Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Wizard of Gore - In Devastating Color

The Wizard of Gore
"Me a ghoul? You're the one who wanted to see pictures of human ravioli for dessert."

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writer:Allen Kahn
Stars: Ray Sager, Judy Cler, Wayne Ratay
Runtime: 140 Minutes
Rated: NR for Chainsaw Evisceration, 1 Head in a Wicker Basket, Forceful Sword Swallowing, HypnoVision

Sherry Carson is the host of the Housewives Coffee Break on NBC 17. She and her sports writer boyfriend Jack attend a magic show featuring Montag the Magnificent (played by Lewis regular Ray Sager). Montag is a very theatrical, intense weirdo, complete with top hat and cape. Classic weirdo. He spouts a lengthy monologue about dreams and reality, not unlike the kind of talk you might hear from a bunch of stoned hippies around a camp fire late at night. I hate to be negative right away, but I have to say this monologue was pretty long and repetitive. In fact I may have dozed off had Montag not kept shouting his lines.

After this monologue, and a pretty neat self-guillotine trick, he uses hypnosis to get a female volunteer from the audience for the classic sawing a woman in half bit. Montag does this trick a little differently. Instead of putting the woman in a box and using a hacksaw, he does it out in the open, on a table, with a chainsaw. He cuts the woman's stomach open and she lets out a blood curdling scream and dies on the table. Montag starts riffling through her guts like he's dropped his keys in there. After a classic 30 second H.G. lingering gore shot the next second the woman is perfectly fine. Her dress and stomach are completely un-chainsawed. The crowd goes wild... for about 10 seconds, then everyone just stands up, and quietly leaves without anyone saying anything. It's an awkward way to end a show.

Shortly after the show the female volunteer goes to a restaurant, and before she even gets her drink order in she drops dead in the middle of the room with the exact same gaping chainsaw wound from the show. 

Sherry, being blown away by Montag's performance wants him to appear on her show. At first he refuses, but after realizing he could hypnotize the entire Housewives Coffee Break over the air he agrees. So over the next several nights Jack and Sherry see Montag's show, and every volunteer from each show turns up dead by the same method used in the show. One girl has a large spike driven through her skull and has her brains removed. Another has a punch press rip through her torso.

Jack and Sherry become involved with the police to try and figure out just what the hell is going on with Montag the Magnificent and his deranged brand of magic. 

The Wizard of Gore is leisurely paced and about 15-20 minutes too long. At about the hour mark I checked the time and was stunned to see another 40 minutes left in the running time. It's longer than I'm used with H.G. Lewis movies, I think it just caught me off guard. Although I think A Taste of Blood is a full 2 hours, so Wizard isn't his longest.

It's pretty talky, especially when Sager is onscreen. He really seemed to be having a great time hamming it up while wearing a cape and playing with ladies' guts. 

The movie does deliver the gore. Once we get beyond one of the all-time worst fake heads the world has ever seen, the gore is graphic and lingering. It's even almost a bit sickening at times. In addition to the gore, Wizard also rewards patience viewers with an amazing and absurd  final 10 minutes. You'll be confused as hell, but it's still pretty awesome.

Overall I enjoyed it, though out of the 6 Lewis movies I've seen (this, Blood Feast, 2,000 Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, Something Weird and Blood Feast 2) I'd probably rank this my 5th favorite right before Blood Feast 2.

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