THE GORE GORE GIRLS
|Director||Herschell Gordon Lewis|
|Starring||Frank Kress, Henny Youngman, Amy Farrell|
18 and up. No one under 18 admitted.
Herschell Gordon Lewis was the first filmmaker on earth to show audiences what happens when a tongue is ripped out of a face. So, he's basically a great humanitarian. From BOIN-N-G to THE WIZARD OF GORE, Lewis' filmography is a treasure trove of horror and exploitation history. THE GORE GORE GIRLS is not only the final film from his golden era -- it's also his best. GORE GORE is Lewis’s own private NASHVILLE, a pinnacle of self-aware ingenuity and black humor. But where Altman used a Chaplin to seduce us, Lewis used a vat of steaming French Fry oil. And someone's face.
When the Chicago summer gets you hot, Tops ‘N' Bottoms will get you hotter. Usually. Unfortunately, trouble is afoot at Henny Youngman’s dejected strip club. Strippers are being murdered in perverted ways, police are baffled by the killer’s identity, and a fat guy keeps drawing faces on fruit, then smashing them. What will Youngman do? You got it! He'll hire detective Abraham Gentry, a back-alley Columbo with a fake British accent. Inexplicably refusing the advances of Nancy, his cute/sexy/drunk reporter sidekick, Gentry hits the streets with hundreds of awful puns, a prejudice towards the ladies, and a walking cane. Curious personalities abound. Woman’s lib protesters threaten the integrity of Tops ‘N' Bottoms. Finally, a bartender yells, “I’VE GOTTA TAKE A SHIT!”
But he never does.
Is this movie influential? Sure, but that's not a big deal. Is it misogynistic? Maybe, but only if: 1. You’ve never watched the entire film, and 2. You’ve never seen SOME LIKE IT HOT. Is it awesome? Well, Henny Youngman performs two stand-up routines. And the whole thing ends with Abraham Gentry sitting on a couch for five minutes and talking. But that only happens after a Cadillac runs over a guy's head.
THE GORE GORE GIRLS forged a brave world of bizarro, ultra-gore horror. It’s grimy. It’s disgusting. It’s even a little creepy. But it's never really about the killer bashing away at someone’s ass with a meat tenderizer. It's about the marching band music playing during that act, and the shaking of salt ‘n’ pepper over the mutilated ass. It's about the negative space, and the self-absorbed humor housed within that space -- the content, rather than the form. Though filled with Lewis' expected stamps (room mic ambiance, out of focus scenes, static longshots), the director’s adherence to his own comedic sensibilities eclipses anything else that's thrown at the audience. This movie is a comfort zone for horror freakazoids that's impervious to comparison, criticism, or the ravages of time. Plus, there are W.C. Fields impressions. (Joseph A. Ziemba)