Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Gore Gore Girls’ (1972)

No one has ever confused the movies of Herschel Gordon Lewis with high art, and The Gore Gore Girls is no exception. It’s a low-budget schlock piece, designed for the drive-in, filled with bright red fake blood and bared breasts. Nuance? Subtlety? A grindhouse movie fan craves not these things. All expectations should be lowered, if not hurled right out the window. And yet, there’s something to be respected about The Gore Gore Girls, a lack of discernible attitude and a willingness to throw everything possible at the screen and see what sticks, only to slide slowly down, leaving a trail of goo in its wake.

Strippers at a certain Chicago gentlemens’ club are being brutally murdered by an unknown assailant. A local private eye named Abraham Gentry (Frank Kress), who walks about with a fancy cane and a condescending attitude, teams up with intrepid reporter Nancy Weston (Amy Farrell) to solve the crimes. Killing strippers is a labor-saving plot device for horror movies, because there’s no need to create separate scenes for nudity and bloodshed. It’s clever and cost-effective.

Lewis approaches his material like a carnival barker. Whaddya here for, ladies and gentlemen, what’s your poison? Do you want naked flesh? Then feast your eyes on some of the saddest, dead-eyed, hollow-souled meatbags you’ve ever seen! If you want blood, you’ve got it! How about low-brow humor? Folks, Henny Youngman is here to say things like, “He keeps the mashers away from the broads!” There’s literally something for everyone! Just pay your quarter and come into the tent, right this way!

Let’s talk about the murder scenes, which are as ludicrous as they are disgusting. A woman gets her bare bottom macerated with a wooden meat tenderizer, and then the killer sasons it with salt and pepper. Another woman gets her nipples sliced off with a pair of scissors. One of her breasts shoots out a stream of milk. The other one spurts chocolate milk. It is incredibly childish, and a Freudian minefield, but it certainly makes the violence more difficult to be offended by.

This ridiculous piece of exploitation has never looked better than it does on the Arrow Video Blu-Ray special edition. While there is still some surface artifacting and visible places where the source material has degraded, the overall image is bright and vibrant. The strangely magenta blood pops on-screen as much as the tasseled pasties and ubiquitous blue eye shadow.

The special features are extensive, with H.G. Lewis scholar Stephen Thrower making a convincing case for The Gore Gore Girls being a low-budget American giallo. Filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons discuss the phenomenon of regional filmmaking. But the real gem here is the inclusion of a second H.G. Lewis film.

This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! is a bizarre movie about drunken hillbilly Pentecostals getting drunk and doing terrible things to each other. But don’t get too comfortable thinking this is just a wacky comedy. Women are stoned and crucified, and the preacher (who is also a bootlegger) advocates prima nocta via gang bang during evening services. It’s a real headscratcher, this movie, and its inclusion on this special edition shows the lengths H.G. Lewis would go to not only to entertain his audience, but to make some money.

The Gore Gore Girls isn’t Lewis’ best film, and the term “best” is used subjectively in this context, but fans of strange cinema will find plenty of things to enjoy on this disc. This may be awful filmmaking, but it’s advanced awful filmmaking. There’s some fine quality exploitation on hand here, presented in the best visual quality attainable. Lewis fans should already have this release on their wishlist. All others should go watch some Joe Bob Briggs and circle back to this when they’re ready.

The Gore Gore Girls Special Edition, including This Stuff’ll Kill Ya!, is available from Arrow Video USA.

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