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Herschell Gordon Lewis. Country-club dilettante, advertising genius, world-renowned author, Renaissance man, social critic, underground celebrity. Oh, and "Deeply disturbed individual".

For his final film, your very own Uncle Herschell decided to give us a film whose offensiveness is taken to such a bone-shaking extreme, that we - as a species - are probably not mentally or emotionally equipped to truly understand it, let alone describe it in a one thousand word film review. I'll give it a bash anyway.

Gore-Gore Girls, The
1972's "The Gore-Gore Girls" was, perhaps not by design, to be Herschell Gordon Lewis's swansong. After a career spanning roughly twelve years, encompassing the creation of the nudie-cutie (Until it was stolen by Russ Meyer), the leather-chicks-on-bikes genre (Until it was stolen by innumerable hacks), and the gore film (Until it was stolen by Hollywood, with Sam Pekinpah leading the pack), Herschell decided to return to his work in advertising full-time. For "The Gore-Gore Girls", the dark forces that stirred within the greying cranium of Herschell dictated that he must make a truly gruelling, brutal, nasty film - something so extreme that it would make even 1970's "The Wizard Of Gore" look like a Muppet film.

"The Gore-Gore Girls" DOES have its roots in a traditional film genre - it is a murder mystery. Someone is killing the strippers at a girlie club. A camp, smarmy, overly confident "detective", and his mindless female sidekick must discover the identity of the killer. That's pretty much it. It's a gore film, what were you expecting? "Chinatown"? The plot is a series of hooks, upon which to hang extended scenes of women being butchered and mutilated in a number of increasingly imaginative
and stomach-churning fashions. As a film, "The Gore-Gore Girls" is a remarkably compact, propulsive piece of work - it is actively aware of what it is, and wastes not even a second of screen time with any kind of character exposition, or narrative development. In the first 20 seconds, a woman's face is smashed repeatedly into a mirror, she is thrown to the floor, and her eye is cut out of her skull with a razorblade. By the ten-minute mark, a nubile stripper has had her throat slashed, and a bubblegum bubble she is blowing fills with blood. By twenty minutes, another stripper has had her face simply cut to pieces with a razor, upon which pieces of it are torn off. By forty minutes, a woman has had her throat cut, her face burned with an electric iron, and - in the film's most bizarre and twisted gore effect - her nipples are cut off with a pair of scissors, which then proceed to alternately bleed chocolate milk, and the white variety. Indeed, Mike Vraney - speaking with Herschell on the audio commentary - is obviously mortified by what he is seeing, and why wouldn't he be? After all, we are plumbing the very lowest depths of misogynistic fantasy. Shouldn't we be offended? Shouldn't we be not only repulsed, but INSULTED by this degenerate display of woman-hating? No, we shouldn't. Hey, don't scream like that at me. You're the one that started this.

Herschell states on the commentary, "This is not for children - it is a pitch-black comedy for people who can appreciate such a thing". And, if you can detach yourself from the queasiness that a film like this produces, you can sort of see where he is coming from. The argument that many commentators on Lewis's films use, is that mutilating women onscreen is one thing, but to mutilate them BECAUSE they are women is another. I reject that criticism, based on a number of factors. We are seeing a director parodying the genre he created. "The Gore-Gore Girls" can quite easily be read as an overblown, tongue-in-cheek parody of a gore film. A "hyper-gore film", if you like. If we read "The Gore-Gore Girls" as presenting a woman's body as a site of disfigurement - or, indeed, as being linked with the abject - as we do in a film such as Fulci's "The New York Ripper", or Deodato's "House On The Edge Of The Park", then I can accept that the film has an uncomfortable - and possibly unacceptable - psychosexual subtext. "The Gore-Gore Girls" is "Blood Feast" as a cartoon. That's not to say that it is for everybody - certainly, it is a gruelling, vicious, unpleasant, deeply upsetting film that many people would not even think of watching, let alone paying $70 for (as I did).

But enough of this fancy-schmancy talk. If you've read this far, you're either turning purple with the need to write me some incredibly nasty email, or you're salivating with the need to procure a copy. Does "The Gore-Gore Girls" deliver the groceries in
the old buckets'o'blood department? Why, certainly. The kroovy FLOWS across the screen, in as much detail as you can eat, stick in a doggy bag, and take home for your pets. Sure, there are plenty of nekkid chicks, but none you'd want to take home to
Mum. Or take home to your home. It is a filthy, vile, depraved, savage little car-wreck of a film - and it's the perfect swansong for the career of your Uncle Herschell - a man who I hold dear to my black little heart. I'd press a silver penny into his palm if he were here. Thanks Herschell - you will be remembered.

Gore-Gore Girls, The
"The Gore-Gore Girls" is, like it's companion piece "The Wizard Of Gore", presented full frame, in 1:33:1 non-anamorphic NTSC. The film seems to have survived slightly better than "The Wizard Of Gore", with the colours looking a little less washed-out than on that disc. Image debris is also kept to a minimum - it seems that Vraney turned up a relatively clean print of the film, bless him.

Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. What can I say? It's an exploitation film from 1970. Do not expect THX optimised, house-rumbling sound. The soundtrack is fine for it's age, though. The commentary track is in Dolby 1.0, with Jimmy Maslin from Shock Films being far more audible this time around, than he was on "The Wizard Of Gore".

"I'm Herschell Gordon Lewis, the director of this... uh... well, this FILM, I guess you'd call it." Herschell, Vraney, and Maslin sit around watching the film, with Herschell telling fascinating stories about it's production, and the problems he had with the ratings board upon it's release. This is one of the more interesting commentary tracks I've heard, in that there are some parts of the film in which Maslin and Vraney sound genuinely disturbed by the carnage onscreen.

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Gallery Of Exploitation Art is just that... stills, posters, promotional materials from underground films that were around at the time.

The 1:20 clip from "Love Goddess Of Blood Island" is interesting. Here's a story for you. My then-girlfriend came over to my house for dinner one night. My parents were making gnocchi. We were sitting in the living room, and she went out to talk to my mother. Being bored with "The Wheel Of Fortune", I thought I'd share something with her - something that could bring us closer together, and let our union grow and mature - our love soaring high above the mighty skyscrapers of Olde Melbourne Town. So, I slipped "The Gore-Gore Girls" in, and called her into the room. Then, I played this 1:20 clip, which is a strange looking woman disembowelling a man who is tied to a bench. She cuts out his entrails, tears them out of his belly, throws them around - all the usual stuff. The object of my affection said "Don't you ever show me anything like that again, especially before dinner, you repugnant pig."

She left me shortly afterwards. Funny that. The clip is in reasonably good condition, and is an amusing view in lieu of a trailer, which I assume either doesn't exist, or is so badly damaged that it is unwatchable.

Gore-Gore Girls, The
What a film. "The Gore-Gore Girls" is a keeper, kids. A fond farewell to a director who myself, and... uh... someone else out there... truly misses. Enough blood, gore, chunks, entrails, and general insanity to satisfy even the most hardened gorehound. Unless you are seriously fanatical about these movies, please - skip over to a review of "Armageddon" or something. You wouldn't understand. Oh, and don't show it to your girlfriend. That's just a hint.

(Oh, and one final note - yes that was THE Henny Youngman in the credits. Herschell roped him into it somehow. Amusingly, Youngman denied ever having appeared in the film until the day he died. Wuss.)