Dr. Gore makes Bill Girdler's cheapest pictures (think Three on a Meathook or Asylum of Satan) look like high art. If Bill made low budget films, this is surely a less-than-zero budget film.
On the surface, Dr. Gore might seem like a campy good time, what with its "clear day for stormy night" shots and not-so-special effects that include tinfoil and duct tape. Let me make it perfectly clear: Dr. Gore is NOT a campy good time. Unless you're the type who thinks colon cancer screening is a hoot and a half. The plot is barely coherent; the pacing less brisk than a two-legged turtle. Not to mention the fact that the film overflows with misogyny. To be blunt, this film is pure rot. Not heartless rot, but rot just the same.
Originally titled The Body Shop, the movie was directed/written/produced by gore f/x master Pat Patterson in 1973. He also stars in Dr. Gore AS Dr. Gore. An acquaintance of Lee Jones, Pat provided the gore effects for Girdler's Three on a Meathook. In turn, Bill's Studio One in Louisville lent a hand in Dr. Gore's post-production. Girdler is credited as the score's composer. He also provided the sound effects … and possibly a little directorial guidance. The Body Shop is said to have enjoyed a limited release in North Carolina (where it was filmed) circa 1974.
Pat Patterson (aka J.G. Patterson) is an important yet somewhat unsung hero of 60s/70s exploitation movies. Not only was his gore expertise utilized by directors like Herschell Gordon Lewis and William Girdler, but Patterson himself produced and/or directed a number of films, including Obscenity, Obscenity (he was assistant director under Donn Davison), The Electric Chair, Preacherman, and The California Axe Murders. Friends of Pat remember him fondly as a multi-talented, warm-hearted man who was often hornswaggled by fast-talking film folks. In his day, he was best known for his ability to produce highly effective gore effects for very little money or recognition.
The 80s VHS release of Dr. Gore features an introduction by Herschell Gordon Lewis. Lewis talks a little about his own gore masterworks, claiming that the quality of his films was measured by the amount of fake blood used. He explains, "Blood Feast was a three-gallon picture. 2000 Maniacs was a five-gallon picture. Once we started working with Pat Patterson, we were up to 15-20 gallons of blood."
"I GUESS I AM THE AMAZING HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS" -- REAL AUDIO: 86 KB
Lewis says that since Patterson died in 1974, the film remained incomplete and was once thought lost forever. Then Herschell warns, "Don't look for highly sophisticated filmmaking here. You might not like the acting, you may not like the story line. For all I know, you might not like the gore. But if ever a film was the reflection of one person, it's this film -- the lost film of the master of gore, Pat Patterson."
We open with a shot of a man feeding swans by a lake on a clear, beautiful day. The music of a toy piano sets the tone (it sounds as if it's playing "Raindrops on Roses" in the wrong key). A voice from a radio breaks in. "An early morning crash took the life of Mrs. Anitra Brandon, wife of the famous plastic surgeon and scientist Don Brandon. The former Miss Brandon was always known as society's darling, and the center of attraction at any social gathering in which she attended. She also won countless beauty pageants, and had been a prominent pinup model. And now back to more music ... here's Bill Hicks singing his latest hit A Heart Dies Every Minute …"
THE OVERPLAYED AND HIGHLY IRRITATING MAIN THEME FOR DR. GORE - COMPLIMENTS OF WILLIAM GIRDLER. THIS DITTY IS REPEATED ROUGHLY FORTY-THOUSAND TIMES THROUGHOUT THE FILM. REAL AUDIO: 178 KB
We cut to a funeral. A glum, chain-smoking Dr. Don Brandon (Pat Patterson) stands by his wife's fresh grave. He takes a pink rose from atop the casket and smells it. He thinks to himself, "Goodbye my darling -- not for eternity. Just for a little while. I can't live without you. My every thought is to restore you to my side again. As soon as we can find a good specimen we will start the experiments."
That night, Don and his grunting hunchbacked toady Gregory break into a DIFFERENT graveyard to dig up a female body. They bring the corpse back to Don's spooky castle. Thunderclaps ring out as they arrive (this despite the cheery BLUE sky?).
