The Wizard of Gore (1970)
Another in gore auteur Herschell Gordon Lewis' seemingly endless line of reach-into-your body films not starring Ron Jeremy, "The Wizard of Gore" ups the ante from films previously viewed in The Vault ("Blood Feast" and "Color Me Blood Red") by amping up the sheel volume and creativity of the gore scenes.
This time Lewis goes all out, with a villain named Montag the Magnificent, a magician who seems to have the ability to both eviscerate the people who volunteer for him, then heal them instantly.
Alas, his powers seem to have a time limit, and his victims are soon once more suffering from their Montag-imposed maladies again, with fatal results.
The acting is of course appropriately Ed-Woodian in its lousiness, with actors dronging their dialog as if it's coming straight off of the nearest cue card, with facial expressions that are more evocative of "I gotta go to the bathroom" than "I'm really angry at this serial killer."
But it's the gore scenes that Lewis concentrated on, and the improvements are very evident. There are all manner of dismemberments, from clumsy forced sword swallowing to sawing a woman in half without the luxury of the box. The guts look pretty realistic, less rubbery, and Montag uses his victim's bodies like his personal sandbox, sticking his hand in and feeling around like he lost his keys in there.
There are musical keys that range from ominous to oddly upbeat, and they are cut into the scene in an intentionally jarring fashion, where the music will be loud and grating as he's digging into the hapless women on stage, we get a reaction shot from the audience, then cut back to the stage as the music suddenly stops and the women are fine. It's creepy in that 1960s kind of way, where it's the fact that it's so amateurish that makes your skin crawl.
There's also a half-baked investigation as a TV talk-show host and her boyfriend try to figure out just how Montag does it, and whether he's actually killing these girls or not, but of course this is a minor narrative trifle that gets in the way of the real show.
This film continues Lewis' odd choice of making an exploitation film without a few key ingredients of the exploitation genre. There's no sex or nudity, and even swearing is kept to a minimum. It's a conscious choice that Lewis discusses in his interview with The Yap (http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=1154).
Rating: 4 Yaps out of 5