The Gore Gore Girls (1972)
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis

Artistic Value: * ½
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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After a stripper is brutally murdered, Nancy Weston (Amy Farrell), a young newspaper reporter, hires a private detective, Abraham 'Abe' Gentry (Frank Kress), to find out who the killer is. Subsequently, while these two are conducting their investigation, more strippers are killed, each in a more gruesome manner than the last.

I doubt if there are many people who will claim that Herschell Gordon Lewis's The Gore Gore Girls is a good movie. It is not. The cinematography ranges from mediocre to inept. The acting rarely even approaches mediocrity - almost every one of the performers is just inept. The special effects are crude, at best, and the script is laughable on more than one occasion. All of that said, Lewis has actually made a pretty entertaining exploitation film. Its numerous faults rarely take away from its appeal. In fact, they frequently make the movie more entertaining than it would have been had it been more competently produced.


The Gore Gore Girls' narrative presents the viewer with a mystery, and most of the film revolves around Abe's investigation of the murders of various strippers. Nonetheless, this story is no more important to the movie than its more exploitative elements are. Much of the narrative, in fact, does little more than provide excuses for the inclusion of scenes depicting either brutal killings or the gyrations of almost nude strippers. Violence and naked women play a very large role here. Admittedly, the violence is sickening (and somewhat poorly done), and the naked women are not always especially attractive, but the inclusion of such things does give the movie a delightful sleaziness.


Actually, the savagery the director has included is pretty memorable. From its very first scene, in which the killer repeatedly smashes a woman's face into a mirror, The Gore Gore Girls is gratuitously violent. Every one of the murders depicted seems to be more gruesome than the last. In one, the killer slits a woman's throat and, while she is dying, beats her buttocks with a meat tenderizing mallet, until only a bloody mess remains, which the fiend then sprinkles with salt and pepper. It does not end there. The killer goes on to gouge out the dead woman's eyes with a fork and to squash them with a gloved hand. While it might not seem possible that Lewis could come up with a scene more vile than this, he does. The next murder involves the application of a heated iron to a woman's face, followed by the use of a pair of scissors to snip off the tips of her nipples (from one of which white milk then flows and from the other of which chocolate milk). Even after this, Lewis still manages to top himself. The next murder is much simpler, but it is utterly horrifying. The killer holds a woman's face in a bowl of boiling oil (being used to cook French fries) until she expires. There are more killings in addition to these, but I will leave them undescribed. Suffice it to say, The Gore Gore Girls is brutal. Admittedly, the special effects used in these violent sequences are of low quality, something some viewers might not care for, but they still utterly disgusting. What is more, their cheapness adds to the movie's campiness, and so helps to make it more amusing.


As grotesque as much of The Gore Gore Girls is, it is not particularly grim. To some degree, this is a result of a few comic touches Lewis has included. There are, for instance, a number of scenes in which Henny Youngman appears as Marzdone Mobilie, the garrulous, wise cracking owner of a chain of strip clubs. Most of the film's humor is, however, a result of the ineptitude of the actors, the director, the screenwriter, or all of these.


I cannot begin to express how bad some of the performances are. Kress, in particular, is awful. He romps his way through the movie while showing off wildly affected mannerisms, demonstrating an exaggerated pomposity, dressing in several colorful, tacky outfits, and exuberantly wielding a cane. He is always entertaining. Unfortunately, not one of the other actors gives a performance like that Kress does. Most of them are inept, but most are just wooden. Once again, I must emphasize that I am not saying that Kress takes away from the film's appeal. He does not. His cartoonish pantomime is hilarious.


Happily, the script the man and his fellow thespians were given provides them with numerous absurd incidents that help to display their own lack of talent. On more than one occasion, Abe manipulates some person he encounters, but he always does so in the most crude and obvious way. In one sequence, for instance, he repeatedly praises the beauty of a stripper so that Nancy will become jealous and perform a striptease herself. At another point, he convinces a police officer that the killer is probably a religious fanatic, even though there is no evidence to support this. Then he gets the same man to believe that it was he, the policeman, who came up with the idea. Later, when evidence refuting Abe's claim is produced, he provides a ludicrous explanation to the officer and, once again, gets him to believe it. All of these sequences are just so obvious that they are painful, but they are so painful that they are also quite funny.


The Gore Gore Girls is a bad movie, but it is not a boring movie. In fact, it is pretty fun to watch, sickening, but fun.

Review by Keith Allen

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