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Sunday, September 04, 2011

TEN: Wizard of Gore (1970 vs. 2007 Smackdown)

1. On this side we have H.G. Lewis, whose first film is just a terrible as his last. He never learned a thing. Even his sequel to Blood Feast in 2002 (his first film in 30 years) was stamped with his trademark terribleness. Bad acting, stilted camerawork, choppy editing. It’s all here in Wizard of Gore.

2. In the other corner we have Lawrence Kasden, NO! I meant Jeremy Kasten. I always get these guys confused. Jeremy is the new breed of terrible, who makes slickly shot commercial product, and he does have some good taste as evident by putting Jeffrey Combs in everything, but somehow he sucks the fun right out of his films with this sense of self importance and embarrassing “aren’t I cool” pretentious attitude. His movie Attic Expeditions was so terrible that I actually gave up DTV horror for a while. It was the, “that’s it! I can’t take it anymore!” moment most abused horror fans go through. You feel like an abused spouse, and you are swearing off the whole genre and taking up butterfly catching. Stockholm syndrome eventually sets in and you come crawling back. Kasten’s films drip with condescension, I wonder if he even cares about making these films, or if he is just trying to be popular. It feels like the nerdy kid buying a really rad BMX bike and then hanging out at the dirt track. Sure he has the look and toys, but the guy can’t ride. He’s a mofo poser and as any 13 year old skater will tell you, that is the lowest form of life crawling on the planet.

3. HG Lewis on the other hand never claimed to be anything but in it for a buck, he was a salesman, his producing buddy David Friedman was a onetime carney barker, and he knew he was blowing smoke up your ass, and you knew he was too. Everyone is in on it with HG Lewis. He’s saying that his crappy movie is the Most Disgusting Thing You Will Ever See! And he really isn’t lying. His movies are really gross. But it’s so honest. He never said you are about to see The Greatest Movie Ever. He was going to play these in the drive in for a few months, make some bank, and then they’d be gone forever. Film wasn’t this timeless thing that it is nowadays, where every home movie and blockbuster is captured digitally and photocopied endlessly by the net. These old things were more disposable. It is a traveling freakshow caught on film. There is no elegance or craftsmanship on display. It is just what it says it is. A gore flick.

4. But this lack of craft for me makes it special. Movies now all look like Timex or Lexis commercials. I find that more insulting and offensive then these old films. Last House on the Left was a perfect example. I found the remake more disturbing, not because of the subject matter, but the way it was presented. The original looks like a snuff film you found in some nutcase’s attic. The remake looks like a cereal commercial. It is the establishment, and it disturbs me that the corporate board rooms are producing calculated and slick depictions of rape and torture to appease mall kids. Deviant cinema is now like Coca-Cola and Tylenol, but it used to be subversive. Something you had to sneak in to see, you had to go to the drive in (or mom and pop video store in my case), because no self respecting theater would show this stuff, the studios would never stoop to producing this puerile garbage. There used to be a line between establishment and subversive, and I don’t see that line anymore. The Man has taken it and turned it into a lunchbox. Color me Bitter.

5. WOG’07 fits into this category. If I can say anything good about it, it does look awesome. The art direction is really neat, but it is already looking dated four years later. Kinda like watching Highlander, it was so cool and flashy in ‘86, but now it looks like an 80’s music video. This assertion of style traps your movie forever in the time it was created. Lost Highway is one of my favorite movies, but man all that Rammstein on the soundtrack really throws the thing into the last century. It’s like the movie tight rolled its jeans, and now just looks silly. WOG’07 has tight rolled its jeans. It looks cool now, but give it another five years.

6. I laughed out loud at the audaciousness of the kill scenes in WOG’72. They are perfect examples of “they don’t make em like that anymore”. The editing is so disjointed, the sound track cutting in and out. There is no ambient noise. The shots of the audience did not have a mic on them, so people talk and gasp in silence, we linger on the blood as only HG Lewis does, the whole reason for the movie to exist is the blood, so he makes sure to linger and have an actor’s hands squish through it, taking forever to cut away. If it worked in Blood Feast, why change it. But the best thing in this is Montag the Magician. His performance is so much fun to watch. He is so big, John Waters big, just a big tacky lamp in the room with an orange light bulb. And really this whole thing is like the cinematic equivalent of a Velvet Elvis.

7. WOG’07 is the equivalent of a Ted Bundy action figure that was never taken out of the box and is displayed in a case next to a 500 dollar recreation of the Necronomicon and the owner won’t let your insignificant fingers touch it. It looks like it was made by pricks for pricks. The gore, well, it’s fine. Um, serviceable. They put a layer of smoke over it all, it’s all shock cuts, it’s not very fun. Again, the locations, and lighting and camerawork, all this is great. But the point. I’m just jaded. Good job movie. Slow Clap.

