Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rica (1972)

Believe it or not (and despite my constant protestations that I detest nature), I actually went to summer camp twice when I was young (I even went camping a few times, but I think those experiences only hastened my distaste for the out-of-doors).  The first time was to a music camp, but I remember learning very little there, and couldn’t tell you if I even got to perform in the big concert that closed out the week.  The second time was just a regular old summer camp.  Having seen too many films like Meatballs and Friday The Thirteenth and so on, I expected to either have a raucous frolic of a time or be stalked relentlessly before being killed in some horrifically graphic manner. 

Neither actually occurred, as you might guess, but since I had a whole mess of pent-up expectations, they had nowhere left to go but into an over-anxiousness which led ineffably to unintended destructiveness and a tendency to act out.  Thus did I find myself on the wrong end of disciplinary measures.  Oh, no one hit me or molested me in any way, shape, or form, but I wound up being put into “time out” (at a time before “time out” was the first resort of authoritarians) for much of my stay.  On the plus side, our cabin did a karaoke stage show (more like a Puttin’ On The Hits lip sync show) of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man (I got to pretend I was Bill Ward).  Needless to say, we didn’t win the talent show.  From this experience I can’t say I know what being sent off to a reform school is like, but you wouldn’t know it from the way I felt arriving home (I literally kissed the ground when I walked in my house).  Naturally, they’re not the same thing, but try telling that to a twelve-year-old.

A very pregnant Kazue (Wakako Chiara) writhes on the black, sandy beach, crying in torment.  Young Rica (Rika Aoki) comes upon her friend and discovers she has taken poison to kill both herself and the baby.  Barging in on Kazue’s husband Hiroshi (Goro Daimon) having sex with another woman, Rica delivers unto him his stillborn child, telling him to give it a proper burial.  Hiroshi and members of the Tachibana Gang show up at Rica and her gang’s hangout, and she and Hiroshi have a hand-to-hand duel.  After plucking out the man’s eyes and killing him, Rica is shipped off to reform school, but her gang are attacked, raped, and kidnapped by the Tachibanas for a purpose even more nefarious.

It’s amazing to me, the level of subtlety actually at play in Ko Nakahira’s Rica (aka Rika The Mixed-Blood Girl aka Konketsuji Rika), considering it’s part of a subgenre (Pinku Eiga or Pinky Violence, among other sobriquets) not known for nuance.  Rika plays the role rather stoically, some would say woodenly, but it’s fitting to my mind for a character who has had to toughen up fast.  Rika hasn’t had an easy life.  She was an unwanted child, and her mother (Kazuko Imai) became a hooker after Rica was born.  The man her mother brings home (Sotoshi Moritsuka) not only rapes Rica (her first sexual encounter) but also plays a sizeable role in the remainder of the plot.  And there are also very light suggestions as to themes of love versus sex.  Rica has no compunction about using sex to get information (and then maiming her informant afterward), and she even dances and sings in her underwear at the Tachibana Gang’s club (one of the highlights of the film), but she does it all out of a sense of loyalty for those she counts as friends as well as for Tetsu, the gangster who appeared out of nowhere to offer Rica assistance when she was jumped by yakuza.  

Yes, Rica has a heart, and she does offer it up but only when the receiver has proved his worth to her.  However, it is difficult to argue for female empowerment in this and other Pinky Violence films.  True, Rica is a capable young woman, and she takes no guff from men.  Usually she is in charge of whom she gives her body to, and she makes conscious, fully-aware decisions in that regard.  By that same token, Rica and just about every other woman in the film is sexually objectified in the sleaziest manner possible.  If you’ve ever seen a film like this one, you know what to expect: the men’s bulging eyes, the tearing off of women’s clothes, the clawing and gnawing of men on women’s bodies (mostly the breasts, though the shoulders get a good working out, too).  So, for as strong as any woman is in these films, I would argue they’re really only as strong as the male audience is comfortable watching.

