The Wizard of Gore (2007) DVD Review
Written by ZigZag
DVD released by Dimension Extreme
Directed by Jeremy Kasten
Written by Zach Chassler
2007, Region 1, 94 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on August 19th, 2008
Crispin Glover as Montag the Magnificent
Kip Pardue as Edmund Bigelow
Bijou Phillips as Maggie
Jeffrey Combs as The Geek
Brad Dourif as Dr. Chong
Joshua Miller as Jinky
The Wizard of Gore is a remake of the underground classic film by Herschell Gordon Lewis. The new film takes the original and opens it up to be more of a noir detective piece. Kip Pardue (Thirteen, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things) plays Edmund Bigelow, a writer who is stuck in the old world style of the early 1960s. His clothes and apartment are dated (complete with a rotary dial telephone), yet he is also part of the 21st century new bohemian lifestyle (the tattooed and pierced) that surrounds him.
There's a new magic show in town and Edmund takes his girlfriend Maggie, played by Bijou Phillips (Bully, Hostel II) to see the show. The opening act is a geek show with an unrecognizable Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners, The Black Cat) eating maggots and rats. The act is quickly followed by the usually stellar Crispin Glover (What Is It?, River's Edge) as Montag the Magnificent, who performs a series of spectacular illusions (with the aid of The Suicide Girls) that appear to result in the grisly deaths of his assistants. Each show ends, however, with the girls reappearing unharmed (and nude). Glover (wearing a magnificent codpiece that merits a fair amount of commentary discussion) is traditionally weird and hungry for scenery to chew, but here he seems to be "phoning it in" at times to pay for more personal projects.
When the girls start showing up dead in the manner they "died" on stage Edmund enlists the help of his coroner friend Jinky, to help him solve the mystery. Joshua Miller (Near Dark, River's Edge) returns to acting with fantastic presence as Jinky, and genre fave Brad Dourif (Exorcist 3, TV's "Deadwood") rounds out the cast as Dr. Chong, an alternative medicine healer.
Zach Chassler's script moves at a steady pace, a welcome improvement to the plodding of the original film. Gone are the long rambling monologues and monotonous delivery from the1970 version. Sadly though, the overall story becomes weighed down in the third act by the constant reversals of reality and the script falters under the weight of exposition at the end. As is the case with director Jeremy Kasten's The Attic Expeditions, it falls on Jeffrey Combs to read the exposition during the finale (this time in a thick Arkansas accent).
While every effort has been made to keep the audience on their toes, the film ultimately suffers from style over substance. Kasten directs a circus like atmosphere filled with the strange and unusual, where colors pop off the screen and the murderous set pieces are gleefully over the top. It looks fantastic and every dollar of the budget makes its way to the screen.
The film is imperfect, but far more enjoyable than the original. The nudity/gore ratio has been nicely adjusted to contemporary standards and much of the dialogue is quotable. Unfortunately, some of the blood is digitally enhanced, which is mildly distracting. There are several nice sequences that work and these outweigh the problems in the end. The Wizard of Gore is a fun ride that will surely please those with a love for the red stuff.
Video and Audio:
The film is presented in a solid 1:85 anamorphic widescreen format. Colors are rich and do not bleed; black levels are solid and there is minimal noise or grain.
A nice 5.1 audio mix keeps dialogue clear, and the music and effects tracks are effectively spaced.
Dimension Extreme has released another disc with a fantastic presentation. The DVD comes fully equipped with supplemental material. First up is an engaging commentary track with the filmmakers (who are watching the unrated edit for the first time.) Other extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a look at the makeup effects and a piece on The Suicide Girls. Deleted scenes and a set of storyboards round out the disc.
While the film is not a grand slam, it is a solid effort and worth checking out. The cast alone is worth the admission: Combs, Dourif, Glover!!? A genre geek's dream (assuming that the unrated version is playing). For more information check out the official website.