The Wizard of Gore – Celebrating a Gore Class-Sick at 45
10-30-70, Chicago, with fake GP Rating…it was never rated!
10-23-70 marks the 45’th year of The Wizard of Gore’s life in the Sinema world. Opening in Washington DC (Source: The AFI Catlog), HG Lewis’ classic has been one of the most popular of his films in both theatrical plays and Video as well as being an influence on those who wanted to push the envelope in film making when it came to Gore – and it would only be a couple of years before Last House on the Left would make it’s impact on the world. Starring Ray Sagar as a last minute casting choice as Montag the Magician in a performance that would seriously be among the best in any of Lewis’ films, the original version of The Wizard of Gore was a serious shock show that turned into a ground-breaking work that helped pave the way for more extreme films later on.
Unlike his other 70’s Gore epic, The Gore Gore Girls, which floated like a ghost through the years before it’s VHS release slam dunked the film into many homes, this film actually had a good life in the Exploitation scene, sometimes playing with the Gruesome Twosome/Something Weird double bill. Executive Producer Fred M Sandy was of special help in getting it some promotion (he had connections with a branch of AIPs Distribution – the reason why She Devils On Wheels played with a number of the legendary Biker Films including Born Losers and even it’s Horror classic Conqueror Worm) and the shock of the Gore within the audience was still there. Despite the appearance of a few mistakes, the film had a true Dark Carnival style that was a major part of it’s appeal and the Shock Show of Montag can be traced back to Lewis’ short lived movie theater The Blood Shed.
6-30-68 (Waco paper) – I seriously wonder if Lewis planned the film during the wild year of 1967-8 before shelving those plans and just used the name for his theater.
Back to 1970…
The Wizard of Gore is a slightly surreal trip about the work of Montag, a Magician who’s illusions of torture turn into reality after the show. TV reporter Sherry Carson (Judy Cler) investigates the strange chain of murders going on in the area surrounding the shows while the Magician’s victims are disposed of in a special section of the cemetery. Montag’s final act involves hypnotizing the city through TV show, leading to a lot of bleeding hands and the in-studio participants almost being led to a death by fire until Sherry’s boyfriend breaks in and stops the show and pushes the Magician into the fire…but that was not all after a celebration back at the hotel and things turn odd.
Was it Montag’s fantasy…or did Sherry share the magic?
The reality of HG Lewis, on the other “hand” was more steady with his business.
6-15-70 -It’s not very well known outside of Lewis Fandom, but beyond all of the Gore flicks and Nudies, Lewis was a busy Commercial man as well. Here is a photo from one of his more family-friendly productions for a fund raiser. A number of his films played the Chicago area (many hitting the low-priced Monroe theater in the Loop or the Capri) and the Blood Trilogy was a regular play at Drive Ins like the Starlite and 53, but at the time his advertising business was also doing well at the time. At this time, Chicken Unlimited, the fast food business that’s legend in Lewis’ history, was also a client and a part of this movie as well…
Of course, being HG Lewis, once things were wrapped up with this production, it was onto more ads and other film productions…
By the time of the film’s premiere, work was wrapping up on the Moonshine Comedy This Stuff’ll Kill ‘Ya, which will be unleashed in 1971 and play mainly in the Carolinas and Oklahoma as well as other rural areas.
10-30-70, San Antonio – Some of the ads were more graphic and impressive with a fake R usually applied to them.
With 1970 being a time for Mini-Skirts, it was a perfect time for “Panty Shots” like this!
Monroe, LA – 11-25-70
Baytown, TX, 8-8-71
From a Gastonia, NC paper, 6-23-72
Lincoln, Nebraska – 9-8-72 – The Wizard of Gore was the film that deserved the hype applied onto this well-played double bill with the added attraction
5-10-73, Gastonia, NC as the added attraction to this classic Hammer double bill!
8-2-73, Panama City, FLA with the “Love Commune” release of Sign of Aquarius/Ghetto Freaks.
10-5-73, Lewiston – as the added attraction to The Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary show.
4-13-77 – Using the ad art to The Vampire’s Night Orgy/Dracula’s Great Love double bill.
2-19-82, the Midnight show that also hit the Dearborn theater in that year. Originally released by Mayflower Pictures, it was re-released through Shock Films and later found a perfect home with Something Weird Video.
If you have not seen it yet, you should!