Like so many films coming out of Japan at the time (and for a long time following) the plot of Rica is fairly random (or at least has a strong feeling of randomness about it).  It leaps from situation to situation with no seeming regard for a through line.  It sort of has an overarching plot that it follows whenever it damn well pleases, but the filmmakers appear to not care how it actually turns out, so long as something skanky or bloody happens every ten minutes or so (give Nakahira credit in this regard; he knows his audience).  There’s a circularity at play, and it’s almost comical.  When you see Rica sit down and make a heartfelt plea with the head of one gang only to get screwed over, and then see her sit down and make a heartfelt plea with the head of another gang later (using many of the same camera angles and shot framing), you can’t help but chuckle.  Plus, this woman has more hand-to-hand duels (replete with henchmen who are told to stay out of it) in one film than in any ten Jean-Claude Van Damme films.  Yet characters appear for what we assume is just a small bit only to disappear for long stretches and then reappear later on as major players.  For as cohesive as the story is allowed to be, it also confounds said cogency.  I’ll give you an example.  Rica goes looking for her mother and tracks her to a department store where she witnesses a crime which takes the film off in a completely different direction, forgetting about her mother entirely until she pops up later so coincidentally as to be absurd (though the ultimate payoff of this discovery is pretty great).  The film hits the points it needs to, and it’s entertaining enough for them, but the structure is so scattershot it makes it difficult to immerse yourself in Rica’s trials and tribulations enough to care about what happens to her, her gang, or her acquaintances.  Am I interested in seeing the other two films in the trilogy?  Sure.  Am I in any rush to get there?  Not really.

MVT:  Looking at 1970s Japan from this gutter level angle captivates me.  The seedy side of the polished financial juggernaut intrigues me no end, and just knowing that the Japanese fell prey to many of the same piss poor fashion trends as the rest of the world (maybe even more), makes me happy inside.

Make Or Break:  The opening sequence of the film is startling and compelling as all hell.  It promises a level of depth and depravity, but the remainder only really delivers on the latter.  I defy you to come up with a curtain-raiser more jaw-dropping and attention-grabbing than the one in Rica.

Score:  6.25/10

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hardware (1990)

Directed by Richard Stanley

Runtime: 93 minutes

So there was a nuclear war. Nuclear destruction did not stop the fighting between either unknown side. Most of the world is an irradiated desert. Also Lemmy from Motorhead is forced to a drive cab and Iggy Pop is insane radio DJ. This is the feel good movie that is Hardware.

The movie starts with a red tinted sky, red tinted desert and a nomadic junk collector wandering the desert looking for things of value. The Nomad (played by Carl McCoy) finds a minefield and robot that had the misfortune of stepping on one. So in stupid movie logic, the Nomad picks up the all robot pieces he can and starts the plot moving forward.

The scene shifts to the ruins of some bombed out city on Christmas Eve. We meet Moses (play by Dylan McDermott) and Shades (played by John Lynch). Moses has been recently let go by the Corps and Shades is an astronaut. It is good to know that even after nuclear war there will still be a space program.

The two of them go to visit Alvy (played by Mark Northover) to see about selling some salvage so Moses can pick up a Christmas for his girlfriend. While at Alvy's Moses encounters Nomad and buys the robot parts. He leaves a hand with Alvy and takes the rest to his girlfriend's place.

Jill (played by Stacey Travis) is Moses' girlfriend and an artist who specializes in sculpture made out of scrap metal. She is being stalked by Lincoln (played by William Hootkins) who is an ex security expert and all round creepy jerk. Also the movie goes out of it's way to get the audience to loath this man.

Now that we have meet most of the victims it is time to set up how they get killed. Moses and Jill have a softcore scene or two. Lincoln watches Moses and Jill and behaves like a perverted bastard who has a kill me note taped to his back. Shades is getting wasted on some sort of drug and will be useless for the rest of the film  And Alvy does some research on the robot and finds that it is a classified military robot. A Baal mark 13 robot. Which means it has multiple killing arms, can recharge itself on any power source but solar, has a neurotoxin that kills while making the victim feeling euphoric and will breakdown if you get it wet. 

Alvy calls Moses with the new about the robot. With everyone being busy doing what ever it is they are doing, the robot decides to start rebuilding itself. Also it has the ability to remote control it's body parts over amazing distances. So the robot starts by getting it's hand to kill Alvy with the neurotoxin. So Moses arrives to late help Alvy but finds all the notes on the killer robot. Back at Jill's apartment the robot has switched to slasher mode and takes it time killing Jill.