They descend to Don's basement laboratory and place the body on an examining table. The viewer is subjected to seven minutes of watching Don and his hunchback wrap the woman's body in TINFOIL and DUCT TAPE!! Don then attaches some electrodes to the body (on her nipples, no less). Once that's finished, the doctor flips a switch, and all sorts of electrical gizmos light up. There's another three-minute stretch of dial turning. Smoke pours from the body. The cadaver begins to jump from under the tinfoil, kinda like a big human Jiffy Pop. Dr. Don frantically gears down his machines. He rushes to the steaming body, then hangs his head in shame. His experiment was a failure; he didn't re-animate the body. Don calls to his hunchback toady, " Greg -- you may as well clean up the mess." Gregory drags the charred corpse to a vat of bubbling acid. As the hunchback tosses the body into the vat, the doctor retreats to his desk. He turns to the pink rose he took from his wife's grave, which he re-potted. Don drips some mysterious liquid upon the rose. He addresses his dead wife via the flower, "We'll be together again -- only this time you'll be perfect."
A SKILLFULLY EDITED 2 MINUTE CLIP OF THE ABOVE SCENE. FAR MORE ENJOYABLE THAN THE 10 MINUTE FILM VERSION. MPEG MOVIE: 5 MB
The next morning, dressed in his best suit, the doctor wakes up Gregory. A loud rapping at the door startles both Greg and the doctor. "Get that, it might be the door," says a keenly observant Don. "And put your coat on so they don't know you're a hunchback." (!?!)
Some delivery people barge in with a giant trunk. "Whaddya got in there, doc, a body?" asks one of the men. Don laughs off the comment and casually signs the receipt. Once the men exit, Don and Greg open the trunk to reveal a stiff female corpse. The doctor is pleased because the body will provide some key parts for his "love connection."
Don confronts Gregory. "You want to be normal. I want a perfect mate. You help me with my experiments and I'll make you normal like other people -- then I'll make a mate for you." The hunchback smiles and grunts in agreement. (As an aside, Greg the hunchback grunts throughout this entire movie - think "Lumpy" from The Star Wars Holiday Special.)
The doctor and his henchman journey to a beach. Gregory hides nearby as Don flirts with a busty bikini babe. The two make out in the sand. (Pat Patterson: what a genius! He casts himself as a leading man who constantly scores with hot chicks!) The scene is MOS (like many others), so there is no sound but for a droning one-note score. The doctor and the broad scamper toward the ocean and play in the surf. Without warning, the doctor pushes the woman's head under the waves and clumsily drowns her. The hunchback winces in disgust when he sees the woman's lifeless body.
They carry the babe's corpse back to Don's basement. After lopping off her limbs with a saw, the doctor exclaims, "We have the perfect torso. We need the perfect legs, arms, head and hands -- hands are important! We MUST add to our collection!"
That night, the doctor heads out to a local steak and seafood restaurant. The live entertainment for the evening is Bill Hicks singing his hit country ballad "A Heart Dies Every Minute." This musical interlude has Girdler written all over it, and was possibly inspired by the infamous "American X-Press" number from Three on a Meathook. Sadly, Bill Hicks fails to muster the - um - raw energy that is seen in Meathook, so the scene feels excruciatingly long and boring.
Once Hicks wraps up his song (four hundred years later), a dumb mambo ditty strikes up and some Latino guy performs a creepy solo dance with a babushka (I shit you not). We see a young woman with a beehive hairdo ask her lover to dance (even though no one else except for the babushka guy is dancing). Her beau declines, claiming that he'd much rather sit and talk. Then her boyfriend excuses himself from the table for no particular reason. The woman exchanges sexy glances with the chain-smoking doctor from across the room. Don approaches her and manages to put the girl in some kind of Bela Lugosi-styled trance. The doctor sneaks away as her boyfriend returns. The woman berates her man for being a bore, then mashes a plate of food into his face. She leaves the restaurant to find the magnetic Dr. Don.