Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Rogue / The Wizard Of Gore

As the theatrical market for high-impact horror has dried up—supplanted by bloodless, generic PG-13 offerings like Prom Night—the Weinstein Company's Dimension Extreme label has become an efficient pipeline for titles ranging from barely released art horror like Teeth and Diary Of The Dead to straight-to-DVD trash and treasures, including the queasily effective French thriller Inside. The latest batch of Dimension releases feature some conspicuously big names behind them, which raises the question of why they bypassed theaters in the first place.

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Maybe the capable Jaws knock-off Rogue never made it to American screens because of Primeval, a dismal, not-screened-for-critics flop that probably put the kibosh on 25-foot-killer-crocodile movies. Greg Mclean's follow-up to the unvarnished, viscerally effective torture-porn entry Wolf Creek stays in the Australian outback, but emphasizes beauty over backwater grime. In fact, Rogue would make the tourist board happy, were it not for the tourist-chomping croc that terrorizes a grounded riverboat. Radha Mitchell acquits herself nicely as the tour-boat driver who tries to lead her passengers to safety, but the film could use some of Wolf Creek's raw terror. Mclean's predictable series of chompings and near-chompings aspire to little more than outclassing the likes of Anaconda.

A remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis' 1970 splatter-fest The Wizard Of Gore doesn't sound promising, but if it had to happen, casting serial weirdoes like Crispin Glover, Brad Dourif, and Jeffrey Combs seems like a step in the right direction. Playing "Montag The Magnificent," an underground magician who brutally eviscerates strippers (all played by Suicide Girls models) onstage, Glover makes a five-course meal out of every ornate monologue, but the fun stops there. Much of the film is given over to Kip Pardue's embarrassing turn as an underground journalist who investigates Glover's murderous exploits, all while affecting a junior-league '50s gumshoe persona. Director Jeremy Kasten and writer Zach Chassler needlessly complicate the story by suggesting it might be a figment of Pardue's twisted imagination, but even when they stick to the boobs and blood, the disembowelments grow drearily repetitive. DVD is the perfect place for it: Pull a few scenes for the Glover clip reel, discard the rest.

Key features: Generous bonus features on both discs, including filmmaker commentaries, behind-the-scenes mini-docs, and for the masochistic, outtakes and deleted scenes on Gore.