Lincoln noticing that Jill is dressed and Moses is gone decides to go over to her place and get himself killed. Moses calls Shades to help in this impending crisis but Shades is next to bloody useless. So Moses hurries to get back to Jill. Back at Jill's apartment Lincoln finally gets killed by opening the blinds where the robot had been hiding. Jill goes back to avoiding being killed by the robot as Moses eventually gets back to the apartment.

Moses and couple of apartment security guards try to get into the apartment but the robot has locked the doors. With some work Moses and the guards get the door open but the robot uses the door the crush one guard and as the guard dies he shoots the other guard. Moses gets into the apartment but finds that it has left. This is just a rouse as the robot is out side the building and pulls Jill out on the ledge. She manges to grab a power line that the robot cuts and causes her to crash into her downstairs neighbor's place.

Moses get killed by the neurotoxin and we are shown what it looks like to him as he dies. Jill recovers from crashing into her neighbor's place and goes back to apartment to confront the robot. The robot is waiting for her and starts stalking her. For some reason I could not catch after re-watching the film a couple more time, Jill knows that water is the robot's one weakness and lures it to the shower. The robot follows Jill to the shower and Jill turn the shower on and beats the crap out of it with a baseball bat. Oh and Shades shows up after the fact. The movie ends with DJ Iggy Pop talking about how the government has approved the mass production of these killer robots and a final shot of The Nomad wandering the desert wastes.

MVT: This looks like it is a society that has find and reuse everything. Also the tv segments that show up through the movie really hit home the point how horrible the whole situation is.

Make or Break: Two breaks for me. The first is how this robot who is an expert at killing people fails at killing a stoned women on a bed. The second is the pacing of the film. The beginning just drags for the first half hour like the they forgot the parking break is still on and then it moves along for the rest of the film.
Make for me is the whole feel of the whole movie. Everything in this movie looks like what you may in a society that is war weary.

Score:  7.85/10

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bonus #52: Lesson of the Evil

Welcome back to the Gentlemen's Guide to Honor and Humanity!!!

Your 3 magnificent hosts Large William, Unccol Cat and Jake McLargeHuge pontificate on Takashi Miike's latest film Lesson of the Evil (2013).

Mackie Messer steady rockin' Fleur de Lis loafers, y'all!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_bonus_52.mp3 
Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Episode #245: The Telephone Book

Welcome back Gentle Minions!!!

This week we bring you coverage of Vinegar Syndrome's release of The Telephone Book (1971) directed by Nelson Lyon. 

This is an underground film from the 70's that Large William nor Sammy had ever heard of honestly...check out what we thought of the film and head over to to pick it up or any of their other fine releases!!!
We also go over a bunch of email and discuss Sammy's recent trip to see some dear friends!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_245.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Legion Of Iron (1990)

Billy (Kevin T. Walsh), whom you wouldn’t have to ask to not be a hero in the first place, is a football star (read: glory hog) for some nameless college whose games are seemingly played at the local community park.  His main squeeze Alison (Camille Carrigan) is, unironically enough, a cheerleader.  She won’t, however put out until she’s married.  So, while the two are necking after “the big game,” they are summarily subdued and whisked away by helicopter to a clandestine complex in the desert.  At the insistence of the wicked Diana (Erika Nann), Billy is to become a killer for her underground gladiator fights.  Alison is redubbed Aphrodite, and turned into a harem girl to be used by the strongest of the fighters, in this case Rex (Stefanos Miltsakakis).  Fellow gladiator Lyle Wagner (Reggie De Morton) takes Billy under his wing to train him for Diana’s death matches.

Legion Of Iron is Yakov Bentsvi’s premier directorial effort (he is more prolific as a producer), and it is entirely predicated on the question “wouldn’t it be cool if….?”  There is nothing in this film which isn’t some puerile, eighteen-year-old boy’s fantasy.  There’s an underground fortress.  There’s a dominatrix eager to dole out equal parts pleasure and pain at a whim.  There are buff, oiled guys beating the shit out of each other for sport.  Selfsame guys are all dressed like stereotypes: soldier, barbarian, tribal chief, etcetera).  There are hot women whose sole purpose is to pleasure the men.  There’s a paramotorized ultralight aircraft.  Unfortunately, there’s also no depth whatsoever.  This film is the very definition of being a mile long and one inch deep.  Actually, come to think of it, it’s not even that deep.