8. How’s Montag in the remake. Isn’t he played by Crispin Glover? How could that be anything but brilliant?!? How could it not be some wonderful spectacle of the bizarre? How? How!!??

Dear Crispin Glover,

You know I’m your boy and will pretty much watch you in anything. I think your performances are brave and funny and you bring a great weird energy to everything. I respect you for doing your own thing. But please stop being in these independent horror films. Simon Says and this proves to me that your heart isn’t in it. Just keep on doing you little cameos in big movies, keep on with your road shows, keep on keeping on brother. But both of these movies look like paychecks. You’re better than this man.

Sam Drog 

PS - Your stuff in Hot Tub Time Machine was brilliant man!

So a formula has formulated in my head because of these two things.

Q: Is Crispen Glover in it?
A: Yes.
Q: Is it an independent horror movie?
A: No.
Conclusion: Oh! It should be great!

It’s a variation of this formula.

Q: Is Ewen McGregor in it?
A: Yes.
Q: Is it Star Wars?
A: No.
Conclusion: Oh! It should be great! (this also works for Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman)

9. Let me tell you who steals the show in Wizard of Gore’07. And it isn’t the Suicide Girls. The Suicide Girls come across like non-entities, like angry 20 year olds lashing out at daddy, it doesn’t help that they are all in a trance in this, making them more mannequin like. Mannequin, now that movie is awesome. I would rather talk about anything but the suicide girls. They’re hot, but once again in a commoditized buy the t-shirt kind of way. And the dad in me just screams out “why didn’t you take this kid out for ice cream now and then you asshole”. SO whatever. Who steals the show here is Joshua John Miller. Who? Ever seen The Exorcist? (what a condescending question, Hi I’m Lawrence Kasden). Well, remember the awesome one who wasn’t Max Von Sydow? Yeah, that guy. That guy who never did anything else you’ve ever seen (besides Legion). ANYWAYS! That guy had a kid!?! And have you ever seen Near Dark? You remember the little tubby kid vampire who was pretty awesome? That guy grew up and he acts circles around everyone in the featured film here, WOG’07. This guy gets it. He actually seems like a person. He actually seems like he believes the lines he’s saying. Glover is odd, but not good in this (except for one scene where he addresses the camera), Combs is great, as a homeless hobo circus geek, a really fun performance, Brad Doriff, a great character and a great performance. But these are cameos (and we can always count on those guys). And just by writing this can you sense my frustration at this flick for having so many great people in it, so great a concept, and then just fumbling the ball because it was so busy trying to be cool that it forgot to make a good movie. But! We are talking about Joshua Miller here. He rocks it. No one else showed up. Art Director showed up. But the actors and director just slept it out. Kip Perdue, who is local boy made good, he’s so terrible. But at least terrible in a funny bad versus boring bad. But when talking good good, Joshua Miller wins the game ball. I want to see him in more stuff, and the scenes with him in it actually feel like movie scenes, and not a photo shoot for Douche Bag Monthly.

10. In conclusion, I’m being too hard on Wizard of Gore ‘07. Enjoyed for what it is, it is better than some of the stuff. NO! Screw that, with all the money and talent they had the movie could have been awesome, instead of minorly painful. WOG’72 however is the real deal. It is in your face shitty, but you will love it for being upfront with you and giving you something that ’07 couldn’t be bothered with ENTERTIANMENT VALUE! Plus it has that funky seventies vibe, and it is all about women’s liberation and the guy having to adapt to the woman being more successful and assertive then he is. Oh yeah…

SHOWSTOPPER!  THE ENDING IS INCREDIBLE! Come one. Remember Halloween 3? Almost that awesome. The ending is fearless. And nuts, and kinda feels like they didn’t know how to end it, so they went crazy and threw stuff at the camera to see what stuck. It feels like there was a gas leak and so they had to wrap it up fast. It reminds me of goofing off with the camera as a teenager and filming something and then having to come up with an ending because the battery was running out. It’s that kind of thing. And I loved it. So check out the original. Leave the sequel to the hipsters who will love it just because it’s too cool for school.

BONUS! The actor who played the original Montag has the distinction of having a long career behind the scenes as a production manager and producer AFTER making this movie. Most people associated with HG Lewis movies never work again.

BONUS BONUS!!! The movie Juno introduced this movie as the preferred flick of choice for board suburban pedophiles.

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