Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Wizard of Gore (Remake)

The idea of a remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1970 exploitation film The Wizard of Gore was an intriguing one. Lewis’ films have always enjoyed cult cachet (they are referenced by the title character in Juno), but they were made on shoestring budget and it would seem they would benefit from better production values. The casting was also top notch, including genre veterans Brad Dourif and Jeffrey Combs (nearly unrecognizable under a ton of makeup) and most enticing, the eccentric yet talented Crispin Glover as the title character. Unfortunately, although all three actors deliver, the movie is something of a muddled mess.

The movie seems to be set in a slightly surreal alternate reality (although the city is identified as Santa Monica), where a young reporter/publisher of an alternative newspaper attends, along with his girlfriend (Bijou Phillips), the performances of a magician (Crispin Glover). His show is short, and consists of pulling an audience member onstage, killing them in gory fashion, and then “revealing” they are alive and well. However, the subjects later turn up dead, killed in the same fashion as they were onstage. Which is reality and which is illusion?

The movie is murky, and some scenes seem disconnected from their proper place in the sequence of events, although in its defense [SPOILER] most of the characters perceptions are drug-altered throughout the film. Glover commands your attention, but regrettably, when the focus shifts to Pardue (which is most of the time) the movie seems to be running on fumes. A more charismatic actor who was able to hold his own with Combs, Dourif and Glover would have made the movie much better. For the gorehounds out there, it was reasonably graphic, although perhaps not so much for a movie with the word “Gore” in the title.

The victims of the stage show are played by The Suicide Girls, who I assume are a troupe of punkish strippers. Their chief contribution is a willingness to get naked.

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