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DOCTOR GORE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  J. G. Patterson, Jr., Jenny Driggers, Roy Mehaffey
Director:  J. G. Patterson, Jr.
Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Image Entertainment/Something Weird Video
Features:  See Review
Length:  83 Minutes
Release Date:  October 1, 2002

“You are truly beautiful, Ellen.  Perfection.  Especially your hands…”

Film *** (on the cheese scale)

What can you say about a picture called Dr. Gore?  A few simple thoughts, really, starting with the fact that this is one of the most entertainingly atrociously bad horror films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.  The acting is horrible, the editing amateurish, the effects gleefully gory and over the top.  In short, it's a howling good time for fans of the genre.

Written, directed by and starring J. G. Patterson, Jr. (his acting and character name for the film are both Don Brandon), this movie is an exercise in exploitation, a buffet of the befoul, and a trek through tastelessness.  Borrowing heavily from Frankenstein, it tells the tale of a once prominent plastic surgeon gone made after the death of his wife, who decides to create the perfect woman out of miscellaneous parts (hence the film's other working title, The Body Shop).

In a cheaply constructed lab, and with an honest-to-goodness grunting hunchback for an assistant, Dr. Brandon begins his misguided quest.  He meets women, charms them, kills them, then mutilates them, saving the pieces he deems best for his “creation”.

Interestingly enough, there are no real antagonists in the film, save for the obligatory cop who shows up halfway through asking if anybody's seen anything strange.  The picture plods along without a plot; we just watch Dr. Gore do his thing.

But the cheese factor is very high, starting with Patterson's performance, which is both understated and hammy at the same time, if such a combination is possible.  The script produces gems of quotable bad dialogue, too.  Some samples:

“Put on your coat, or people will see you're a hunchback.”

“He's as nutty as a squirrel turd.”

(Knocking at the door).  “Go see what that is.  It might be the door.”

There's also a moment where the picture comes to a complete standstill while a country band plays an unbelievably sappy song…hysterical!  But even that doesn't come close to a shot near the end where…get this…the filmmakers FORGET to edit out the clapboard at the beginning!  HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU FORGET THAT??

The picture does earn its gore title, but those scenes are rather infrequent, and, as you might expect, too cheesily handled to be really affecting.  You'll chuckle more than you'll squirm.

I do have to say, however, that the doc does good work.  His final product, as realized by Jenny Driggers, is quite a vision of loveliness.  You know, once the scars and stuff have healed.  Ah, but true love isn't in the air for the good doctor, who reaps the just rewards of his labor at the end.

What a mess…but what a scream!  On the basest level, for those who have an affinity for low budget horror (as I do), Dr. Gore entertains.  Not in spite of its flaws, but because of them.

Video **

I don't see Dr. Gore getting a red-carpet restoration any time soon, so this DVD offering may be as good as it gets for this 30ish year old film.  Most of the problems are print related…a bit of grain here, some debris there, and some inconsistencies in color are noticeable, but given the level of the film itself, not worth complaining too much about.  Suffice to say, it looks a little better than previous videotape releases, and that's about as much as fans could realistically hope for.

Audio **

Likewise, the mono soundtrack serves but doesn't impress.  Age is apparent with a little noise from time to time, and the presentation is very one-level throughout, with music cues and effects not adding much to the dynamic range.  Dialogue is decently presented, though admittedly not that important.  I would like to say that whoever had the idea to use a clip of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” as part of the electronic score was a genius.  A sick, twisted genius, but a genius nonetheless.  ;-)

Features ****

The extras package is most impressive, starting with a bonus feature length film…How to Make a Doll is a comic, sexy offering from legendary producer Herschell Gordon Lewis; similar in theme, but less messy.  Dr. Gore features a running commentary, interview style, with historian Cynthia Starr-Soroka and Jeffrey C. Hogue of Majestic International Pictures…an easy going and entertaining listen.  There is also an alternate title sequence featuring an appearance by Lewis, a ton of trailers for other gory films of the period, two short films, a musical gallery of comic cover art, and an Easter egg, featuring Patterson's teaser for the film!

Summary:

Dr. Gore is aimed at a very select audience, but it's the kind of audience that have kept this kind of low budget, poor taste, cheesy fun exploitation genre around for decades.  With a terrific package of features aimed at the true horror fan, this is a worthwhile disc.  Just pray your date doesn't get any ideas while watching it…