Of course, there are those who bemoan reactions like mine to films like this.  I know.  I suck all the fun out of watching dumb shit, and this is not to say that I don’t enjoy things like this myself, mind you.  But I believe there’s also a difference between giving a film a pass because it was never intended to be other than mindless fodder and giving a film a pass despite its utter incompetence.  To clarify, then, there are things I enjoyed about this film, and there are even some things going on which are kind of unusual for the genre (that is, after all, why I write these essays in the first place, or at least what I tell myself), but it is not well-made.  The fight choreography in the film is at or below the level of ten-year-olds grabassing at the playground.  Every action is stilted.  Every reaction is a flinch, which is especially humorous considering these guys are meant to be trained killers.  More’s the pity, since there are some nice desert landscape shots on the outside of complex, but aside from these, Legion Of Iron is amateur hour.  On to the more interesting aspects.

The character of Diana is one we’ve seen before many, many times.  Normally the archetype is a little more subtle than depicted here, though.  Some of the first lines of dialogue she has for Billy include these gems:  “What is reality?  Just what the strong think is right,” and “You will worship me like a queen.”  She is all about pain and pleasure, and she equates love with hate and vice versa.  The very first question that occurs to anyone watching this film is “why would these guys choose Billy for their little fight club in the first place?”  The second question is “what about this dipshit is so attractive to a woman like Diana who, even if she couldn’t attract a man (which she definitely could), could certainly afford to rent one?”  But Diana makes no bones about whipping a fighter in front of the others.  She bears no obloquy for her desire to give and receive pain.  She’s a hellcat, and aside from those who would shy away from the more afflictive facets of lovemaking with her, she’s what young men (and some young women) most often think they want from a woman.

Alison, on the other hand, embodies the Madonna-whore complex.  She’s a virgin.  She wants to remain a virgin.  She’ll go in for some foreplay and light groping, but that’s pretty much it.  Once she’s brought into Diana’s web, her virginity is given to Rex in an act of rape which is both sleazy and surprisingly bereft of meaning.  Alison is degraded and used as a sex tool, making her attractive (or as attractive as white lipstick and silver lamé can make one) in that she (involuntarily) puts out, whereas when she wanted to keep her chastity, she was less glamorized from the film’s point of view.  After Diana volunteers Alison to be gang raped by fifteen or twenty guards, Alison becomes enthusiastic about her new position (no pun intended).  We, of course, expect this to be a ruse to lure Diana into a false sense of security, but there is absolutely no indication this is the case.  Alison will still attempt to escape, but she also makes no attempt to avoid or protest her harem-ly duties.  Only after she is ritually sexualized and becomes desirous of sex can she become a true mate for Billy (or Rex, or anybody else for that matter).  It’s a pretty Neolithic view of women, but to the filmmakers’ credit, that they went as far as allowing their damsel in distress to undergo what she does is pretty ballsy.

Oddly enough, for how far the film goes with the levels of debasement the characters are forced to endure, they also carry little weight aside from motivating Billy to be filled with righteous indignation and rage.  We see Alison getting raped by Rex, and she’s crying, but somehow the movie manages to get us to not really care.  Add to that, she seems pretty okay with everything only a scene or two later, and you’re left with the notion that the filmmakers simply don’t give a damn.  They go through the motions, it’s true.  It’s difficult to not be amused by some of the wilder visuals (say, a skinny segarsi who wears a spangled Ziggy Stardust  outfit with hot pants when he’s supposed to be a badass), but I was completely uninvolved in Legion Or Iron.  I’ve seen Tex Avery cartoons that took their stories more seriously than this.  If you’re in an altered state of consciousness, you may find a lot to love in this movie.  Otherwise, I would suggest not.

