Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie Review #21: Wizard of Gore (re-make)


The horror re-makes of the past few years have been, for lack of a better word, boring. Granted almost everything in horror has been done, so any new film is indirectly paying homage to some horror film of the past whether it claims to or not. Seriously though - how many different ways can you kill someone? How many times can the victim fall down while running away? Is it possible that the genre itself has finally become oversaturated with cliches and cookie cutter plot development? Well just when you thought modern American horror was doomed, in steps The Wizard of Gore.

Attempting to re-create a film by the gore master Herschell Gordon Lewis is indeed a tricky task. But in this case, director Jeremy Kasten does the original film (1970) justice by not only keeping the gore intact but re-working the story into a modern hallucinogenic terror experience. Set in present day Los Angeles, a writer named Edmund Bigelow (played by Kip Pardue) and his girlfriend (Bijou Phillips) frequent a local magic show. The magician, Montag The Magnificent, is played astonishingly well here by Crispin Glover (Willard, 2003), who has come a long way since Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985). The Suicide Girls make several appearances and are, of course, completely naked. Hand-picked by Montag from the audience, the girls are slain on stage behind a sheet of smoky glass, sending the audience into a frenzy only to be shocked that the girls leave the stage without a scratch. The real terror begins when the same girls start turning up dead after the show with the same wounds.

Edmund is determined to reveal Montag as the murderer, but the viewer is mislead by various hallucinations in which Edmund himself appears to be the killer. A mind-control drug referred to as tetrodotoxin (found in puffer fish) is used by Montag on the audience and show participants to create his gory illusion - as a result the viewer loses all sense of reality, allowing Kasten to really let loose his vision. This is not the kind of film you can watch once and understand - a second or third viewing is advised. The plot is all over the place, and the action is very confusing. One thing is certain - Kasten used the original film as a foundation, but creates something brand new and surprisingly original. I give The Wizard of Gore 5 toes - this is one of the best horror films I have seen this year. It just came out straight to DVD on Tuesday so go pick up a copy immediately.


GONE said...

As usual your review was right on point. This movie was AMAZING sex/drugs/and gore.

Anonymous said...

Just watched it and think the murders all really happen on stage and the audience is drugged into believing it's an act while our hero has been drugged into believing he is to blame but he could have been drugged into actually killing the girl in the video although we never actually see it. The shop/stripper owner never thought his girls would be killed but is in too deep to turn in the magician, so they both decide to frame our hero and use him. Very interesting horror flick more unique than ever anticpated.