The Wizard of Gore (2007) poster

The Wizard of Gore (2007)


USA. 2007.


Director – Jeremy Kasten, Screenplay – Zach Chassler, Based on the 1970 Film Written by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Producers – Christopher Duddy, Glenn W. Garland, Daniel Gold, Dan Griffiths & Jeremy Kasten, Photography – Christopher Duddy, Music – Steve Porcaro, Visual Effects Supervisor – Michael Shelton, Special Effects Supervisor – Jor Van Kline, Makeup Effects Designed by Keith Christensen, Jason Collins & Elvis Jones, Production Design – John Pollard. Production Company – Open Sky Entertainment/Sick-o-Scope Motion Pictures.


Kip Pardue (Edmund Bigelow), Crispin Glover (Montag the Magnificent), Bijou Phillips (Maggie), Brad Dourif (Dr Chong), Joshua Miller (Jinky), Jeffrey Combs (The Geek), Flux Suicide (Dell), Amina Munster (Cecelia), Cricket DeManuel (Cayenne), Nixon Suicide (Rexina)


The journalist Edmund Bigelow becomes fascinated with the stage magician Montag the Magnificent. Montag has an act where he calls a woman up from the audience, places her under his hypnotic control and makes her take off her clothes. He then eviscerates and kills her in a gore-drenched way, before this is revealed to be an illusion and that nothing happened. Edmund make repeat visits to Montag’s show along with his girlfriend Maggie in an effort in an effort to determine how Montag pulls the trick off. Edmund believes that Montag might be spraying the audience with the drug Tetrodetosone that makes those who ingest it believe whatever he tells them. On the other hand, as he investigates, Edmund also finds that the people who are brought up on stage are dying subsequently in the same way they did in the stage performances.

The original The Wizard of Gore (1970) was one of the key films from director Herschell Gordon Lewis. Ever since making the first Splatter Film with Blood Feast (1963), Lewis maintained a career making a series of very cheap, badly made film whose sole virtue was extremely gory effects scenes. Others of these included the likes of Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Color Me Blood Red (1965), A Taste of Blood (1967), The Gruesome Twosome (1967) and The Gore Gore Girls (1972).

Into the 1980s, Lewis became a cult figure. The early 2000s brought two biographies of Lewis, while Frank Henenlotter made the documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010). Lewis returned to the director’s chair at the age of 76 to make a sequel to his first film with Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002) and then an original film The Uh-Oh Show (2009), as well as oversaw/directed one of the chapters of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Mania (2017), before his death in 2016. There were remakes of a couple of Lewis films with 2001 Maniacs (2001), which spawned a sequel 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams (2010), and subsequent to this a remake of Blood Feast (2016).

The remake comes from Jeremy Kasten who had previously made the horror films The Attic Expeditions (2001), All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos (2005), The Thirst (2006) and subsequently The Dead Ones (2019), plus the tv documentaries I’ll Haunt You When I’m Dead (2013) and My Haunted Vacation (2013), as well as the wraparound scenes for the horror anthology The Theatre Bizarre (2011). In between this, Kasten has a day job as an editor, while he has also produced Suicide Girls Must Die! (2013).

Crispin Glover as Montag the Magnificent prepares to eviscerate a Suicide Girl in The Wizard of Gore (2007)
Crispin Glover as Montag the Magnificent prepares to eviscerate a Suicide Girl

This is a remake of The Wizard of Gore that comes into a very different era than the original. It has a semi-reasonable budget – enough to afford several recognisable names in the cast (Crispin Glover, Bijou Phillips, Brad Dourif, Jeffrey Combs). This is a version that is definitely playing for the alt crowd – with the casting of cult actor Crispin Glover as Montag and several Suicide Girls playing the victims.

Montag’s stage show is surrounded like a good deal of theatric shock effects – an unrecognisable Jeffrey Combs as a worm-eating geek, assorted scenes at the sideshow with orgiasts. Crispin Glover gives a very over-the-top performance as Montag, although it would very hard for anybody to come anywhere near the bizarreness of Ray Sager’s performance in the original.

As in the original, Montag gets to deliver his various stage performances in which he eviscerates women. However, in this case, all of Lewis’s physical splatter effects have been replaced by digital gore. Moreover, most of the scenes take place behind a screen where what is happening is partly occluded by a semi-transparent film of mist. By contrast, the cult appeal of Lewis’s films is their very gungy DIY ethic where the production of nasty, over-the-top scenes of gore and sadism was the sole effect that drove the films. In polishing that up and making the gore obvious CGI trickery, the visceral effect of a Herschell Gordon Lewis is completely missing. It looks like fakery, this is no vomitous squirm factor in sitting watching everything happening in great detail.

The other key fascination of the Lewis film was the element of Reality and Illusion where Montag played with his audiences and, in an extraordinary piece of Meta-Fiction, with the viewer as well. The remake keeps that but is now become more of a muddled piece where Kip Pardue is trying to figure out what he saw happen and is not even clear if various elements of his life are illusion as well or whether he may be killing the girls afterwards himself. It lacks the cleanness of Lewis’s effect, not to mention an explanation where drugs are used to make the audience extremely suggestible considerably waters down the sheer weirdness of the original’s effect.

Trailer here

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