Boi-yoi-yoing! I would file this one under the old Extreme-Super-Gore-Mega-Squared category. Remarkable how the most original and vile horror movie I’ve seen all year happens to be a remake. That’s horror movies for you – gotta love’em! Crispin Glover dives head first into the role of deranged infomercial-like Vegas showman Montag the Magnificent in this patchy but undeniably attention-holding retelling of Hershell Gordon Lewis’s cult splatterfest.
Unlike the original, Montag is only given a relatively minor role, a decision I fully support. The thrust of the film follows doomed journalist Edmund Bigelow in a not-so-subtle homage to film noir films of the 40’s. Like all film noirs, the story begins with resigned “How did my life get to this point?” narration. Bigelow is even dressed straight out of the 40’s – glasses, funny hat, suspenders and all. We begin at a sick gothic carnival that holds events like “blood wrestling” (as opposed to mud wrestling), Edmund is handed tickets to see Montag, who if you haven’t heard puts on a show like none you have ever seen. How does Montag possibly follow the maggot and rat eating opening act? I won’t spoil any of the horrific methods he uses to murder his victims onstage but I will say that they are every bit as disturbing as the original only with more convincing special effects. After becoming decidedly deceased, the victim magically reappears onstage unharmed! Hours later however, said victim mysteriously suffers the injuries from the show and becomes dead again – only this time for real. Incidentally a group of Suicide Girls graciously lend their sexy tattooed bodies and talent to the making of this film.
How does Montag do it? Why does he do it? What is wrong with these sick bastards who pay to see people being tortured onstage? Bigelow becomes obsessed with such questions which may or may not ever get answered. This remake brushes upon “instant classic” status but unfortunately fails due to an over-complicated plot and a muddled, disjointed conclusion. Still, I would encourage those with the stomach for such depravity to give the Wiz a shot if for no other reason than to bear witness to Glover’s truly memorable used car salesman with “serious issues” performance.