The perfect woman. Some assembly required.
Dr. Don Brandon and his evil, shock of red headed hunchbacked manservant…Greg (?) are out to create a little feminine affection for the hard-up MD. Seems the physician's first wife took a dirt nap without consulting her local loving medical professional and now the insane surgeon has resorted to grave robbing and body part reanimation to jostle his jollies. His first experiment, Reynolds wrapping his spouse's corpse and lightly grilling it, doesn't work, so he kidnaps young women and vivisects the good parts to hopefully build the perfect breast vehicle. Several gruesome autopsies later, our queer quack makes Anitra, a jigsaw jiggle fest who learns the most important lesson a woman can ever understand: that men are made for loving…even men like Dr. Brandon with horrendous comb-overs and facial warts. But you can't keep the reanimated body parts of several dead victims down on the castle after they've slept with the furnace repair man, so it's a lifetime of highway hitchhiking hand jobs for our spare part paramour and an eternal reservation at the loony bin for the lovable Doctor Gore.
Doctor Gore is the kind of movie that, once it's over, will have you chapter surfing for another look at the unintentionally hilarious and gorgeously campy set piece sequences. Take, for example, the dead wife barbeque. Dr. Brandon and the carrot headed Greg (how creepy is THAT name?) meticulously wrap a body in aluminum foil (probably to "seal in the freshness") hoping that by placing some electrodes on strategic erogenous zones and zapping the zoom-zoom out of her he can bake and awake his dead dearest. Or how about the nightclub sequence at the Drawbridge Steakhouse (featuring meat or seafood). Here we witness, in all his Burl Ives meets Dan Haggerty spectacle, the singing side of beef known as Bill Hicks. Aside from his fur trapper as Fauk monster demeanor, our dapper dirigible sings simply one of the most memorable songs to come out of a Something Weird DVD…EVER! (And that's including "You Can't Fart Around with Love"). The tragic, turgid "A Heart Dies Every Minute" is the kind of morose manic sing-along that will have you whistling while you work and wailing while you whittle. It is just one of the many highlights to this horror film as corns-a-poppin' extravaganza. Director/producer/star/effects guru J. G "Pat" Patterson has taken his mentor Herschell Gordon Lewis one sick step beyond in his desire to incorporate everything but a second take into his film. You will witness scenes of unbridled gore and gruesomeness. You will watch the comic capering of the sinister scoliosis sidekick Greg as he mutters in an old Jewish man meets South Park's Kenny mumble. There is even a clapboard, reverse camera footage, and multi-layered montages to solidify the shamelessness. Doctor Gore is a classic, a film that will gleefully delight as it gravely disturbs. And let's not forget that song (not that you ever could—one listen and it's locked forever into your lobes like involuntary motor skills).
For added DVD wonder, Something Weird gives us the polar opposite, but equally irreverent cinematic experience of Lewis' own girl grafting masterwork How to Make a Doll. Where Doctor Gore has buckets of blood, Doll has Seymour Krelboyne's mother after she retired and moved to Florida. Where Patterson moves the camera like a hyperactive sugar glider in and around the action, Lewis, of the old point-and-shoot school of on-the-cheap filmmaking, simply lets the lens stay static, the better to capture the pseudo comic capering in all its uninterrupted take glory. And where Patterson litters the scenery with as much realistic scientific machinery as possible, Lewis just slaps some cardboard boxes and carport roofing onto old Christmas lights and adds an old IBM punch card Teletype counsel. Before you can say "difference engine," you've got a wisecracking computer voiced with dry, drool aplomb by the Godfather of Gore himself. How to Make a Doll shows that when it comes to lowbrow comedy, Herschell Gordon Lewis is one hell of a horror director. This tale of an inexperienced college professor shmoe who can't attract the opposite sex without having a reconfigured super computer create dates for him is the odd great grandfather of John Hughes' Weird Science, and twice as compelling. Lewis' cast of comely lasses are certainly fetching and his main star slapstickers wonderfully inept. As with his nudist films and gore classics, Lewis may not know perfect framing or composition, but he does knows entertainment and How to Make a Doll is wacky, wild fun.
While not listed as a proper twin title, this package from Something Weird is nonetheless a great double bill. Both films play off and into each other in a strange, sly case of cinematic synchronicity. And just to spice things up, SWV adds a treasure trove of extras. First, we get a commentary/interview track featuring Jeffrey C. Hogue, distributor of Doctor Gore. While barely mentioning the movie, film historian Cynthia Starr-Soroka still gets fascinating details into Mr. Hogue's career in film distribution and his current ownership of the Charles Atlas company! Next, we have the always intriguing SWV trailer collection. It will whet your exploitation appetite for titles like Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde and Professor Lust. The first short is a 1930s serial about the sexual misadventures of a limey bon vivant named Tom Terriss, who is on the quest for the ultimate female. This episode finds him face to fang with the topless Vampire of Marrakesh! Second is a VD scare spot that shifts tone and film stock and color all in an attempt to prove how wanton lovin' will leave you sore, in more than one way. Along with the ghoulish comic cover art gallery, this is a fantastic DVD. The only real complaint to be had is that both Doctor Gore and How to Make a Doll are open matte, full screen presentations with some age defects. That's it. We do get the alternative title sequence to Doctor Gore (originally released as The Body Shop) that features Herschell himself pontificating on Patterson's special gifts, and along with the films and the additions, it makes this a must-own DVD title. Bloodhounds will lap it up, while lovers of the tragically ludicrous will be in total tacky heaven. But just remember this: a heart dies every minute from the pain and sorrow in it. And the one that just passed on belongs to me! (Damn you Bill Hicks!!!)
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
• Commentary by Jeffrey C. Hogue of Majestic International Pictures and Film Historian Cynthia Starr-Soroka
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