MVT:  Diana is intriguing in that she really is the one in control of these men.  In that respect, she’s actually a strong female character.  On the flip side, however, her characterization is thin as cardboard, so any positives to her become simply rote Action villain tropes.

Make Or Break:  The training montages are tough to watch, not only because they’re awkwardly staged and scattered through the film at seemingly random points, but also because they don’t offer much in the way of progression.  The whole point of a training montage is for the character we’re focusing on to acquire some skill in order to overcome the upcoming obstacles.  So, even though Billy gets the drop on Wagner in training, his movements are still as bungling as they were when the two started.

Score:  5/10

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Instant Action: Commando (1985)

Ah, Bill Paxton, you show up in so many great action movies!

Screenplay By: Steven E. de Souza
Directed By: Mark L. Lester

There are certain hallmarks, or trademarks if you will, that I have begun to look for in action movies. It's not a prerequisite that an action film have these trademarks. Rather, I know what I am getting into when certain criteria start being met. It's almost like a checklist, I move down a list as the film progresses and smirk as the film hits all these various trademarks. The one era in particular that is capable of hitting almost all of these trademarks every time out is the 1980s action film. Whether it's straight to video, or a Hollywood blockbuster, there's something about 1980s action that I'm able to connect with in a way that isn't the case with action from other eras. Commando was a trademark film from beginning to end, and as is often the case with 1980s action trademark films, I had a fricking blast watching Commando.

To start off with, Commando gives us a montage of bad asses killing random people followed by a montage of Arnold Schwarzenegger eating ice cream with Alyssa Milano. Two very different ideas, that shouldn't work next to one another, yet they do. The reason for this is simple, Commando is an absurd film. It is balls to the wall craziness and action from the moment it starts. Mark L. Lester must have realized his film didn't have much besides action and being crazy because that's all he really aims for in Commando. In a lesser film this would be a flaw, but not in a film like Commando. It isn't five minutes into the film when the daughter has already been kidnapped and our hero has already started killing baddies left and right. There's no restraint in Commando, but there's an economy of action that comes with the films inability, or unwillingness, to hold back.

Similar to the film, this review is a tad all over the pace. In my writing, that's not a good thing, but in Commando the scattershot nature of the screenplay is a great thing. In short order we are given a main villain who does a terrible Latin accent. The main opposition for our hero wears a chain mail shirt and looks like he's straight out of an S&M session. Our hero is given the epic name of John Matrix, and he can even smell the bad guys coming as long as he's downwind. The reluctant partner is tossed into the mix, and like clockwork she becomes a willing participant before too long. An armory is raided, and someone learns to fire a rocket launcher in about two minutes. This may seem like a description of the plot, but it really isn't. These are but a few of the things that take place in Commando that make the movie so awesome.

Commando is built around Mr. Schwarzenegger, and he is a perfect fit as the super soldier. I'm a pretty big fan of Mr. Schwarzenegger as an actor. Playing the action hero is obviously right in his wheel house. Yet, Commando offers him the chance to showcase one of his most underrated qualities as an actor, his comedic timing. He makes some absurd lines of dialogue work, and his deadpan delivery of comedic lines is always funny. Perhaps Steven E. de Souza was trying to be ironically funny with his screenplay, but I'm not completely sold on that line of thinking. The writing and the direction are tailored to suit the ability of Mr. Schwarzenegger as an actor, and in that sense Commando is a very well made film.

I've never seen any other film from Mr. Lester, and a quick look at his filmography reveals that Commando may be his one shining moment. And what a shining moment it is, I'll fight with anyone over Commando's place in the action lexicon. Mr. Lester's film delivers in spades when it comes to unadulterated and thrilling action sequences. The film, to use a common phrase, leaves everything it has action wise on the table. No punches are pulled, and that results in a lot of pleasing action. Sure, most of the action is preposterous, but that doesn't matter a lick. The action in Commando is well constructed and plays to all the strengths of the one man soldier action film.

