Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Gore Gore Girls

I've never exactly considered myself a horror movie historian, but I do like to think I have seen most of the influential or infamous horror flicks from the past thirty years or so.  Earlier than that, though, and my record gets a little spotty.  I have still seen a lot, but there are entire sub-genres (like Italian giallo) that I haven't even touched.  I came across The Gore Gore Girls on the Netflix instant queue, thought it sounded like some cheap and exploitative fare, and decided that it would add some variety to my month of horror.  Well, if absolutely nothing else, it was a success in that regard.

The Gore Gore Girls is, at its heart, a detective story.  Unfortunately, that heart is shriveled and black, so that story is actually just a piss poor excuse for gratuitous nudity and violence.  The private detective, Abraham Gentry (Frank Kress), is a pompous Sherlock Holmes type who spends his free time trying to find clothes that will match his upholstery.
Do you have a better explanation for this?
His obnoxious know-it-all-ism should be enough to annoy most people, but Abraham Gentry is respected by the men he meets and is sexually alluring to the women in this film, despite being rather effeminate.  And, for some reason, he carries his cane in his own home.  Anyway, Gentry is asked by a newspaperwoman to work on the brutal murder of a stripper (whose real name may or may not be "Cream Puff"); he gets paid to take the case and gets a bonus when it is solved.  How do you solve the murder of a stripper?  By going to strip clubs, of course!  What follows are a few scenes where Gentry goes to a club, watches girls strip down to their pasties and gyrate to interesting musical choices (stripping to public domain music looks tough), followed by a few moments where Gentry asks the strippers some questions, followed by scenes where strippers get mutilated.  The end.
Actual screen shot

In all fairness, there is something to be said for a movie that knows exactly what it is.  The story in this movie is paper-thin, but it isn't the area that the filmmakers were focusing on.  This is supposed to be a gory movie, coming from the man who created the first gratuitously violent movies, Herschell Gordon Lewis.  I've seen Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs!, so I was prepared for creative and excessive gore.  The Gore Gore Girls definitely delivered on that expectation.  There are smashed heads, pierced eyeballs, mutilated corpses and more.  Did it look realistic?  Well, I haven't actually witnessed extreme violence first-hand, but I'll assume that it's not too realistic.  For the most part, though, it does look pretty cool and real enough. 
The blood is awfully red and the scene where the murdered "caved in [a victim's] ass" looked like the special effects team simply added some Ragu to a bare butt, but those moments are what makes witnessing the violence in this film enjoyable; those little reminders, as comically amateurish as they are, sort of wink at the audience, acknowledging that this is, indeed, fiction. 

One scene stuck out and made me rather uncomfortable, though.  After the murderer does his/her thing with a stripper (read: murder), the killer slices off the tips of the victim's nipples with scissors.  Mutilation creeps me out in general, but fluid squirts out of the nipples and is collected in champagne glasses by the killer; each breast gave fluid of a different color. 
After a moment, I realized that this was a little joke; the breasts were giving out regular and chocolate milk.  That scene made me a little nauseous, but I get the joke.  I didn't laugh, but I got it.  Side note: were the glasses already out, or did the killer bring them with?  It seems unlikely to be opportunistic humor.  Sorry --- I was thinking too seriously about this flick.

The acting and directing in The Gore Gore Girls is only that in the strictest sense of the definitions.  Herschell Gordon Lewis assembled a crappy cast with questionable talent to fill the minutes between ultra-violent special effects scenes.  The gore was pretty cool and sometimes funny (sometimes not, though).  That was all Lewis did well.  The editing is poor, the script is laughably bad, and the night scenes were clearly filmed during daylight.  Frank Kress played what I can only assume was intended to be an update of the Nick Charles character from the Thin Man movies --- only this one is a shallow, unlikable ass with questionable sexuality.
Above: the least turned-on man at the strip club
The rest of the cast was much worse.  Kress may have been bad, but at least he was playing a character.  The rest were lucky to be stereotypes.  I was surprised at how many strippers were in this movie, and yet there was a shocking lack of attractive women in the cast.  Not that strippers are total babes, but this cast would be the ones working the strip club at 8:30 AM, when the breakfast crowd is coming in.  It is worth noting that Henny Youngman, the guy who coined "Take my wife, please," had a small role in the movie.  It was nothing special, but I did recognize him.  On the whole, I think the cast was pretty bad.  Not that I was expecting much, but this under-delivered.
I'm guessing the cue cards are to the right and left of the camera

It seems silly for me to be complaining about the acting and directing in a movie that so obviously didn't care about either craft, but I can't help it.  This movie sets itself up to be a comedy, taking swipes at the gory films that Lewis inspired with his early works.  It's not funny, though.  Had The Gore Gore Girls played it straight with the same cast, I definitely would have enjoyed it more.  Sure, I might still have been laughing, but it would have been on my terms.  Poorly made comedies drain me because they tell me what I should find funny, and I am constantly disagreeing.
Although this, not referenced by the dialogue, was great

I think I went into this film with the right mindset, but was simply underwhelmed by the movie.  There are better vintage gory movies out there, and better gory movies made by this director. 

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