Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Damn My Eyes

This film is really something. I mean REALLY something. There are some films – Orgy of the Vampires or Grapes of Death – that are best enjoyed in the company of a lot of friends with a pretty broad idea of a good time. The tagline of this film or the one that’s printed on the Image Entertainment DVD cover, “Shocking Beyond Belief” is actually one of the most fitting I’ve ever read. How is it possible that such a film was ever made? Never mind the confused dubbing, the plot so complicated that no one could possibly come away from this with a clear understanding of what’s going on, the ludicrous behavior of its titular characters, and the clumsiest editing I’ve ever encountered; the real reason to watch this movie is because it’s the most vile, debauched movie I’ve seen in years. It’s also the most illogical film I’ve seen since Resident Evil. What can you make of a film that refuses to give any of its characters names?

Revenge of the Living Dead Girls
by Pierre B. Reinhard

An oil tanker truck makes a pit stop when it’s driver spies a woman who’s too well dressed to be a hitchhiker. Sure enough, she’s a prostitute and soon the two have left the truck by the side of the road and are rolling in the hay loft of a barn on the side of the road. While they busy themselves, a man on a motorcycle who’s been following the truck gets off and climbs to the top. He pulls a plastic bottle filled with some orange liquid in it, unscrews the top of the truck and pours it in. Who would be tainting gasoline with Agent Orange, you ask? Well, that’s not actually an oil truck, you see, cause someone painted ‘Milk’ on the door. Make sense now? No. No it doesn’t. Well, the orange stuff is bad news because the next three girls we spy drinking the milk (don’t ask me why the first one is eating breakfast in expensive lingerie or why the second two went to a smoky bar to get a milkshake, this film and I have no answers for you) die from it shortly after. Later, some toxic chemicals are poured on their graves and they arise from the dead to seek revenge on everyone involved with their deaths.

Ok, here’s my biggest query about this film. It would appear, due to the fact the film has but one title instead of the usual thirteen international release monikers that accompany foreign-made gore films and that title is Revenge of the Living Dead Girls that this is supposed to be a sequel to Jean Rollin’s Living Dead Girl. Now, I stake this claim based on a few things, the first being the name comparison. The other reasons, other than the fact the producers of gore films could slap a ‘2’ or ‘3’ on just about any older title they wanted to and get away with it, are in the film’s handling of it’s kill scenes, it’s funeral scene, and it’s zombie causality. Overlong periods of time are spent lingering over knife wounds in much the same way as in Rollin’s film and take a look at the coffins the three living dead girls are buried in – they have the same placard on the front as Catherine Valmont’s. Finally, the way in which we are given our Living Dead Girls is through another titanically stupid scheme involving the disposal of unexplained toxic waste. Instead of some guys hiding it in a mine shaft that just happens to lead into a secret mausoleum, this asshole just pours it onto the graves of the three dead women. Why does he do it? Come with me into the warped land of backwards dealing and mad science called the plot.

So, let’s see how good my paraphrasing skills are, shall we? The driver of the motorcycle is apparently on the payroll of some corporation or other (the name or what the company does will never be revealed to us). When he spies girls two and three plotzing after their dosed milkshakes, he runs back to his boss to complain. He gets nowhere, which spares us the burden of knowing why in the world anyone would want to taint a town’s supply of milk. A little later, the same woman who plays mute with the biker pays the same prostitute from the opening to bed a higher up so they can blackmail him (this scene has one of my favorite lines, as it gave us the only way to tell the women in this movie apart. When the boss lady doesn’t give the prostitute as much money as she wants, our lady of the evening says “You’ve got an ass, darling. Use it.” From then on, the boss lady was ‘the one who has an ass’). We can reasonably assume that the woman with the ass set up the truck incident as she paid both prostitute and poisoner, but we will never EVER learn why. The blackmail shoot she sets up will also be left maddeningly motiveless. We get that she’s trying to get ahead but Christ knows where it’s going to get her, I don’t even know what the hell her job is. So once the prostitute drugs her john (who I’ll be calling Moustache Sal), the ass lady comes in and films her writhing around naked on top of him. The kind of person who would be fooled by footage of a woman moaning on top of a very obviously comatose man is not the kind of person on whom blackmail of this type should be wasted upon. The people who wind up with the tape are German investors – how do we know they’re German? There’s a small German flag on the desk that is constantly in frame – who, predictably, don’t know what to do with it. In fact, they seem just as confused as we do and don’t take any action at all. And why should they, the film’s only got 20 minutes left?

In between the tape’s creation and the German’s viewing it, we have the film’s mad scientist who claims he works for the Chemistry Factory. No joke, that’s what they call it. Who would like to bet money that screenwriter John King ISN’T illiterate? Anyway, he’s having an affair with Moustache Sal’s wife, who the living dead girls kill by sticking a high heel through her eye (which leaves no mess). Apparently our scientist’s idea of foreplay is for a girl to lie perfectly still while he narrates what he’s doing and then not move or breathe while they have sex, cause that’s what happens. He only realizes she was dead while he was fucking her the next day when someone else he’s screwing tells him “She cheated on you…with death”. This other girl also works for the corporation, and she wants to take ass lady for all she’s worth – that is, her blackmail money. “Have you ever dreamed of having one and a half million dollars?” she shouts at her doctor-lover. Anyway, the mad scientist is brought on to identify the toxic waste, and because apparently he’d driven a screwdriver into his long-term memory, he touches it with his hands after identifying it as dangerous. His hands will decay hence forth until he disappears from the film.