Prior to this watch I hadn't seen Commando in years, and I'm mad at myself over that fact. The film moves along at a brisk pace, and it gets right into its action roots. The story is beyond simple, but the story isn't the point of a film like Commando. Mr. Schwarzenegger shines in an intense and well put together action film. Commando can hang with any other action film, from any era. It's absurd, it has plenty of amazing moments and out there characters. Basically, Commando is what people should look for in a pure action film. Or, at the least it's what I look for in a pure action film. I finished Commando with a smile on my face, and that smile hasn't waned yet. That tells one all they need to know about the quality of Commando as an action film.




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Episode #244: Forced to Kickbox

Welcome back for another episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week the Gents were lucky enough to have one of our very best Brah's on the show for coverage!!! Mattsuzaka ( joined us for his selection of Kickboxer (1989) starring Jean Claude Van Damme!! We also cover Clay's selection of Forced to Kill (1994) directed by Russell Solberg!!!

Once again we thank everyone for the help during the Kickstarter campaign and we thank these two for programming our show this week!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_244.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Wizard Of Gore (1970)

I have proclaimed in the past my upbringing as a monster kid and my love for horror hosts near and far.  What I haven’t discussed in any sort of detail, however, is the horror host we had right here in our own backyard.  The first time I saw Uncle Ted, he was guest hosting The Land Of Hatchy Milatchy (think WPIX’s The Magic Garden, only cheaper and without the folk singing), the Rosemary Clooney song being used as the program’s namesake and theme song (I can only assume with permission).  The show’s regular host, Miss Judy (played by Lois Burns in my youth, who took over from the original host, Nancy Berg) was rumored (and rumored is the only word for it, since there is no evidence I could find on this, and it sounds like the sort of thing dipshit children would say around a playground) to have been incarcerated for drug possession, so Uncle Ted had to fill in.  I’m certain the truth, as it so often is, was much more mundane. 

Back to my point, Uncle Ted literally looked like someone’s uncle.  He was tall and slender, had a walrus-ian mustache and a stentorian voice, and dressed a lot like Mehemet Bey from Hammer’s 1959 version of The Mummy (that is, like a Shriner, fez and all).  A short bit after seeing him on Hatchy Milatchy I would discover that Uncle Ted (real name Ted Raub) hosted a late night monster show titled Uncle Ted’s Ghoul School (which would move over to PBS and change its name to Uncle Ted’s Monstermania before cancellation sometime in the Nineties).  Unfortunately, it’s time slot prevented me from being able to actually sit and watch many of the early shows (I’ll tell you sometime about my abortive efforts to watch the show using a mirror), but somehow just knowing he was putting the energy in was almost enough.  

So, what has any of this got to do with Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Wizard Of Gore?  Well, just like Montag the Magnificent (Ray Sager), Uncle Ted was a magician.  He would cut strings in half, and they would magically reappear whole mere moments later, pour a jug of water into a paper cone from whence it would disappear, and so on.  Also like with Montag’s illusions, you could usually see the how trick was being done with my old Uncle Ted.  Whether his sleight of hand wasn’t quite up to snuff or he was not used to staging for television, I can’t say.  Yet, these seeming deficiencies didn’t drag Ted’s esteem down in my eyes (or in the eyes of those who remember him to this day).  If anything, they only further endeared the man to me.  He really was that uncle who shows up every now and again, does some fun stuff with the kids, and then leaves.  And that’s a sort of charm that money and artfulness cannot buy.

The film opens with Montag taking the stage and delivering a monologue, which includes such lines as, “What is real? Are you certain you know what reality is? How do you know that at this second you aren't asleep in your beds dreaming that you are here in this theater?”  Then he asks for a volunteer from the audience (Karin Alexana) and proceeds to chainsaw her in half in full view of the spectators.  Moments later, she appears fine, but when she goes to a restaurant after the show, she literally falls to pieces as the wounds she received from the chainsaw recur (and topples onto the conveniently plastic-covered carpet).  Meanwhile, television personality Sherry (Judy Cler) is completely taken with the morbid spectacle, though beau Jack (Wayne Ratay), who is incidentally one of the largest dickweeds I have ever set eyes upon, absolutely hates it.  Sherry attempts to get Montag on her show, but the eponymous wizard evades her, while continuing to invite her and Jack to his shows for each new depraved delectation.

