The Wizard of Gore


The Wizard of Gore is a remake of a 1970 splatter film which was directed by the godfather of gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Lewis had been a pioneer in creating exploitation films of all types for the drive-in and grindhouse markets in the sixties, and experimented with various formats until he hit upon his own peculiar niche: gore. In the early sixties, the movie codes and assorted local statutes covered nudity quite explicitly, and made it difficult to get nudie films into enough venues to turn a healthy profit. Gore was a different matter. Lewis and his partner, fellow exploitation legend Dave Friedman, realized that simulated cinema gore, however shocking it might be, fell nicely into the legal cracks and could be screened just about anywhere, so they moved away from nudie films toward splatter flicks. From 1963 to 1972, first with Friedman then on his own, Lewis created a series of films which were essentially the first splatter flicks to reach a wide audience in North America, and are now considered the seminal classics of this horror sub-genre, including Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, and The Wizard of Gore.

Most of Lewis's films, to be brutally frank, are awful. 2000 Maniacs and The Wizard of Gore, for example, start with solid ideas, but fail in execution because of incomprehensible plotting, undeveloped characters, micro budgets, amateur actors, and so forth. Because they are both unpleasant and generally incompetent, they are virtually unwatchable (and the use of "virtually" is charitable) to the average person, but genre fans love them because they are outré, anti-establishment, and in-your-face, and they were made that way in an era when nobody else was as daring. If Quentin Tarantino is the messiah who mainstreamed B-film violence, Lewis was his John the Baptist.

This film was an excellent candidate for a remake because, as mentioned, The Wizard of Gore has an excellent basic premise. A Grand Guignol magician named Montag specializes in underground performances where he takes unwary members of the audience and subjects them to torture, evisceration, dismemberment, and other grisly procedures to the shock of the other members of the audience, who are then further surprised and horrified by a black-out, followed by a dramatic "ta-da" in which an unbloodied Montag and the unharmed "victim" are seen standing together on the stage. The "hook" of the film is that the faux victims soon become real victims, and they all come to grisly deaths in which they suffer the precise bodily harm previously simulated in the stage show.

The remake is a solid genre film which was assembled by a pretty good team. The cinematographer was Christopher Duddy, who has been James Cameron's visual effects guy on many films, and has previously been the cinematographer on some really solid mainstream projects like Thirteen Days, the Costner film about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The stars of the film are Kip Pardue, a solid young mainstream actor who plays the investigator, and Crispin Glover, the dependable eccentric who is cast perfectly as the mysterious Montag. The cast is filled out nicely by Bijou Phillips and two genre veterans, Brad Dourif and an unrecognizable Jeffrey Combs.

The guilty pleasures of the genre are all present and accounted for. The atmosphere is creepy; the gore effects are top-notch; the score and sound effects are suitably eerie. There is also plenty of nudity along the way. In a nice embellishment to the original, Montag makes each of his faux victims strip on stage, just to demonstrate to the audience that they will do anything he bids them do.

The solution to the mystery in the original film was one of those circuitous "mind-fuck" explanations where little seems to make sense and the line between reality and dreams is a thin one. The remake carries a bit of that same vibe, with a lot of dreams, mental deterioration, and drug-induced hallucinations mixed with the reality, but the director and screenwriter did try to come up with a reasonable explanation which ultimately makes an effort to explain why everything seems so confusing along the way. It is a bit disappointing that the two main suspects in the murders (the magician and the narrator who is obsessed with the case) both turn out to be puppets who are being manipulated by two different minor characters, and I'm not convinced that the various explanations would hold up to even loose scrutiny if the details were to be examined piece-by-piece, but I don't think that really matters. Most of the major details do fit the explanation, and the key fact is that there is some destination eventually, and an atmospheric ride on the way to that destination.

Comes to DVD Tuesday

Nudity report:

  • Unknowns: you will see Bijou Phillips in a sex scene which is part of a jumbled montage of sex scenes. Some of the other women are topless, but I'm pretty sure Bijou keeps her top on.
  • Luna Cantale (the "geisha") and some anonymous strippers.
  • Nixon Suicide. The Suicide Girls play the magician's victims.
  • Cricket Suicide
  • Amina Munster (aka Amina Suicide)
  • Flux Suicide. This is the only one who provides full frontal and rear nudity.



  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.









From a recent "Fun House" clip we have Anna Bielska aka Anna Biella getting it on with one lucky dude. Anna does some near hardcore stuff in this sexy scene with lots of "Tool Time" action.






Notes and collages

The Faculty


Laura Harris

The Mean Season


Mariel Hemingway










Eighteen film clips and 58 caps and collages!

Rosanna Arquette film clips. Caps follow.


Deborah Unger film clips. Collages follow.

Holly Hunter film clips. Caps follow.

Yolande Julian film clips. Caps follow.








This section will present film clips to accompany Charlie's collages (which are found in his own site).

Today's star is Bernadette Lafont in Une Belle Fille comme Moi







Today's stuff: caps of three movies, none of them impressive in the realm of fiction or female form.

Lovers and Liars


This had been titled Viaggio con Anita and starred Goldie Hawn and Giancarlo Giannini. So you're thinking how, with a cast such as that, can you have gone your whole life having never heard of it? And why was it for sale in a dollar store for, well...a dollar? 'Cuz it sucks and blows at the same time. Poor Goldie was wonderful but no amount of dedication and cuteness could elevate this mess above the IMDb Mendoza line (a 5.0) - it is rated an anemic 4.6. Generous by at least a full point, due no doubt to the presence of the luminous Ms. Hawn. If'n she had gotten nekkid you would have heard about this farce of a travesty but the only gal to give up goodies was Lorraine De Selle, actress turned producer.

Rack and rumpus from Ms. De Selle.



God's Gun

(aka Diamante Lobo, 1976)

This is a Western made in Israel that stars Richard Boone, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Palance. The usual tale of vengeance - what movie is not a tale of vengeance in some form? - that has Van Cleef playing twins, one who is gunned down by Palance and the other who takes off his clerical collar to get the man who got his brother. Palance gained quite the reputation late in his career, thanks to a self-parody in that Billy Crystal movie, but he could over-act with the best...or worst...of them. Here is at his florid best or worst. Leif Garret (remember HIM??!!!) plays Sybil Danning's son. Turns out he is also Palance's son from an involuntary one-night stand, which he remembers in classic movie style, with fuzzy edges filling most of the frame, which is why the caps look so damn lousy. Anyway, Van Cleef faces off with the bad guy and saves the dusty Western town - yada, yada y'all. Rates a 4.2 on IMDb and deserves it.

My heart went out to Richard Boone. That man could act. My favorite of his roles was that of Jack Fain in Big Jake, in which he teams up with John Wayne in two scenes that confirmed for all time that Richard Boone was one terrific actor and John Wayne was one terrific John Wayne. Anyway, he was thrown to the wolves in God's Gun - it was like watching Michael Jordan play baseball: stratospheric talent in the wrong game.

Sybil Danning



Clean Kill


This one does manage to crawl over the Mendoza line with a 5.1 on IMDb. If you had spent the past 1200 years frozen in carbonite (whatever that is) and had thus been deprived of all storytelling in the semi-modern human form you would finish this movie and think, "Wow! How amazingly clever!" Twelve centuries of imagination and skillful invention have taken care of that. It's not a matter of figuring out what is up a third of the way through the movie. You could fail somehow to do that, although in that case your IQ would be too low to discern the intricate ways of a DVD player so someone else would have to press PLAY for you, and still you would reach the final, climatic scene and say to yourself - Big Fucking Deal. Roxanne Zal - with a face and form that entertain - shows a single hootie in two dark and extremely short scenes. She would have had to get nekkid and get down on all fours in a half-dozen scenes, each lasting five minutes to save this one. At least that would have been novel.

Roxana Zal









Film Clips

Two from Pinocchio's Revenge, kind of a 1996 Chucky rip-off. Candace McKenzie and Rosalind Allen.