So, our ambitious girl who’s screwing the scientist steals a bunch of money from ass girl, who’s also having an affair with Moustache Sal, who let’s not forget, had his wife murdered not 12 hours ago. Then just about everyone (important or not) gets killed or vanishes and what he have left is ambitious girl driving away with the money, but first she makes one pit stop, to pick up the three living dead girls off the side of the road and let them into the car. Then their car is headed off by a police cordon (and a priest for some reason) and the car flips over and explodes. Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls has your deus ex machina Right HERE!!!!!

This was apparently advertised as France’s first gore films – I have about 4 wasted hours that say otherwise. It wasn’t the first, not by a longshot (It’s France, they practically invented filmic perversity) but it is most definitely the most despicable. Typically the French will focus on one aspect of a movie and the rest will have had its cost sucked right out of it. So if a movie has a lot of decent gore effects, chances are that’s where all the energy went to which means the plot will be paper thin and mostly forgotten by everyone. If a movie becomes more complicated by the minute in ways that you feel not even the screenwriter understands, chances are you’ll be left high and dry in the gore department. This is a movie that manages to both ratchet up the gore with every death scene while at the same time turning the INTRIGUE all the way up. The problem is there is more plot here than there is dialogue. So what that means is the movie moves from scene to scene without ever letting you know for certain what’s going on, but making damn sure you know SOMETHING is happening. The effect is something like reading a choose your own adventure novel, but not following the directions, just reading it straight through, going from complicated plot device to grizzly murder without being able to make sense of it.
Continuity, I feel, must have killed director Pierre Reinhard’s parents or something, because not only does it not exist, it’s abhorred. Everyone seems to be on the same page in that NO ONE EVER knows what the fuck is going on. Characters are introduced and forgotten and left nameless. Take for example everyone referring to the driver of the milk tanker as “Truck man”. Everyone’s job is completely unclear and they seem to shift offices and titles completely arbitrarily. The plot is so complicated and in the end makes nothing like sense. Pierre Reinhard was a porn director all his life and the sort of problems that could have plagued an 80s porn film without anyone in the audience complaining are present here in spades, but this isn’t a porn film. I know this because at no time did I experience anything close to pleasure. All I felt was misery and confusion. No, I know porn when it masquerades as a horror film, generally it looks like Mansion of the Living Dead This stopped being a party film the minute the three living dead girls get ahold of the guy pouring chemicals into the cemetery. In fact every scene involving them is enough to make you puke twice, if for nothing other than the sheer illogicality behind each murder. They drive a sword into the prostitute’s vagina, disrobe revealing decayed naked skin, and bite the cemetery guy’s dick off. If that weren’t enough they also hide out a lot, spy on people, drive cars, play the organ, hide in church confessionals, and plan aquatic stealth attacks. Ok, remember the scientist who’s sleeping with EVERYONE? He has a pregnant wife, who for no reason I can discern melts from the inside in what has to be the most unsettling baby-related horror device I’ve ever seen.
The ending suggests that the living dead girls are in fact, just living girls. If that’s true, than the orange stuff poured into the truck isn’t actually poison, right? Then why do they use it to kill the motorcycle driver? Why do they go through the trouble of hiding underground in full zombie make-up? How did they put the zombie make-up on whilst entombed? Why do they bite genitalia off, why do they have blue skin from rigor mortis? Why do they disembowel and eat organs? Why do they kill everyone involved in the ambitious girl’s plan if she didn’t need them to steal the money in the first place? Why? Why? WHY? People forget sometimes that a reveal is supposed to forward the plot, not make the plot unnecessary! Living Dead Girls is a breathtakingly awful mixture of every bad choice ever made in any zombie movie with the heftiest dose of smut I’ve ever witnessed in a living dead film. This movie just feels dirty for all 76 of its disgusting minutes. There’s a very good reason screenwriter John King never worked again in his life, he’s either a pseudonym or he was simply run out of films on a rail. Reinhard has made exactly one film since this movie and quite honestly the fact that this abortion of a movie made it onto DVD is astonishing. This movie is so fucking puzzling and amounts to little more than the sickest screen deaths I’ve ever seen and a collection of that time-tested dubbing trick wherein every line of dialogue is a contradictory idiom. Everyone changes their answers mid-sentence, so the dialogue is comprised of phrases being misused and then negated, “Definitely not…and yet…beyond a reasonable doubt…perhaps….absolutely” MAKE UP YOUR GODDAMNED MIND! I wasn’t expecting this movie to be quite so apocalyptically bad, and yet, here I sit, coated in the grimy residue of the most sickening, abstruse zombie film I’ve yet to see. You win, Movie. If you want to finally see what film went that extra step into madness you’d expected while watching Zombie 3 or Hell of the Living Dead, this is it.

No comments: