Monday, September 29, 2008

Horror Movie Review: The Wizard of Gore (1970)

The Wizard of Gore (1970)

Starring: Ray Sager, Judy Cler, and Wayne Ratay

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Writer: Allen Kahn

Production Company: Mayflower Pictures

Release Date: October 23, 1970
Ray Sager as Montag the Magnificent.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a gore fan. Of all the elements of horror, gore is the least important. Now, when I think gore, I don't think a splatter of blood. That's necessary in many horror films. That splatter of blood somehow propelling itself onto a wall after a victim has been sliced with a meat cleaver doesn't bother me. It's innards, organs, and eyes, oh my, that shuts me off. I'm not really grossed out by it...well, ok, eye gore can get me hacking...It's that the gore involved is usually unrealistic and I just roll my eyes. So when the top draw of a film is gore, I usually pass it by...unless something about the film intrigues me. So when I learned about The Wizard of Gore, I became intrigued.

I heard of the film after learning that three of my favorite horror film actors appear together in the 2007 remake. A movie that brings together Crispin Glover, Jeffrey Combs, AND Brad Dourif is a film that I have to see. And I hate watching a remake without seeing the original. But even moreso, the plot intrigued me.

A stage magician, Montag the Magnificent, gets women volunteers from his audience to come up on stage where he butchers them using a different implements, such as a chainsaw, a punch press, a spike, and swords, each night. But after his gory display, the women get up unscathed and return to the audience. However, a short while later, Montag's victim dies with the same injuries sustained during the show.

Judy Cler as feminist TV personality Sherry.Couple Sherry and Jack begin to suspect a connection and help the police in figuring out the mystery.

The Wizard of Gore is a 1970s low budget indy film, so there are certain things you have to expect: Paper thin plot, poor acting, and nonsensical elements in the script. Plus bad fashion from the 70s, but in 30 years they'll be saying the same about our fashion, so we can't hold that against them. And being a fan of B-Films, the other "problems" don't bother me either. In a B-Film, I'm looking for fun and creativity and The Wizard of Gore has it.

The concept is so out there and unbelievable that it's already got a dismembered legCorinne Kirkin as one of Montag's not so feminist victim. up on creativity. The ending is the cherry on top as we find out Montag is not the only hypnotist in the film and he finds himself with the table saw turned. The thin plot, though, is just a vehicle to come up with different ways of slaughtering women. In fact, the movie makes a self-aware statement when Montag talks about television and film allowing us to view violence in safety and innocence.

Wayne Ratay as Jack asks, Does feminist mean lesbian? Hot! Ratay's comments and viewpoints do not reflect the view point of Horror Movie Night Orgy.The acting is cheesy, of course, but then a film like this can't be acted realistically, in my opinion. Judy Cler plays Sherry, host of a television show targeting housewives. She's an attractive actress and does a good enough job here on par with most day time soap operas today. Same goes for Wayne Ratay who plays Sherry's beau Jack, a sports columnist who struggles to tolerate Sherry's interest in Montag. Interestingly, their relationship is pretty realistic as a couple who loves each other but gets annoyed with each other from time to time.

Montag is played by Ray Sager and he really hams it up, but it totally fits his roleMontag can't figure out why he can't keep a girlfriend. Bloody murder surely can't be the problem. as a stage magician. It's fun watching his melodramatic portrayal of the sadistic Wizard of Gore.

But accepting the B-Movie nature doesn't excuse everything, like alternating shots of the victims being bloody, and then not, and then bloody again while on stage as Montag's victims. The nonsequential shots of gore I found to be distracting.

If you like B-Movie splatterfests and haven't seen this, then check it out. If not, then skip it.

Where Else Can I See Them?

Ray Sager Sager's most recent horror film was 1992's Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil. A religious fanatic stalks four teens he feels have transgressed the law of god. He'll appear next in the 2009 Canadian release Smash Cut, about movie director Able Whitman. After his latest film is met with horrible reviews, Whitman sets out to prove the critics wrong by finding inspiration in his cast and crew. Sometimes great art requires great sacrifice- and the director always gets final cut!

Herschell Gordon Lewis Lewis has continued directing splatter movies. His most recent was Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat. A cannibal caterer kills various young women in preperation for a ritual feast for a long-dormant Egyptian goddess that has him under its control. His next film will be the 2009 straight to video release Blood De Madam: The Fallen Ones. 1982 saw one of the most violent and sadistic series of crimes to have ever occurred in the state of North Carolina begin to unfold. A quiet little town slept at night while an entire street fell victim to a mass slaughter that claimed the lives of over 175 men, women and children.

Allen Kahn Kahn's only other writing credit is another Gordon film Year of the Yahoo!. A non-gore drama, a country-western singer is recruited to run for the U.S. Senate, and soon clashes with his unscrupulous campaign manager on the tactics to run his political campaign.

Judy Cler and Wayne Ratay haven't appeared in any other films.

And here's the preview for the 2007 The Wizard of Gore remake.

Montag says Buy Horror Shirts from


kelloggs said...

I always try to appreciate horror movies for what they have to offer, whether it's gore, suspense, terror... I like Hostel just as much as I like The Sixth Sense, but for completely different reasons, and with b-rated flicks it can definitely be alittle more difficult to spot the reason (sometimes like "Where's Waldo,"lol), but it seems like you are able to recognize what this movie has to offer. And it sounds worth watching. Great review.
Just out of curiosity, do you like Tarantino movies?

Bodog said...

I've liked everything of Tarantino's except Kill Bill. I can't remember what my problem with it was...just that I didn't like it.

I thought Death Proof deserved better reviews and From Dusk Till Dawn is just awesome. His other non-horror stuff is great as well.