Okay, I know I was just talking about the ‘any port in a storm’ predicament of the modern horror movie lover but the other night I saw the best horror movie I have seen in YEARS folks. And I am here to spread the word to anyone that might not have seen it.
THE WIZARD OF GORE.
Yeah, it’s been out for a while*. I know I bitched here somewhere before about how I had been thus far unable to see it because I couldn’t rent it anywhere (turns out from some people I know who frequent blockbuster found out that regardless of the fact that it’s a Weinstein Exclusive to that chain, a lot of their stores don’t stock it anyway so apparently I’m not alone here with my Hollywood card) but my wife, darling enabler that she is, surprised me with an early birthday treat and ordered it.
I’m glad she did, because a rental would have been a waste of $6 when I ran right out afterwards and bought it.
So it’s been out for a while and I’m sure a bunch of folks here are going to be like, ‘Yeah, time warp anyone? That is so three months ago!’ but for those like myself that are sometimes slow on the uptake take it from me – DO NOT RENT THIS MOVIE, JUST GO BUY IT.
It’s that good.
I grade horror movies these days based on experiences I had over the years. I have two very good friends in Chicago who have extensive, no, that’s the wrong word, ridiculous, no that’s also not quite right either… hmmm <puts hand to chin> insane? Well, that’s close so yes, insane horror movie collections. We’re talking about thousands of movies here folks. The one openly refers to it as ‘a sickness’. So these guys are where I got my ‘ear to the ground’ technique for new classics and it’s been a fucking while since I’ve found one. There are ‘I liked it’s’ and ‘I loved it’s’ but then there is also, ‘Are the stores still open? ‘Cuz I need to go buy this and re-watch it NOW!!!
Back in the day one of them facilitated my introduction to the EVIL DEAD’s and DEAD ALIVE* and quite a bit later than a lot of folks I knew. But then for a while horror seemed a bit stagnant. Then my other friend showed me the two that would set the bar: Neil Marshall’s perfect DOG SOLDIERS & Mike Mendez’ brilliant THE CONVENT. There have been a lot of flicks I’ve liked or loved since, but nothing that has left me as happy and amazed as these two**.
For those of you who have seen Wizard you might be saying, ‘Sure, what’s not to love about Crispin Glover in a white tuxedo and massive cod piece, mutilating naked chicks on stage’. To that I would say, well, ah, I don’t know what I would say, but I’d probably find a way to exit stage left.
Seriously, the thing about WOG that really seals the deal for me is the constant, articulate and unrelenting attention to atmosphere and tone that keeps the viewer in the modern day, yet so far submerged in alternative lifestyle cultures that it seems almost otherworldly. It will remind many of you about that one weird club or that strange guy’s party you were at once that didn’t quite sit right with you, but multiplied to the Nth degree. The set design is FANTASTIC and the theatre where Glover, as the wizard, performs his atrocities is so lavish with creepy mood and menace that it just holds you in the world they’ve set up. And then there’s Brad Dourif and Jeffrey Combs… but I’m saying too much as it is.
And then there are the atrocities. Wow. Watch for one in particular that involves stuffing a towel-wrapped broomstick down someone’s throat. Disgusting and inventive, cuz you know, sometimes it’s just nice to get away from the same old hack n slash.
Finally, when the movie was over I did not understand exactly how it all had played out or if it made sense. However this was not, I feel, because of convolution. No, this actually left me with a bit of a David Lynch feeling to it, and in my book, it doesn’t get any better than that.
And naked tattooed chicks. Like Koo Koo Roo, something on the menu for everybody, eh?
* And I know it is a remake, the original of which I have never seen. When I find it I’ll rent it and then we’ll weigh the difference, but I cannot imagine it would be better than this, just starting with the fact that it most likely does not have either Brad Dourif or Crispin Glover in it.
** I know Convent is cheesy, it’s supposed to be and it’s fucking brilliant dammnit!!!
*** I had never had the relentless horror bent I have now until these two guys came into my life. I mean, I loved me some John Carpenter since I was a wee lad watching edits on WGN, but I guess growing up in the 80’s horror was stigmatized by hulking blobs of shit like the Friday the 13th series, Nightmare on Elmo’s Street and Chucky, none of which are bad, but all of which grew as franchises until they were really nothing more than teenage mall movies – quick box office cash write-offs that had plenty of bad gore and iconic, recognizable characters, but no serious fucking horror.