Written and Directed by: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Starring: Brooke McCarter, Nevada Caldwell, and Joel D. Wynkoop
Reviewed by: Brett G.
ďBreak it up, you two gore-gore girls--we're not gonna have a blood feast...Ē
I donít really have high hopes for my existence at 80 years old; if Iím even around and am able to feed myself, Iíll consider it a major victory. Herschell Gordon Lewis certainly doesnít seem to be interested in merely eeking out an existence at that age; when he returned after a thirty year old hiatus to deliver Blood Feast 2 a decade ago, that seemed like the big bloody cherry on top of the severed limbs he piled up over the course of his career. If that was like a dessert we never expected to get, then I guess his latest offering is like having your cake and eating it too. Now that Iím all out of terrible clichťs, letís get on with The Uh Oh Show!
Thatís also the title of the filmís game show, which is a demented trivia-based affair. Winning contestants walk away with all sorts of prizes: trips, cars, supermodels (?), Hollywood actors (!?), trips to Russian Space Stations (?!?), and more. However, most importantly, they get to walk away with all of their body parts intact. See, if they get their (usually impossibly difficult) question wrong, a wheel is spun that determines just how theyíll be mutilated. It becomes a nationwide sensation, but a local television reporter isnít convinced itís all a bunch of special effects when her dimwitted boyfriend disappears after an appearance on the show. As the showís producers look to capitalize on its popularity by creating a spin-off for prime time, she sets out to uncover the truth.
By this point, we should probably be calling HGL the ďGreat Godfather of Gore,Ē and he takes a page out of fellow shlock-master Lloyd Kaufmanís book by taking a satirical route similar to Poultrygeist (Kaufman himself actually cameos as a pimp, which is unfortunately not as funny as it sounds). His aim and approach is very broad, as heís tackling stuff like media conglomeration, sensationalism, desensitization, instant gratification, and exploitation (which of course is super ironic coming from him). The main thrust (if there is one--as you might expect, this movie is a bit scatter-brained) deals with the network shenanigans, particularly their use of bloodlust as a ratings grab; basically, imagine Network by way of The Wizard of Gore and with the subtlety of a buzz saw to the face. Unfortunately, youíll also need to imagine what itís like pretty much devoid of humor because The Uh-Oh Show is a little bit too silly and obnoxious for its own good.
I suppose itís pretty much what youíd expect from Lewis. By the end of the film, youíll feel like the wheel of death landed on your brain, as your mind will feel sufficiently pulverized by the filmís utter disregard for taste and decency. This is a bad movie that knows itís a bad movie, even if it does carry better production values and acting than many of his films (not that it really matters). Bouncing from one inane scene to the next, it mostly feels like a collection of stupidity more than an actual narrative. Lewis himself relates the whole thing as a demented fairy tale to a group of kids, who pass around and marvel at hacked up extremities and such, which is admittedly kind of awesome. Not so awesome is how dull things get when he makes the mistake of thinking we should somehow care about these characters, who provide no compelling reason for them to survive the filmís various implements of death.
Luckily, few escape a gory fate, and this is where Lewis reveals that time hasnít mellowed him out at all. The filmís premise will of course recall the aforementioned Wizard of Gore, as itís mostly an exercise in creatively dismembering a cast. Featuring mostly practical effects, The Uh-Oh Show has more than a few memorable gags--people are halved, decapitated, and gloriously gutted as they spill a ton of that vibrant vermillion blood that Lewis loves to splash around. However, he doesnít even let up with the humor here, as none of these victims actually perish from these wounds; instead, they often continue to yuk it up in goofy fashion, just in case you were taking this sucker seriously at all.
Anyone who is even remotely familiar with HGLís work should have known that already, so Iím not sure you can say this movie doesnít meet expectations: itís a showcase of gratuitous gore, even if it is masquerading as a thinly-veiled satire. Actually, I think even the veil went through the buzz-saw. Besides, itís hard to be tough on old uncle Herschell, and itís not like his legacy can exactly be tainted. Apparently, this debuted at a film festival (albeit in incomplete form) a couple of years ago, which explains the 2009 date; itís just now been released to DVD by Shriek Show, who gives it a decent presentation--the transfer is solid, as the film seems to have been shot digitally. The soundtrack is only in stereo, but itís more than adequate, as youíll here all the squishy and pulpy eviscerations just fine. While thereís only one making-of feature, thereís three commentaries: one with Lewis, one with producers Andrew Allan, Andy Lalino, and Mark Ford, and yet another with Brooke McCarter and Joel Wynkoop. This is certainly no Blood Feast (or even Blood Feast 2); itís more like the last little crummy leftovers. Rent it!
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