The Wizard of Gore (1970)

Article 3461 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-27-2010
Posting Date: 2-4-2011
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Featuring Roy Sager, Judy Cler, Wayne Ratay
Country: USA
What it is: Gory head games

A magician named Montag the Magnificent performs extremely gory magical tricks on audience members; they leave the stage unharmed but later are found dead with their wounds intact. Could someone be stalking his volunteers and imitating the horrible tricks… or could it be Montag himself who is responsible?

Unless I’ve miscalculated, this should mark the end of my coverage of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s infamous gore movies from the sixties and seventies, though I’m probably not through with him yet; he has a few non-gore movies from the period that qualify, and he has resumed film-making in the last decade. This may be his most interesting movie since 2000 MANIACS, if for no other reason than the plot goes off into bizarre directions having to do with the nature of dreams and reality. Taking this into account, the bizarre jagged editing during the gore sequences actually contributes to a dreamlike atmosphere where you’re not supposed to be sure what the reality is. It’s almost as if he took the tacked-on ending concept for MONSTER A-GO GO and made a whole movie around it, one that would sustain the idea. Granted, the movie is still atrociously made; the acting is mostly abysmal, the pacing is bad, the sound is horrible…it’s the usual flaws you find in his movies. Furthermore, certain plot elements seem to promise revelations that never come; I’d like to know why Montag is stealing the corpses of the volunteers, but we never find out, and the movie even acknowledges that we don’t. Still, the movie does demonstrate that there was more to him than just the gore. Nevertheless, despite his positive qualities, I do find myself realizing that after I’ve seen each one of his gory movies, I really don’t have much motivation to watch any one of them again, which makes me suspect that his appeal will remain largely to gorehounds.

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