The Wizard of Gore (1970) Movie Review
Written by: ML
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Producers: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writers: Allen Kahn
Date Released: October 23, 1970
Ray Sager as Montag the Magnificent
Judy Cler as Sherry Carson
Wayne Ratay as Jack
Phil Laurenson as Greg
Jim Rau as Steve
Don Alexander as Detective Kramer
John Elliot as Detective Harlan
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
The Wizard of Gore is about a magician who performs tricks and illusions using the audience members for the demonstrations. In these tricks, the volunteers are seen to be harmed during the performance but are returned back to normal unharmed. But minutes later, the volunteers die in a manner that is consistent with the illusion that was just performed. As these horrifying coincidences occur, a couple in the audience begins to find a connection between the magician and these brutal deaths. As the couple unfolds the reasons why the magician’s tricks are making volunteers die, it is up to them to uncover the truth before more volunteers die.
As the title suggests, this movie was gory and brutal. There was a plethora of internal organs being played with and blood splattering everywhere. The most notable scenes occurred in the beginning of the film during the opening credits. Some of these scenes involved a head being severed from a guillotine, a woman being chopped in half with a chainsaw and another woman having her skull cracked and brain taken out together with the eyeballs. These are only some of the grotesque scenes that were in this film. In virtually all of these scenes, there was fountains of blood and organs that splattered everywhere. With all of this in mind, there was no shortage of gore in this film whatsoever and it is clear that is where most of the effort in this production was placed.
The Grave Review
You may guess that the best aspect of this film was the gore and you would be right. Herschell Gordon Lewis, sometimes referred to as the “Godfather of Gore” and known for creating the splatter horror subgenre has directed and produced, The Wizard of Gore, one of his earlier films. With Lewis behind the camera, the film was able to live up to its movie title through the effective use of prosthetics and special effects.
In terms of acting, the main actors were stiff and theatrical. Their movements and facial expressions looked robotic. The dialogues were not delivered naturally which ended up sounding like a slow monologue, just like what the main antagonist, Montag, was doing in the whole duration of the movie. Even the screaming in the film looked and sounded fake. The other very minor characters were overly dramatic. For instance, in one scene, a man sees a dead woman on the bed and reacts in a way that was almost comedic.
To add to the acting problems, the movie was filled with scenes that were way too slow and dragging. For instance, all of the onstage illusion scenes were taking too long to unfold. Between Montag’s monologue and the step-by-step explanation of the trick, one cannot wonder if the audience in the film also fell asleep. Perhaps the slow build up was intended to create suspense and tension in the viewer but unfortunately that was not what ultimately occurred.
The editing and camerawork were also problematic. There were a lot of confusing cuts and transitions, matched with awful background sounds. The camera angles were sometimes out of focus and a bit shaky. Aside from that, there were a lot of scenes that can be deemed unnecessary since they were not explained anyway. For example, there were scenes involving dead bodies being stolen and placed into square hands as well as bloody hand premonitions both of which were unnecessary.
Adding to all the chaos was the ending that was aiming to be mind-blowing but actually ended up confusing. It would seem that the entire movie was just an illusion inside an illusion. Montag’s daydream inside the woman’s daydream. It was a bit disappointing knowing that all the magic tricks never happened.
The prosthetic work and creative gore scenes may make this film appealing to splatter fans. However, there are so many poor qualities about the film that there are no other aspects which would engage the viewer. For those who are not looking for a quality film but rather just some fun blood and guts, this film may be up your alley. For everyone else, The Wizard of Gore may not be for you.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives The Wizard of Gore (1970) one and a half grave out of five graves.
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