Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: She Kills

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

She Kills
Written and directed by Ron Bonk
SRS Cinema / Duke Studios
101 minutes, 2015

Poor Sadie (Jennie Russo): she’s an innocent (okay, stupid), virginal, and targeted by a mob of deviants that call themselves The Touchers. On their wedding night at a cheap motel, these bad asses lust for her and want to torment her husband, Edwin (Kirk LaSalle), who is a Brad Majors-type geek.

Virtuous Sadie (Jennie Russo)
Now, how virtuous (dumb) is our heroine? Here’s a typical early-on conversation:
Sadie: I believe in mahogany before marriage.
Edwin: You mean “monogamy.”
Sadie: The Board game?

What’s even worse, though, is that she is cursed by having a…. FIREcrooootch. That Is, a Firecrotch, but said in a sotto voce, with the first part spoken fast and the second part dragged out. What that means is that whoever smells her – er – distinctive lower body fluid, loses control (male or female) and turns into a sex-crazed and violent hyped-up fiend.

Just in case I haven’t done a Nixon and been perfectly clear, in a roundabout way, this is not only a comedy, it is one of those goofy films that are way smarter than it appears. Writer and director Ron Bonk uses the foundation of ‘70s Grindhouse and ‘80s Video Nasties to present a movie that you really, truly need to watch without looking away. It’s easy to miss a lot by casual viewing. While some of the humor is right in your face, there is also a lot of subtleties that are easy to miss, such as the latch to a suitcase breaking apart when opened, or one of my favorites when Sadie does the gearing up for battle to take on the Touchers montage (the first of a few), she takes a pile of white clothes and sews them into her “killing” suit, and the finished product is unexplainably black. Note that I’m not even scratching the surface in that direction.

While Sadie is rightfully the focus of the film as its titular protagonist, it’s worth mentioning the Touchers, whose ridiculous name-jacket is more reminiscent of the Hooligals of the “Newhart” show than, say, the Hells Angels. They are five, well, also dumb as stumps thugs who get their comeuppance in a mystic Day of the Woman (aka I Spit on Your Grave; 1978) meets The Crow (1994) mated with Teeth (2007) and the more recent Killer Rack (2015; reviewed HERE).

After several assaults, including by her pseudo-Chinese father (Mateo Prendergast) and Asian brother Chung Lee III (Matt Mendoza) – just so they can delve into the ‘70s Kung Fu genre, including fake vocal dubs – she seeks out Casparella (Niecy Cerise), a black gypsy friend who explains the curse. Through really bad ‘70s style special effects like you’d see in the likes Galaxina (1980), Sadie becomes a champion of womanhood and the destructor of men. And how does she do this? Well, the best way to explain it is that this film was, according to the credits, “based on the novel She Kills with Her Crotch, by Sir Bertrand Covington.”  

Of course, every one she violently disposes of deserves to die, especially The Touchers. Reggie (Michael Merchant) is the cool dood greaser type daddy-o. It’s he who brings Sadie to the attention of his mates. Then there’s Poodle (Jody Pucello); he’s more Italian or Latino gang stereotype based. The only female of the troupe is Beatrice (Martha Zemsta; either the world’s worst actor, or a phenomenally good one who excels in playing badly), a leather wearer in biker mode, who has a constant cold sore over her lip. Blue (David Royal) is the brainless Hulk-like member – he even says, at some point, “Blue smash” – with the time period anachronistic piercings; Royal plays him as a scary-yet-somehow-sympathetic dolt (nice job).

Dirk (Trey Harrison)
The leader of the gang, and the owner of one of the most amazing and purposefully fakey handlebar moustaches (and so much more) in film history, is Dirk (Trey Harrison, a former Playgirl centerfold of the year). He is the boss in an Eric von Zipper way, and is no smarter than our heroine (though, honestly, only Blue is arguably dumber than anyone in the film), believing that he is all things to all people, and better than the rest (I was almost expecting him to use the Zipperism “You are my idol, but I am my ideal”). His narcissism, of course, leads him down a path of destruction both to others and himself, like I’m giving anything away in this subgenre. Using wide eyes, tilting head, and a voice that has a sort of an exaggerated surfer tone, Trey plays him with a flair of stylizing overacting that gives him a little bit of likeability, even as the main villain (perhaps because he is a bad boy).

Vengeful Sadie
One of the aspects of the film that I like, even with its total nonsense of a story (which, honestly, doesn’t matter much in the enjoyment factor), is it takes a cue from Tarantino’s two Kill Bill films (2003/2004): Bonk is not afraid to shed subgenres from scene to scene, giving some very direct homages down the way. Along with the Euro-Nudie opening, some include the aforementioned revenge and Kung Fu, with more direct reverence to The Crow and a film I’ve always wanted to see, Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1973; aka Thriller: en grym film), whose main image is of a woman (Christina Lindberg) in a red outfit and eyepatch (this is the origin of the eyepatch, not the Darryl Hannah character in Kill Bill).

Now, depending on your philosophical epistemology, the viewer may see this as a very pro-woman film, or a very anti-woman film. I’m gonna stick with, Jeez, this was fun. For example, there is a very unrealistic-looking gang rape scene, but every male is wearing belted pants during the sex; Russo is naked, however, with extra hair added on because, well, it’s the “‘70s,” when men were men, and women were unshaven, often anywhere. The men are “in charge” at the beginning, but through actions, that balance changes. Lesbianism is mocked a fair bit, but so is heterosexuality. There is also a multitude of metaphoric synonyms for both male and female body parts, but the latter gets the grand share; for example, in one instance someone says “tuna taco,” and later in the film Sadie self-referentially states: ““There’s a new sheriff in town, and her meat flaps are packing death!” That would have made a great campaign slogan for the picture.

With both story and visuals, this film would probably fall into the category of “cartoon violence.” Everything is just so over the top, it’s hard to take the actions seriously (meant as a positive). Before watching the film, the director tried to warn me that it is out there and extreme. He also didn’t comment on how absolutely squirrelly nuts it was to the point where you can’t help but laugh at just about everything, even the violence. The fight scenes (especially the Kung Fu ones) are sloppy at best (again, purposefully). However, the nunchucks and staff creation alone is worth the watch in this scene.

The film definitely has an overabundance (underabundance?) feel to it, much like the old “Dolemite” sketches they used to do on MadTV a while back. On set “accidents” happen, such as pictures getting knocked off the wall, only for a quick edit to have it back. I remember when films were actually like this because the budget was so small that every piece of negative was needed to be used to make up the expense, even with the errors. With digital, now the oops-factor is more often a matter of timing (e.g., needing to get the shot before the light fades), incompetence of the crew (but still fun for the audience), or in cases like this, to lovingly mock old-school indie films.

The gore is plentiful. Sometimes it’s really silly looking (e.g., really fake looking heads exploding) and most of the time it’s extremely cool, but happily there is lots of it. As for nudity, Russo is naked often (thankfully she’s attractive), and there is a couple of others in another scene, but it’s more the gore than nudity that’s the focus, even with the volume of sex shown.

How much fun is this film? Perhaps this will explain it best: immediately after watching it, I started it at the beginning and watched it again. And both times I was not bored for an instance. There ya go.



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