Film A Week 39: The Spooktacular Seventies- The Wizard of Gore (1970)

There is nothing wrong with this website and nothing wrong with the text you are reading/ You are about to enter a realm that is beyond comprehension, where cinema fell into a decade of horrific sights and images displayed upon you on the silver screen. A decade of demonic possession, pure mutilation, and apocalyptic devastation of the human race. This decade brought on a trend in the world of Hollywood that shocked and beautified the world of the scares. This decade known only as The Spooktacular Seventies.

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Mutilation and torture of the body has been something that has intrigue the sanest of minds and performed by those whose minds have been corrupted by viewing the gruesome images of accidents and events that have ended with bodies dismembered and wrecked. Yet, what if someone took that concept to the extreme and created a show out of it? It certainly worked for Montag the Magnificent, played by Ray Sager, as he hypnotized his audience as he performed his seemingly simple illusion, but behind the hypnosis lied a brutal display. Come one and all and take in Montag’s show in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Wizard of Gore.

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Lewis weaves the story of the twisted disgusting murders behind Montag’s simple magic by incorporating local talk show host Sherry Carson, played by Judy Cler, and her skeptical boyfriend Jack, played by Wayne Ratay, as the plunge into the events head first. After Montag performs illusions, the female assistants that have suffered seem unharmed until they are find dead from the same fates that encountered on stage. For example the punch press murder in the title card above in this clip.

The police cannot explain what the hell is happening with Jack determined that it must be a copycat killer. When Montag performs a trick on two separate woman later int he film, the police follow them, but then prove unsuccessful in their plan as both women promptly turn up dead within seconds after the police leave them. It is not till Montag performs his hypnosis on public television that Jack discovers that the hyponosis was to blame and tosses into the fire Montag creates to kill those hypnotized. Finally, with Montag defeated, everything can return to normal.

Then this happens…

Yes, dear readers, this movie bends the mind and screws into you thinking that all is saved, but everything was merely…an illusion.

Jack turns out to be Montag and leaves Sherry in shock as she also is just an illusionist as well. Between the madness of blood being spilled lies to true madness of illusion. As Montag said, “What is real? How do you know that at this second you aren’t asleep in your beds, dreaming that you are here in this theater?” and that is a true testament to the illusion.

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The Wizard of Gore is really fuckin’ weird. I have seen my fair share of odd cinema and exploitation, yet this one takes the cake. The story makes absolutely no sense with terrible dialogue and confusing moments. The actors are all mid-level and can barely manage a scene and the audio and sound effects are out of sync and sound off. Yet, I could not turn away from this film for a second.

 

The direction by Lewis is quite well for a film like this showing off the gore effects in all its glory and never shying away for a moment as Montag pulls out the remains of the bodies, which for the film where actually sheep carcasses. Lewis managed to make gore look not only frightening, but deliver a gorgeous display of blood and guts missing in splatter films today with CGI taking over. The film is terrible, but a great terrible that has moments that will shock and delight those watching it just for the sheer horror. With that said, The Wizard of Gore does its trick just fine and is quite a thrill to see in this decade of horror. It has gone on to be remade in 2007 with Crispin “George Mcfly” Glover as Montag the Magnificent and got a shoutout in Juno as she praised the gore effects. This is one wizard that intends to stay.

Next weekend, the horror film that shocked the world by taking a look at demonic possession and creating a thriller no one had ever witnessed. It has terrified for generations and has continue to stay in the recesses of mind as Pazuzu takes control. It is haunting , gripping and even terrified the Academy into a Best Picture nomination. Time to take a visit to Reagan’s house and witness The Exorcist.

Film A Week 40: The Spooktacular Seventies- The Exorcist (1973)
Saturday, October 12th

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