Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1972
Starring: Frank Kress, Amy Farrell, Hedda Lubin, Henny Youngman
“She threatened me with some sort of a gesture that only a lady wrestler would use.”
A stripper, Suzie Cream Puff, is brutally murdered and reporter Nancy Weston is determined to get to the bottom of things. She hires famed detective Abraham Gentry on behalf of her newspaper, offering him a good sum of money to solve the case. Nancy and Gentry begin investigating in the strip club where Suzie Cream Puff worked, but meanwhile another stripper is murdered. Gentry comes up with a number of suspects, including a war vet who enjoyed crushing the skulls of both enemies and fellow soldiers. Meanwhile, he gets Nancy drunk to keep her out of the way.
When yet another stripper is gruesomely murdered with a protest button found at the scene of the crime, Gentry also begins to suspect the leader of a feminist group who organizes radical protests at the local strip clubs. Gentry and Nancy get closer to the truth and hold an amateur striptease contest in order to find out the killer’s identity once and for all.
Herschell Gordon Lewis’s final film for over 30 years, The Gore Gore Girls, is plagued by many of the same issues as Lewis’s earlier work: bad acting, a ridiculous script, shoddy camerawork, questionable effects, etc. If you like low budget, trashy exploitation movies, there’s a lot here to love, but if the subgenre just isn’t your thing, you will passionately hate it. I tend to be somewhere in the middle, as I love certain low budget gore movies (Blood Freak and I Drink Your Blood to name a few), but am bored by others (Lewis’s Wizard of Gore).
Gore Gore Girls is surprisingly entertaining and endearing, which is mostly due to Frank Kress, who is surprisingly good in his only role as Abraham Gentry, the prissy detective and insufferable know-it-all. He’s not a good actor by any stretch of the imagination, but is practically Academy Award material by Lewis’s normal standard. Gentry is essentially a stock character taken from pulp mystery novels and this simplicity works in the film’s favor. The lovely Amy Farrell (The Streets of San Francisco) is also decent his reporter sidekick, Nancy Weston, and is less grating than many of Lewis’s other female characters over the years.
Of course, Gore Gore Girls is not without its flaws. Comic Henny Youngman (Goodfellas, Amazon Women on the Moon) is out of place as the strip club owner and delivers some truly awful jokes. I’m really not sure how I feel about the comedy here. In some ways, this is Lewis’s funniest film, though there are times where his attempts at comedy simply distract from the gore and murder mystery elements.
Speaking of gore, this is probably Lewis’s goriest and most violent film with a whole new range of atrocities, including gouged out eyes, creative use of a carving fork, boiled flesh, tenderized buttocks, etc. Whether it was intentional or not, there are also some giallo-like elements from the scantily clad women being gruesomely murdered to the killer’s raincoat and black gloves. Though the script does pay a little attention to the murder mystery, though the fun seems to be going through the vignette-like murders, rather than solving the crimes. The killer’s identity is pretty meaningless and arbitrary. Oddly, this does not detract from the film and things end on an upbeat note.
Though I think Lewis newbies should start with his Blood trilogy, I enjoyed Gore Gore Girls enough to recommend it, certainly more so than Wizard of Gore. Although, as with that film Gore Gore Girls often has a so-bad-it’s-surreal quality, something you will either love or hate. Gore Gore Girls is available on special edition DVD or as a double feature Blu-ray with The Wizard of Gore.