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Doctor Gore (1973)
J.G. "Pat" Patterson, Jr., sometimes magician and friend of cult cinema legends H. G. Lewis and William Girdler, put together a little gore film in the early 1970s -- a take on the Frankenstein legend, but with prettier girls and bloodier parts. He assumed six different roles in the production -- director, producer, writer, actor, makeup, and special effects. Never before has one man given so much of himself to produce so little...
Dr. Brandon (Patterson, under his pseudonym of Don Brandon, America's No. 1 Magician) mourns the death of his wife, but then reminds himself that he's a mad scientist and he can just resurrect her. Whether he's actually using her body to do it is unclear, but he does try to bring some female to life using his patented Jiffy Pop Method of securing the body under tin foil with duct tape and then switching on the electrical whirligigs. He leaves the microwaves on too long, though, and the body just burns. Oh, well. Hunchbacked assistant Gregory (Roy Mehaffey) just drops the failure in the requisite vat of acid. Brandon begins anew, taking the best parts from different, fresher specimens. Oh boy...
There needs to be a word stronger than incompetent, because sextuple-threat Patterson is just that -- a threat. Rarely does Doctor Gore (originally titled The Body Shop) make any sort of coherent narrative sense. Why are deliverymen bringing in a trunk with a dead girl in it? Who shipped it originally? Where does Brandon get his wide-eyed hypno-powers? Why does he even have a laboratory expressly designed for reviving the dead? Why does he have to convince Gregory to help him with his experiments after the poor guy's already been doing it for twenty minutes?
These concerns don't even begin to cover the ineptitude of the direction. Frankly, I'm surprised that Patterson managed an entire 75 minutes out of the film. Even with the padded scenes (some that deliver about 15 seconds worth of information can stretch five minutes), it's obvious the man didn't know how to get good coverage. There's numerous instances where footage is repeated or outtakes are used to extend the scene (there's a memorable instance of the clapboard being withdrawn hastily from the shot). Patterson constantly smokes throughout the film, but he can't seem to maintain continuity on a single one of those cancer sticks. They just leap in and out of his mouth like bad magic.
His performance plods with stilted monologues (most of them extremely misogynistic), and he delivers dialogue both ridiculous and acceptable with zero conviction. I'd hate to see this guy's stage show; I'm sure he opens with his amazing sleeping audience trick. Not only that, but the script calls for him to attract young, nubile women with his charms. While I commend Patterson for cleverly writing himself into a number of make-out scenes, he can't sell it. No amount of hypnotic suggestion in the world could make that comb-over sexy.
All that aside, I wouldn't mind seeing a movie from a better director that featured gore effects by Patterson. Utilizing his know-how as a stage magician, he constructs some fairly shocking limb removal scenes without using mannequins as torso stand-ins. It's fairly impressive work most of the time (although there are exceptions to this).
William Girdler, one of the few people with a major production role who isn't J.G. Patterson, handles the music. Perhaps he should have stuck to directing movies like Three on a Meathook. Perhaps not. In any case, Girdler's signature song for the film is a bizarre brain-melter about little girls, what they're made of, and what they do when they get older -- all set to a warped version of "My Favorite Things." Patterson uses this song again and again in the movie, until you want to dig your eardrum out with a fork. If that's not bad enough, there's a country music song called "A Heart Dies Every Minute," that's played nearly as often and only pains the mind slightly less.
Doctor Gore is available on DVD from Something Weird video. As with most SW releases, this one bursts with goodies. Jeffrey Hogue of releasing company Majestic International provides a commentary that has little to do with the film itself, and more to do with his career as an exploitation distributor. It's still interesting as heck. H. G. Lewis introduces the film in an alternate title sequence, noting with all honesty that you probably won't like the film. If you're still interested in woman-creation after Doctor Gore (and godspeed if you are), then check out the second feature, How to Make a Doll, a surprisingly unsexy sex romp from Lewis himself. There's also two short subjects and more mad scientist related trailers than a person can stand.
J.G. Patterson's ineptum opus Doctor Gore proves that too many production roles can ruin the soup just as much as too many cooks. Rarely has their been a film this bad that is also completely unaffecting. Not enjoyable and only mildly offensive, it exists only to be mocked. I'd much rather be watching Blood Freak, thanks.