Wizard of Gore
Herschell Gordon Lewis was one of the great pioneers of splatter movies with such films as Color Me Blood Red, Blood Feast and Wizard of Gore. The latter was recently referenced in Jason Reitman's indie hit Juno and has been remade by Jeremy Kasten from a script by Zach Chassler. Unfortunately, Revolver Entertainment only provided a DVD-R for review, with forced warnings lasting a minute in every 10, no extras, subtitles or anything else that would allow me to review the disc, as such I can only review the film.
Edmund Bigelow (Kip Pardew) is a journalist who sees a poster for the stage show The Wizard of Gore and goes with his girlfriend Maggie (Bijou Phillips). The show begins with a barely recognisable Jeffrey Combs, playing The Freak, eating a mouthful of live maggots and biting a rat's head off. One of the women in the audience begins to leave but a spotlight picks her out and a voice demands the 'slut' to tell him where she is going. She reluctantly sits down and onto the stage steps Montag the Magnificent (Crispin Glover). With his unusual stage patter he invites her onstage, hypnotises her, asks her to strip and then disembowels her to the stunned shock of the audience, some of which head for the door only to stop in their tracks when Montag now free of blood stains and standing next to the very much alive participant takes the applause. Bigelow senses a story and returns for the next show where Montag repeats his trick with a different woman, 'killing' her in a different way.
Bigelow senses that something is amiss when the bodies of the two women turn up, killed in the same way as on stage but he has been having dreams of killing them in a sex/murder frenzy. He continues to attend Montag's shows and dream about killing the volunteers from the audience, gradually losing his grip on reality and sinking into a state of utter confusion. It is at this point that the film does exactly the same with the blend of 1940s noir and hallucinatory imagery turning into a bit of a mess.
Wizard of Gore needs a satisfactory denouement to tie everything together but one never appears. Crispin Glover, best known as George McFly from the Back to the Future films, is excellent as Montag with superb stage presence, often breaking the fourth wall and addressing the camera. The death scenes are suitably bloody, but oddly seem tamer than those in Lewis' film from nearly 40 years ago and The Suicide Girls, playing the victims, provide the nudity.
This remake is an interesting attempt at a horror film, but ends up more in David Lynch territory with an ending that leaves you feeling unfulfilled. I much preferred H. G. Lewis' 1970 original.