The Plot: Edmund Bigelow writes for his own magazine, a little ‘zine that focuses on the strange and the unusual. Ed travels through various seedy parts of town trying to find new forms of amusement to entertain his audience with. He finds just the perfect oddity in Montag the Magnificent. Montag has a show nightly in a seedy warehouse where only those privileged enough to have run into his personal geek (as in a man who bites the head off of chickens/rats) and been given a business card. The show is your average magician’s routine, until Montag brings a girl from the audience up on stage. In one instance he lays her behind a curtain of smoke and mirrors, then begins to saw her apart and pull out her intestines. Ed is struck in the audience and begins to leave along with everyone else – however, the lights come on and there the girl is back on stage as if nothing had ever happened. Ed is blown away, as is the audience and everyone leaves with the impression that Montag is simply one of the best illusionists they have ever seen. However, after repeat viewings of the show Ed’s bones are creaking and the girls in the show are all showing up dead in the exact same fashion that they were killed on stage. What is Montag’s secret and how dangerous will this become?

The Review After watching this remake of the original H.G. Lewis cult favorite, I decided to refresh my memory and read my previous review for the original film – which was written probably four years ago. It’s funny how memories change opinions, because I was sure that Wizard of Gore was one of the few Lewis flicks I generally liked – however, my words written when the film was fresh in mind helped remind me what was real and what was imagined (ooh! how apt of a description!). Wizard of Gore kind of epitomized Lewis’ filmic output. A revolving door plot that revisits sets, situations and characters over and over again simply to set up gory sequences of bloody horror – with some less than accomplished acting along the way. However, the films are usually goofy fun and a nice throwback to a previous era and good to check out just for nostalgic reasons, just my opinion mind you. However, the prospect of remaking the man’s films still hurts a little – even if I’m not the biggest Lewis fan. So, normally I would have been pretty apprehensive in approaching a Wizard of Gore remake, however one thing swayed my mind. Two words, four syllables: Crispin Glover. After seeing Crispin Glover in the lead as Montag, well, how could you NOT be interested in such a film?

Who knows exactly what is wrong with Crispin Glover, whether it’s all a comedic act (for further information, youtube search his music) and we’re all just pawns in his game, whether it’s the after effects of a lot of Hollywood partying and drug use or if he really is just that much of a free spirit that he’s above and beyond all logic. Still, the fact is the man signed on to a remake of an H.G. Lewis film and is cavorting alongside a few completely nude Suicide Girls. I was simply intrigued in what could have brought about this man’s interest (despite his being involved in some less than artistic cinematic works as of late ie: Epic Movie), and after seeing the film I’m still not sure what caught his eye. Not to say that this remake isn’t worth his effort or that Crispin isn’t absolutely great in the film – but it hardly seemed strange enough for me to imagine Glover getting completely behind it and yet here he is alongside Brad Dourif (who is probably the most intense actor Hollywood has forgotten) and a completely unrecognizable Jeffrey Combs. Being such a small film, you know it wasn’t simply a big pay day and yet here the film is with what can only be considered a group of cult-icon allstars. Three off-beat cinematic greats collaborating on a very small but very intriguing cult film; sounds good to me!

The rule of thumb for a cult film such as The Wizard of Gore would be that a remake is simply sacrilegious. However, and this is my opinion only, the original was a film that could have really used some work. A gory and disgusting splatter film that simply didn’t have the plot to sustain itself. Jeremy Kasten’s take on the film however retains some of the gore but focuses on a more hallucinogenic story driven horror story. It is a give and take scenario that unfortunately leaves behind the true legacy of H.G. Lewis – a filmmaker who may not have had the strongest approach to storytelling in film, but delivered bloody horror in ways that no one else dared to attempt. This re-telling is a much more cohesive take on the source material, that spices up a lot of the monotony that the original film had. Kip Pardue delivers a very creative performance in the lead role and is a bit of a question mark the entire length of the film. As previously mentioned, the biggest downfall I felt the original film had was its tendency to fall apart into continuous monotony as it would repeat itself over and over again. Kasten’s take on the film simply grows more and more alluring and sordid as we fall deeper into this quagmire of drug induced human wreckage. Fans of Lewis’ work may be disappointed by the film, I can’t deny. The lack of extreme gore in a film with the title “Wizard of Gore” is a let down, but I personally found the story to be much more engaging than the Lewis picture and the mix of retro/modern styles in a collage of beautiful camera work delivered a new and engaging film that surpassed the original. If only in terms of watch-ability.

The Wizard of Gore isn’t going to be a picture that everyone will find themselves getting behind. It does have it’s own personality flaws as a film, and the general quirkiness of the movie will simply fall flat on some I suspect. However, horror fans who are willing to try something new and aren’t afraid of a film that may not show Lewis as much respect as a lot of my fellow horror afficianados would – then I would certainly recommend it to them. I feel awkward rating the film a four out of five, but I can’t deny it, I did enjoy this remake and think that there is an audience for it. Despite the average IMDB rating it currently has. So, if you’re at the videostore and looking for something interesting: pick this one up!

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