I've never been an H. G. Lewis fan. It's nothing personal; I find his movies visually bland and badly acted--and those are the GOOD points. Watching this unintentionally goofy horror effort from 1970 did nothing whatsoever to change my opinion.The central premise is fairly imaginative and promising: A magician named Montag the Magnificent stages remarkably realistic variations of old smoke-and-mirrors tricks, like sawing a woman in half or pounding a spike through another's head. Incredibly, his volunteers leave the stage unscathed--only to die horribly later, due to some bizarre delayed effect. The police go nuts trying to figure out what we the audience know from the get-go: Montag possesses some very real--and very deadly--magic.
The film occasionally hints at a metaphysical subtext of the what's-real/what-isn't variety, but make no mistake: this movie exists solely for its cheap gore effects, which are both plentiful and unconvincing. For all his reputation as the "godfather of gore," Lewis really is a lousy director. His dialogue scenes are utterly boring. Shots are framed poorly. In one scene you can actually see a crewperson reflected in a mirror.
Despite everything, the film generates a certain low-level campy charm. It's just so damn silly, between Ray Sager's ultra-hammy performance and all the viscera that looks like ground-up hamburgers, that you have to give it that much credit at least.But more than anything else, it's boring. This is one wizard no one should be off to see.