience of his omniscient authority. Whilst onstage he leaves extraordinarily long pauses between his (slowly spoken) lines: "I am Montag...Master of Illusion... (10 second gap)... What goes up... must come down... (10 second gap)... perhaps... but not always... (10 second gap)... Have you ever seen the sight of human butchery... in person?" "No, I have not. Now shut the fuck up and get on with it". Well, ok I made that last line up but it felt good...
This unfortunate script delivery must add approximately 10 minutes onto the total running time of The Wizard of Gore and makes for what is already a challenging viewing experience more of an extremely tedious one. What makes it worse is that the end result is the polar opposite of the Lewis's intention - instead of creating a sense of nail biting tension the end result is closer to head-scratching boredom. Sorry Herschell.
While watching The Wizard of Gore I wrote in my pad "can't wait till this is over so that I can watch a proper film". If I were prone to scratching my head in befuddlement it would have been red raw with H G Lewis-style gore at trying to work out what the man is trying to tell us and why. Actually, it's really very simple - Gore. Gore for gore's sake and that's about it. His blood movies are a simple exercise in visceral excess and in that respect he succeeds. He has his characters simply play with human organs / intestines / eyes in sockets close-up needlessly and for longer than is necessary, if indeed it was necessary at all, which it isn't. Like close-up shagging action in hard-core dirty movies it's what people pay the money for. Unfortunately for Lewis's 1970 audiences the 'shagging' wasn't non-stop - it was over-punctuated with talky talky scenes which they had to sit through in order to get to the filth. Poor punters. All the stuff in between probably didn't seem as funny back then.
See this only with friends and alcohol. The same applies to Herschell's entire catalogue, if the three films I've seen are anything to go by.
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