JANUARY 22, 2008
Last summer I went to see the remake of The Wizard Of Gore, and wasn’t exactly thrilled by it. I hated the main character, the sound design made me want to punch someone in the face, and it was just plain boring for the most part. I was assured the original was better in all respects, but I didn’t go out of my way to see it until tonight, when it played at my beloved New Beverly Cinema as part of their monthly “Grindhouse” festival. I should also note that for the first time ever, I won one of the raffle prizes; I am now the proud owner of a Triple H shirt.
Anyway, whoever told me that the original was better was right on 2/3 of the problems. The sound was fine, and the lead character was certainly more likable. But again, the movie is just damn boring. The kill scenes are delightfully gory, but even those are way too drawn out. At one point, Montag kills two girls by shoving swords down their throat. The crowd is hypnotized to believe that everything is fine. After he finishes, he slowly takes the sword out of the girl’s mouth, then undoes the rope around her left hand, then her right, then does a little bow while the crowd cheers. All of this takes like two minutes of screentime. And then he does the entire thing again with the other girl, taking another couple of minutes with him.
And ALL of the kill scenes are like this! It’s like a moebius strip of a movie: the magic show begins, Montag brings up a volunteer from the audience to verify whatever he’s going to use is real, then he kills a girl on stage while the hypnotized crowd watches, then the girl walks off stage, the show is over, the girl dies, the scene is investigated, our hero and his girl talk about it, sleep together, talk to some cops, and then the whole cycle starts again. You could edit out one “cycle” of the film and no one would ever know. Finally, it breaks the mold a bit for a finale, but that is botched as well since we get the ‘it was all a dream’ bullshit.
Now, to be fair, I still had fun watching the film, because roughly half the crowd thought they were as funny as Mike Nelson, and spent the entire time talking back to the screen. See, on MST3k, it’s scripted, and there’s three guys following the script, so it all works. But in a theater with 300 people, you end up getting off timed comments, people talking over one another, everyone scrambling for dominance. And then of course, some folks don’t want to hear anyone but the people in the movie, so they start yelling “shut up!” and the like. Well, for someone like me, who is relatively quiet, this provides just as much, if not more, of the enjoyment. Some of the comments were funny (during the scene where Montag removed the sword from the girl’s throat, someone yelled “she’s a quart low”, which killed me), but everyone mocking a particularly unfunny comment (or simply yelling at the other people to shut up) was even funnier to me. I really should record the ‘commentary’ the next time I attend a movie there; it really does add a lot to the proceedings. Because honestly, without a group of appreciative folks, there’s no way in hell this one would have retained my interest. Thanks fellas!
Also, the gore scenes ARE pretty great, mainly because they're so ridiculous. The final one, Montag doesn't even seem to be using a weapon, and is simply tearing the girl apart with his bare hands. Splatter at its finest. And I sort of like the "who cares" cheapness of it all: the not-even-trying-to-fool-you fake heads, the near empty sets, the television studio that apparently has NASA connections, etc. I also like how the credit sequence, which is mainly blood and other red things, has red titles as well, so most of them are wholly unreadable. Marvelous.
It’s not reviewed, but 2000 Maniacs was one of the first movies I watched when I began watching one every day. I didn’t care too much for that either (though it was certainly better than this), so maybe I just don’t like Herschell Gordon Lewis much. I’ll give Blood Feast a try at some point, but if that one doesn’t get me, I’m afraid I’ll have to give up trying.
What say you?