Like every other Lewis film I’ve ever seen, The Wizard Of Gore is shot in the most utilitarian manner possible.  Most scenes play out predominantly in master shots with the occasional closeup inserted in the least fluid way possible.  Focus varies from shot to shot, but with a piece like this, it’s not a detriment.  The lack of gloss, the stilted filmmaking, the grandiloquent acting, the constant habit of actors looking straight at the camera lens (though it should be noted, there are, in fact, times when this practice is intentional) all give this film a verisimilitude that the presence of a big budget would tend to erase.  And I like that about this film and its ilk.  Sadly, the story itself is about enough to fill up a short film of about thirty-five minutes at the maximum, but the film clocks in at ninety-five minutes.  Thus, the plot goes like this:  Montag does his act, Montag spends an inordinate amount of time toying with his victims’ innards, the stage victim leaves and dies, Jack and Sherry argue, repeat.  

And this is not to say that the film doesn’t have some ideas at work (as Montag’s purple dialogue attests), but this is, essentially, a gore show.  The prestidigitator’s tricks are little more than Grand Guignol displays of blood and animal parts, and Lewis’s camera blithesomely leers at every square inch of meat on display.  As previously stated Sager really goes for the gusto, wiggling fleshy bits in front of the lens and practically smooshing chunks of grue between his fingers like wet Play Doh.  It’s like watching psychic surgery ramped up to the nth degree.  The level of graphicness is fairly startling for the time (but so was Lewis’s groundbreaking Blood Feast seven years prior).  What’s interesting is, for the animal scraps principally used in these scenes, there are also several manufactured body parts (I’m thinking here of a couple of papier maché heads) which totally undercut the effect.  Nonetheless, the incongruities do a lot to augment the level of amusement herein.  I’d wager it can be safely stated that Lewis’s films were never intended to be viewed forty-odd years from when they were made.  They were meant to bring young folks into a theater or drive-in, give them something they more than likely didn’t see every day, and then be forgotten (the order of which could most likely be shuffled around depending on how much necking was going down).  But have them we do, and the filters of modernity and the level of sophistication of the modern viewer can sometimes fog the intended reception of a film, for better or worse.


Speaking of which, The Wizard Of Gore is a film very much concerned with Jacques Lacan’s concept of the Gaze.  When Montag calls for volunteers from the audience, his eyes lock onto a woman.  Lewis cuts to an extreme closeup of Montag’s eyes.  Next thing, you know, a woman is on stage being eviscerated.  Women are objects in a very literal sense.  They are meatbags to be dismantled for Montag’s amusement.  Their insides are playthings for the magician.  By that same token, the viewer is implicated in this objectification, since we gathered specifically to watch this.  Montag’s monologues are directed largely at camera, and the camera is placed in the position of an audience member.  Montag gives sly, knowing looks at the audience at a couple of moments in the film when he’s not doing his act, letting us in on the sick joke and forcing a feeling of commiseration upon us.  The idea of being unable to look away from car accidents is suggested, and this is reinforced when Jack uses his press credentials (he’s a sports writer) for he and Sherry to have a peek at one of the crime scenes.  When Montag does appear on television, he again looks straight out at the audience, but this time the intent is to turn us into objects like the women he slaughtered in his show, rather than sharing some twisted mischief with us.  The film is carnage for the sake of carnage, but notions like this give it just a hint of substance.  It’s like a plate of bread with a miniscule piece of steak on it.  At least you got some steak with your bread, but with this film, ironically, the more gruesome bits are the metaphorical bread in the meal.

MVT:  When the gore gets going, it’s difficult to not look (thus pretty much proving Montag’s point) and be repulsed at the same time.  And Lewis has a knack for filming the color red which appears both dirty and painful onscreen.  He’s not “The Godfather Of Gore” for nothing, you know.

Make Or Break:  The scene where Montag hammers a spike through a woman’s head moves things into a higher realm of outlandishness.  Not only does the man pierce the lady’s melon and haul out her grey matter, but he also digs his fingers into her sockets and plucks out her bulbous eyes.  It’s a piece of gratuitousness that goes just one step beyond, and the extraneous bloodshed lends a layer of true madness to Montag’s methods.

Score:  6.25/10