Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dead Girls (1990)

Brooke (Ilene B. Singer), the younger sister of Gina – aka Berta Beirut – main songwriter of death-themed manufactured all girls with a boy drummer rock band Deadgirls, is the only survivor of an attempted group suicide inspired by the band’s music (it’s just that bad). Gina, plagued by curious nightmares, decides that the thing to do is to visit her old home, have hilariously dramatic shouting matches with her crazy bigoted aunt and the local preacher who also happens to own a pair of most disturbing eyebrows, and pack up her little sister, an obnoxious nurse any sane person would have fired after five minutes, her bickering band consisting of total weirdoes, and their porn-moustached security guy, to drive off to a cabin in the woods, so that Brooke can get some rest.

Which just might sound like a rather dubious idea even if you ignore the fact that the Deadgirls are also followed by a killer in a skull mask wearing a stylish hat who finds inspiration for his murder weapons in their song lyrics.

Ah, it does take a certain mind set to enjoy the beauty and horror of late 80s/early 90s direct-to-video ultra-cheapo horror that may or may not have been shot on video but certainly looks that way. One really needs to leave useless concepts like good taste out of the picture for ninety minutes or so, learn to respect a film that keeps everyone correctly in frame as technically sound (and enjoy every filmmaking trick that goes beyond this as an example of Art), and roll with amateur acting, a dubious script, and so on and so forth.

If you can’t, yet still watch this stuff, the only thing it’ll ever get you is the opportunity to call perfectly innocent movies “the worst film ever” on the IMDB.

This doesn’t mean there’s no good or bad in direct-to-video horror in this style, but what’s good to one person actually in the market for enjoying this sort of thing at all might still look very bad indeed to another one. Some of us who enjoy this stuff go in for the gore, others for bizarre dialogue, again others for films that break as many rules of filmmaking as humanly possible.

Me, I’ve found joy in every single one of these things, but what can really get me about one of these films is a display of enthusiasm. Which, finally, brings me back to Dennis Devine’s (who is still shooting cheap horror, surprisingly enough) Dead Girls, a cheapo slasher that oozes enthusiasm throughout most of its running time, with nary a second in it that isn’t in the business of having fun – be it with the awesome mixture of naivety and sarcasm about the shock rock business of the first ten minutes or so (including a “Yugoslavian journalist” who dresses like a cliché librarian), the bizarre nature of a band whose members include a heavily armed survivalist gal who’ll philosophize about “the void” as well as karma later on and a brother/sister duo with a heavy incestual vibe, or the absurd yet awesome series of plot twists based on the fact that most everyone in the film is absolutely bonkers the whole thing ends on.

In between, there are strangely likeable acting performances, a handful of killings made by a guy who looks a bit like Rorschach, some impressively awkward sexy times, one of the worst acting portrayals of a mentally disabled man I’ve ever had the joy to see, moments of editing perhaps done with an axe, surprise moments of authentically atmospheric shots or even scenes, dialogue that’s too snarkily funny to be called dumb, and from time to time outbreaks of hysterically dramatic acting of exactly the overdone amateurish type that can truly warm my heart.

I have no idea what more I could ask of a film.

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