Oh, The Humanity! Verotika

verotika index
Last year the AV Club became very excited about Verotika, claiming that it was the horror film version of The Room, a hilariously misjudged film packed with terrible acting, ridiculous dialogue and all round insanity that was delightfully awful. Written and directed by Heavy Metal singer Glenn Danzig, and based on his comics characters, it’s an anthology film that tells three different stories, and while nowhere near as deranged as The Room it definitely is a very strange work indeed and could well become a cult classic.

After a brief (and pointless) introduction from our host Morella who links all three tales with shitty one liners that don’t always make sense, the first story begins with a couple making out on the sofa, and despite events quickly becoming hot and heavy and the woman present performing a sex act on the man she doesn’t want to take her top off. It’s not because she’s prudish though, but because instead of nipples she has another set of eyes, and when the guy sees them he fucks off sharpish, leaving our leading lady to bemoan “Not again”. Cue the first big laugh of the film, and it’s a very large one at that.

If you thought that sounds strange, well, Danzig’s only getting started, as for some unknown reason when the breast eyes start crying the tears land on a spider, and that causes the spider to become, well, a spider-man, though this isn’t in any way like Peter Parker as he’s an albino fella with eight arms and a penchant for anal sex and murder. For some reason he only exists when our lead is asleep, but due to the fact that she seemingly suffers from narcolepsy that’s nearly all of the time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it’s a segment that will generate an enormous amount of unintentional laughter, from the Spider’s terrible acting and the way he goes on about his love for snapping necks to the way our female hero visits an adult cinema to try and stay awake because that’s obviously standard behaviour for anyone who presumably is unaware of the existence of coffee (or, given the fact that she’s a model, cocaine or speed) yet oddly pornography just sends her all but instantly to sleep as well. Then the denouement is as daft as you might expect too, and it led me to believe that the rest of the film would be enormous campy fun.

Unfortunately the second segment isn’t as good, as we follow a stripper called “Mysterious Girl” who keeps most of her face covered up as it turns out it’s covered in scars. This is one of those strip clubs where hardly anyone gets naked but the camera lingers off the skin on display in a fairly unpleasant way, and the sequences set there go on for way too long, often showing us a woman dancing in a very bored manner for absolutely no reason for several minutes at a time. Perhaps watching it in a cinema will lead to group hysteria, but I can’t imagine anyone watching it on their own would find it intriguing, or even vaguely sexy, for a second.

At least the cops attempting to solve the murders are wryly amusing, a kind of pastiche of film noir types with one of them having the kind of voice that sounds like he’s gargled razorblades for a decade or two, and who trot out ridiculous things like “There’s your motive. They wanted a face”, and when they finally put two and two together and realise that the thirteen dead, faceless bodies might be linked one cop sarcastically comments “You think?” in a rare deliberately funny moment.

Our killer’s something of a chatty kathy as she rambles away to her wall of faces, asking them “How’d you like some more company?” and replying “I thought so” as if they’d somehow communicated with her. But the segment runs out of steam when after the cops find her business card (because what self respecting stripper doesn’t have one) there’s a brief fight, our murderous lead gets away, and we’re subjected to another tedious stripping scene six months later just so that we know she’s still out there, and presumably still killing too, but it’s not exactly a satisfying conclusion.

The AV Club piece on the film suggested that the third sequence was the worst, and thus the best, but I’d say it was just the former and a hugely disappointing way to end the film. The tale of Drukija, Contessa Of Blood, our blood hungry Contessa likes to bathe in the blood of virgins, and shower in it too, because she believes it keeps her looking youthful. And hey, maybe it does, but that’s no excuse for far too many long sequences of her rubbing blood over her naked body, slashing open the throats of various women, and, well, that’s about it. At one point it looks like something might happen when the Contessa suggests the villagers are suspicious about all of the young women going missing, but that’s never followed up on and at the end the Contessa’s still fucking about without a care in the world.

While the other tales were absurdly ludicrous even if there were sequences which went on for too long, this really is weak, tacky and tedious stuff in the extreme, and even a scene where the Contessa chows down on a human heart doesn’t liven things up, it’s lacking in anything which is particularly unintentionally funny like the others, so I’ve no idea why the AV Club rated it so highly. The film as a whole doesn’t really compare to The Room either, yes it’s a movie that people will laugh at when they’re supposed to take it seriously but that’s about the only thing they have in common. There’s no terrible central performance from a deluded crazy man, no dialogue that makes absolutely no sense, and no misunderstanding of human emotions and discourses, it’s just some rather silly horror shorts.

That’s not to say it’s not worth watching, or the first two segments are, at least. If you can put up with the depressing amount of skin on display there is some really amusingly pitiful sub amateur dramatics acting, dialogue of the kind which sounds like it was written by a depressed thirteen year old, and some of the imagery is extremely memorable and then some, the breast eyes and spider-fella especially. And it will undoubtedly make you laugh a fair amount too, but if you turn off after the first hour you really won’t miss out on anything by not seeing the final third.

★★

Alex Finch.
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