Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Wizard of Gore

Well, I’ve done it. I have finally found the worst movie ever made. Now, on the surface this may seem like a pretty bold statement considering some of the other films that I have subjected my readers to in the past. After all I consider movies such as “Bad Girls go to Hell”, “Thankskilling”, and “The Killer Shrews” to be seminal achievements in filmmaking history. Well, not really, but at least I know what to expect going into them, and I truly appreciate that. Movies like “Town and Country”, “Baby Geniuses: Part 2”, and “The Postman” all hide behind the A-list actors on their DVD cases until you actually watch them, at which point you feel as though you’ve just done 1900 squat thrusts in a cucumber patch and the only way you’ll regain any sense of well-being is by kicking the closest pet or loved one square in the tunders. They are horrible movies that pretend to be worthwhile…absolutely no redeeming qualities at all. Still, it should come as no surprise that the movies I love are bad. But they know they are bad, and they embrace the fact. As such, I am on a constant quest to find that movie…that one movie…the movie that after sitting through all 95 minutes of schlocky hand puppets covered in gore and screaming teens awash in red corn syrup I can say to myself, “Hoooleee shit. THAT was the worst movie I have ever seen.” Hey, it keeps me out of trouble.

Well that long awaited moment came to me on a nondescript Saturday night a couple of weeks ago when I sat down to consume the movie that essentially launched the whole gore exploitation genre, “The Wizard of Gore.” Some may consider my assertion that this is the worst movie ever made sacrilege since it was in fact a seminal event in filmmaking history. It was THE movie that brought horror movies out of the Lon Cheney “Wolfman” era and stuffed them square into a bucket of pig intestines. However, there’s only so far a man can bow before he starts smelling his own arse.

“The Wizard” was directed by legend of the genre Herschell Gordon Lewis who started out in the industry churning out low-budget nudie exploitation films such as “B-O-I-N-G!” (1963) and “Goldilocks and the Three Bares” (1963), which is a nudist musical. I’ll give you a moment to wipe off your screen. Yes, that’s what I said…a nudist musical. First and foremost, Lewis was a smart businessman. Once he saw that his nudies weren’t faring so well he jumped ship and launched the gore genre with the brilliant “Blood Feast” (1963) immediately followed in rapid succession by “Two Thousand Maniacs” (1964) and “Color Me Blood Red” (1965). Needless to say, these movies aren’t…well, let’s just say they aren’t the best. After a handful of other gems branching out into other genres (including a couple of children’s films {gulp}) Lewis disappeared until his reappearance in 2002 with the sequel to “Blood Feast” aptly named “Blood Feast 2”. By the time “The Wizard of Gore” came about in 1970 Lewis was ready to push the envelope even further, which, admittedly he did.

This is going to be a difficult review to write since this movie doesn’t contain anything resembling normal items moviegoers seek such as a plot, acting, or editing. The show is literally just a string of gore-strewn scenes semi-loosely tied together by a storyline that is worse than that of the XXX remake of “Cheers.” The story is about a hypno-magician that entices young women onto his stage only to literally saw them in half, drive spikes through their heads, cram swords down their throats, etc. All of the above scenes are shot in glorious detail with ample use of animal innards and obvious mannequin parts. The women are released (seemingly) unharmed as the audience realizes that the trick is that they had just been mass hypnotized into believing they just saw a woman being crushed in an industrial press…or had they? All of the volunteers die a short time later of wounds similar to what they had experienced on stage. Then for some reason an investigative reporter chooses to broadcast a show live. Why not? That seems like something CBS would put over the airwaves at the time, right? Anyway, it’s a disaster, and anyone who witnessed the broadcast ends up with horrible wounds. Then, predictably, the reporter’s boyfriend tears off his face to reveal that he is the magician controlling reality…ugh. So he decides to cut her up for fun only to have her sit up and reveal that SHE is the one who is actually controlling reality. Oh, Christ. Confused? Well, this is only what I think the storyline is since it was very difficult to piece together with no acting or editing. I had to watch the movie twice just to make sure the DVD player wasn’t broken and skipping around at random. Now I wish that it were.

The budget for this “masterpiece of crap” couldn’t have been more than $60. Surely the actors couldn’t have been paid, and certainly they didn’t have a script to go off of. In fact the lead actor was originally just a technician who was pressed into service after the original choice for lead (smartly) was a no-show. None of the other “actors” ever appeared in another film, probably because they got lost on their way back to the studio lot. Now, my fellow fans of the genre are going to scream at their monitors calling me a heretic for daring to say that this genre-creating opus is the worst movie ever made. They’ll say that you can’t use the same measuring stick to review this film as you do for “Last Tango in Paris.” It is the content of this movie that truly matters, not the movie itself. Well, I’m calling bullshit. I literally could not sit through this one again as schlocky and wonderfully gore-ridden as it may be. Why? Because on top of being intentionally bad (which don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate), it appears that there was very little effort put into it besides smashing some sheep’s brains all over plastic replicas of people. I understand where the movie stands in the canon of exploitation films, but, my fellow gore hounds and genre fans, it’s still a stinker.

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