I’m quite tired of remakes; the abysmal “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Prom Night”, and “Black Christmas” remakes have all been terribly disappointing; don‘t even let me start with the Asian horror remakes such as “Shutter“, “Pulse“ and “One Missed call“. I guess much of its ‘shock’ value have greatly been diminished since we already have an idea just how it will turn out, but I do think that is no excuse. THE WIZARD OF GORE does have one thing going for it; and you guessed it--an abundance of BLOOD and GORE. I’m no gorehound, but this remake of the 1970 classic at least stayed true with its brutal violence, and somewhat to the original‘s plot.
Halloween night; a happy couple, Edmund Bigelow and Maggie (Kip Purdue and Bijou Philips respectively) are having a ball in a small town, taking in the sights, among costumed townsfolk. A weird, unkempt bearded man hands them an invite to a magic show by Montague the Magnificent (played by Crispin Glover). The two attend the magic show, and they see the same unkempt hobo bite off a rat’s head and consume it. Gross isn’t it? Shortly after, Montague chooses a young woman in the crowd--and not long after, she is stripped of all her clothes and brutally slaughtered on stage, only to appear alive a minute after. Edmund gains a special interest on the show, and decides to come back for repeated servings. Each ‘volunteer’ in the show is found dead a day after the show, with the same wounds inflicted on them after. Edmund, Maggie and Jinky (Joshua Miller) becomes obsessed in finding the truth behind the mysterious Montague.
Horror filmmaking has taken a step backward the past few years or so. To tell you the truth, I can’t remember when was the last time I enjoyed a truly memorable horror film. “Wizard of Gore” may not be perfect but it knew exactly what it wanted to do; present a gore-feature to emulate the essence of the original. It succeeds, the naked women, the blood and brutality is omnipresent in the proceedings, and may well be worth the price of purchase alone. The victims are played by members of the “Suicide Girls”. Some of the gore effects seemed to look a bit “campy” and it was a little difficult for me to tell whether some blood effects were CGI. The film has a very grainy look that adds some atmosphere to the film and promotes a somewhat “dreamlike” feel.
The film throws in a detective story amid all the blood and gore. To be honest, the film started interestingly enough but the plot is a little difficult to follow. The direction by Jeremy Kasten seemed a little convoluted at times, and the main antagonist Montague, felt a little underused. (which is such a shame, Glover exhibits such an unbalanced creepy charisma). The script throw in a lot of ideas but never fully develops each one. The final minutes of the film had a severe feeling of disconnection from the viewer, as you question just what everything was all about. I love mind-benders but this movie was too convoluted for its own good; the flashbacks, the dreams, the unanswered questions, all serve up to frustrations and the film confuses to the point of irritation. The film may have been better if it was longer, but the 90 minute running time is just not enough to justify its twists and turns to a credible resolution.
Bijou Philips is an interesting presence onscreen. I didn’t really realize how pretty she was in her previous films. Kip Purdue is decent, but I think he was a miscast in his role. His character felt a bit bland and uninteresting; I was a little bored with him. The cinematography is quite good though, the tilting style of the camera and extreme close-ups may seem slightly overdone but it does succeed in what it wanted to do. The feeling of “noirish” detective films may come to mind as the camera work does have its strong points.
My memory of the original film is quite unreliable, it has been many years since I’ve seen it in order to properly give a good comparison. (time to re-watch) Despite the feeling of frustrations I’ve felt, that I was disconnected with the film’s script--I followed the film pretty well and I do think it would be up to the viewer to decide whether it was just a figment of someone’s imagination or if it all really happened. The film just doesn’t offer any solid answers and whatever attempts it made to confuse is definitely successful, it’s just that after awhile, you will start to lose interest because of it’s rushed direction and forced attempts at being ‘cryptic‘. As a mind-bender, it feels rather pretentious but as a gore show--it is a very solid attempt. Those who are looking for an abundance of gruesome sequences will not be disappointed. While those scenes didn’t exactly go beyond its limits or push the envelope of brutality; for horror fans, the blood-soaked nudity may well be worth the price of the movie itself.
Recommended timidly to Gore Lovers, RENT it first. [2 ½ stars]
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