Something Weird Video // 1972 // 84 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // November 15th, 2002
Nothing has ever stripped your nerves as screamingly raw.
When a young stripper is found horribly mutilated, a local yellow journalist hires the incredibly fey Fire Island resident in transit Abraham Gentry, a kind of ambiguously asexual private eye, to solve the case. He purses his lips and hits the clue trail. As Abey Baby travels from one seedy strip club to another, all owned by the human goiter Marzdone Mobilie, he meets several suspects in training, some irate ERA feminists, and liquid-lunching businessmen. He also sees a lot of homosexuality-enhancing hooters. Nancy Weston, ace space case reporter, tags along to prove the age-old adage wrong: not every member of the fourth estate is a college graduate who can hold his or her liquor. Several more droopy drawered dancers are hacked into little smokies by the butchering bad guy, while ulcerous Gentry battles the incompetence of the local camera-shy police and the incontinence of the "can't take a hint" journalist. In a last gasp to lure the killer to the quinine, or as an excuse to mildly entertain the viewers, Mobilie and Gentry have an amateur strip night competition. After momentarily sniffing the bar's cork coasters, a now completely inebriated Nancy takes the stage to shake her shorthand scribbler. Naturally, the killer screams "8th Amendment" and exposes his or her self (not literally).
The Gore-Gore Girls has got to be the most eccentric, bizarre gore film Herschel Gordon Lewis ever conceived or created. Looking at the insane, inspired list of actors, characters, and idiosyncrasies used to pad the storyline with comic confections, one becomes airplane glue goofy with unintentional delight. Would you believe Henny Youngman as a one-liner dropping flesh peddler? A fussy Nero Wolfe wannabe who is an ascot short of being straight? A fruit mashing ex-marine named Grout who pulverizes produce as a peacekeeping pastime? A snorting bartender whose every word is accented with a sniffle? Or a daffy cocktail waitress who keeps Eva Gabor in wig wearing heaven? Together, they combine to make The Gore-Gore Girls Lewis' funniest film. It is also one of his most brutal. In the long line of mutilations and murders Lewis has lensed, these are the bloodiest, most violent and visceral slices of carnage ever depicted. Sure, many of the elements look faked, but Lewis lingers over them lovingly and pushes the maiming to such new disturbing heights that they evolve, becoming eerie and disgusting. Eyes are gouged out of sockets and skewered with carving forks, and then for good measure the empty head holes are probed and pierced repeatedly with the same device. Faces are boiled in hot oil until they melt and brains are splattered on city streets. Like many a typical slasher film, the mystery is merely the skeleton upon which the oozing hunks of human flesh are fitted, accented by Lewis' weird wackiness. In many ways, The Gore-Gore Girls is the precursor to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. There is the same use of irreverent humor, odd camera tricks, gruesome effects, and broad characterization to produce a hilarious, hallucinatory, and horrific cinematic experience.
It's too bad that Lewis dropped out of filmmaking after Girls (unless you count the paltry porn of his 1972 movie Black Love). He then went on to become one of the most highly sought after direct-mail consultants and a respected teacher of advertising copywriting. Still, this movie shows he was heading into another career renaissance, after The Blood Trilogy's success and his varying forays into numerous genre types during the late '60s and early '70s. The Gore-Gore Girls is an irreverent slap in the face of all the copycat filmmakers who thought they could out-massacre the master. Lewis proves once and for all that while some may have done it better, or cheaper, or more realistically, no one did it with more passion or perverse pleasure. You can sense the smile on his broad face as a victim has her nipples clipped, only to have them produce regular and chocolate milk from the wounds. You can hear his devilish laugh as the killer salts and peppers a freshly pounded female rump...roast, filled to the fiendishness with fleshy goodness. Throw in a little nudity (this is a film about a killer who targets strippers, remember), some blatantly bad jokes, some marvelous under- and over-acting by the cast, and you have a truly original, disgusting diversion. Alongside Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs, this is one of the best movies Lewis ever made. It's a shame that, over the years, it was forgotten like a great deal of this madcap genius' works.
Leave it to Something Weird to resurrect Hershell's home movies from hell. They consistently do Lewis DVD releases proud, and this one is no exception. The digitally remastered full-frame image is so new it shines. There are fewer extras here than normal, mostly because, as early pioneers in exploitation DVD, SWV knew the market was untested and financial risks had to be considered. Still, what is offered here is nothing short of spectacular, mainly due to one thing: the commentary. Lewis is one of the masters of the digital audio talkalong. He knows when to tease and always understands when the joke is on him. He offers painstaking detail and occasional internal critique of his subject matter and style. If SWV continues to release his movies with additional commentary tracks, this will be one great living oral memoir of a man who made movies because...well, because frankly, someone paid him to do it. And he really enjoyed it. The archival short included here is a segment from the film Love Goddess of Gore Island, which features a jungle priestess disemboweling a hapless victim. Very tasty. And there is another wonderful gallery of exploitation art that confirms the fact that when it came to pitching product, no one threw the high heat like the independent film distributor.
As the final chapter in the legacy of goremeister Herschel Gordon Lewis (that is, until 2002's Blood Feast 2 is released on DVD), The Gore-Gore Girls is a classic. As an introduction to the man's craft with carnage, you couldn't find a more entertaining starting point.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Audio Commentary
* Archival Short Subject
* Gallery of Exploitation Art