Directed by J.G. Patterson/Herschell Gordon Lewis
Something Weird DVD
Have you ever asked yourself, “Wow, I wonder if it’s possible to create the perfect woman all by myself?” No? Me either. But this double feature presents two men who did. Meet Dr. Don Brandon (“Doctor Gore” to his friends) and Professor Percy Corly. And prepare for perfection.
J.G. “Pat” Patterson was an assistant director, gore wizard, and jack of all trades on several Herschell Gordon Lewis’ late-period films. But that doesn’t matter. In 1973, he decided to make his own movie. It was called The Body Shop, then changed to Doctor Gore for home video release in the 80s. Today, it might change your life.
Dr. Don Brandon (J.G. Patterson) has lost his wife to a car accident. We hear about it over a transistor radio while swans frolic in a lake. In narration that sounds similar to Elvis Presley’s spoken word section in “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” the good doctor decides he’s going to bring his wife back from the dead. He digs the body up, wraps her in foil, and attaches electrodes to her. She catches on fire! He gives up! And smokes a lot of cigarettes. Next logical step? Why of course! Seduce some girls (despite Dr. Gore’s gargantuan comb-over and numerous facial growths), kill them, and take the most attractive parts from each to create a perfect woman. Her name is Ellen. There is also a hunchback. His name is Greg.
Where to begin? Amidst nonsensical and frequent jump cuts, an amazing electronic and organ-based score, and ghastly, but theatrical looking gore, you STILL have J.G. Patterson’s giant head and hilarious musical interludes with country singer Bill Hicks. Dialogue is insane and hilarious. Doctor Gore is a fantastically bizarre movie and should be heralded as a classic. You’ll laugh, cringe, and drop your jaw. I had a blast watching this film.
Now, forget about the gore and spooky stuff. How To Make A Doll is a film that’s so odd, so strangely concocted, that it defies categorization. There’s no rhyme or reason and I can’t begin to figure out what this movie is aiming for. Comedy? Sci-fi? Nudie-cutie with no nudity? I think it may have been filmed on another planet.
There’s this spazzy college professor named Percy Corly. He’s a 32 year old nerd and has no luck with the lady friends. College kids are usually making out around him and he’s fascinated by the subject. Percy drives around in his red mini-car and gets his neck tie stuck in the doorway a lot. Spurned on by his mother and frustrated by his lack of success with girls, Percy and his professor friend figure out a way to create bikini-clad ladies with their super computer. Let the party begin! But will Percy tire of all the free poonanny and seek true love?
Terms that come to mind frequently while watching How To Make A Doll are “unwatchable,” “pointless,” and “a chore to sit through.” This is all true. But to me, How To Make A Doll is an unknown bad film peach, just ripe for the pickens. It’s so off the wall and out there, that I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen. The acting and line delivery is completely over the top. The computer spouts tons of ridiculous sounds and dialogue for minutes on end. The jokes are preschool-level awful. The computer is comprised of some wood paneling, a lite-brite, a punch card typewriter, and an IBM reel of tape. The whole thing looks thrown together and extremely cheap. The ending makes no sense! None of it makes sense! I love you!
AUDIO AND VIDEO
Both films are presented full frame. Doctor Gore looks pretty fantastic. I didn’t notice many scratches and the colors are big and bright. The audio was also very crisp and clear. How To Make A Doll had it’s share of scratches, similar to Lewis’ other films of this period, but it’s definitely an above average print. The audio, on the other hand, was completely muffled, distorted, and well, abysmal. The dialogue sounded like it was recorded in someone’s bathroom with a toy microphone.
The strange extras fit this very strange double bill like a glove. First, treat yourself to a number of similarly themed trailers, ranging from goofy and fun to gory to completely sleazy and gross. My favorite was Dr. Black & Mr. Hyde — “Don’t give him no sass, or he’ll kick yo’ ass!”
Next up, we’ve got three shorts and a gallery of old horror magazine cover art. Perhaps the best extra on this disc is the 80s-era introduction taped for early video copies of Doctor Gore. Yep, the film is introduced by Herschell Gordon Lewis himself, expounding on the virtues of J.G. Patterson in someone’s living room. It’s great to see. The next short is pointless and completely boring, an early Hammer film from the 30s called The Vampire From Marrakesh. I’m glad it’s only nine minutes. Last, we have Maniac Hospital. This short seems to concern the horrors of fucking a prostitute and reminded me of an early David Lynch short. Very odd, quite tame, and trying too hard.
Lastly, we have a commentary track on Doctor Gore with Jeffrey Hogue, owner of Majestic International Pictures (the company that owns the film) and film historian Cynthia Starr-Soroka. It’s pretty fascinating, as Mr. Hogue recounts his experiences and origins in the movie business. The track is intelligent, articulate, and jam-packed. The only downside is that Doctor Gore only receives around five minutes of talk time at the 72 minute mark. But as is, it’s a great listen.
Connoisseurs of very strange cinema take note: you don’t want to miss this DVD. Both films are unknown classics in my book and it’s the little discoveries like this that make watching these types of films so much fun. ELLEN!