Monday, December 5, 2011

Goth Kill (2009)

Written by: JJ Connelly
Directed by: JJ Connelly
Starring, Flambeaux, Eve Blackwater, Anastacia Andino

A couple of years ago at B-Fest, El Santo gave me his copy of Goth Kill, because while discussing his review of it, I apparently had some kind of interesting theory as to what the ending meant. He had the movie along with him to donate to the raffle, but decided I'd get more out of it than a random stranger. Something more than the fire and naked goth chicks, as though there is more to life than that. Well, here we are almost two years later, and after repeatedly forgetting I had it sitting in my “to watch” pile or picking something else over it on the occasions I was thinking about it, I can't for the life of me remember what worthwhile insight I had about this movie that made him want to pass his copy on to me. Instead you're probably just going to get some jokes about metal and birth defects. Oh, you'll see what I mean when we get there.

In what I'm about 99% sure is the same woods where Type O Negative filmed the “Love You To Death” video, Satanic cult leader Nicholas Dread lures his followers to a clearing where, after reciting some words from the Book of Enoch, he mows them down with a hail of shot gun slugs. Dread is a pompous, lisping Irish doofus of a Satanist with a very snarky sense of humor, who in another reality could very easily be a character in a Rowan Atkinson comedy making fun of this movie's target demographic. This is most apparent in the frequent asides where Dread is playing Greek chorus to his own narrative from a throne surrounded by CSO fire and naked devil girls. He is also played by performance artist Flambeaux, who is apparently the goth world equivalent of hiring Mandy Moore for your movie. Flambeaux shoehorns in several of his fire eater bits, including one with what appears to be an elaborate Indian headdress made of burning marshmallows on sticks, much the same way that every Mandy Moore movie I've ever seen features at least one scene of her singing regardless of its relevance to the plot.

Anyway, he kills this group of “sanctimonious, phony Satanists” (apparently they weren't trve and grimm and kvlt enough, probably liked Liturgy – I can't think of any band I'd rather dip in a vat of H5N1 right now...), and happily submits to being arrested and sentenced to death. You see, Dread has a deal with the Devil that he will be allowed to reign over his own little hedge kingdom of 100,000 souls in Hell, provided he kills all 100,000 of them himself. Those cultists were the last of that number, and now he's ready to join them. Thanks to the law allowing prisoners last rites in the religion of their choosing, his one remaining follower comes in and reads some words from the Book of Enoch that will allow him an escape route should something go wrong. All she has to do in the event that whole Prince of Hell thing doesn't work out is wait for a supernatural signal and read the words again to bring him back in a new body. Unfortunately she gets run over in the street leaving the prison (by a Catholic priest, no less – clearly God has a sense of humor), and the book is stolen by a homeless guy who, due to an overzealous makeup artist, appears to be dying of ebola.

Well, Nick gets a hangin' (they make a big deal about how they made a special exception to hang him instead of electrocution or lethal injection, and he is very pleased by this, although I have no idea why being hung was important to his plan as even if he did get resurrected he'd come back in a different body – and if he came back in this one the neck would be broken...) and goes to Hell, but he's been snookered. There are no 100,000 souls and a throne and cape and pitchfork for him, just a black endless void.

Meanwhile, high school friends Annie and Kate are moving in to their first big girl apartment together in New York. They haven't seen each other in a while, and in the interim Kate has begun to dabble in the city's goth scene. She wants Annie to join her, but you can't take a white-bread girl like Annie to a goth club, so they go shopping for some suitable accessories. At the cash register, the clerk gives the girls an invitation to a Scorpion Society party that night. Kate's stoked, because the Scorpion Society's parties are just about the coolest and most exclusive thing a goth can get invited to.

No matter how much purple eyeliner you slather on, and how much pleather you swaddle your pasty white butt in, nothing says I DON'T BELONG HERE, PLEASE RAPE ME! like a Midwestern small town girl in a New York City goth club. And sure enough, the girls are singled out for “initiation” by Lord Walechia, which means they get rufied and gang-banged and presumably pregnant with the bastard spawn of a thousand lame dickweeds with top hats and plastic vampire fangs.

Lord Walechia (who wears sparkly, sea foam green eye shadow and looks more like a rather surprised gay birthday clown than a vampire - you have to wonder how even a group of people as dippy as goths willingly follow a guy who is obviously making fun of them) has a special surprise for this evening's buttfuckery. He bought a book off a street vendor, which just happens to be Nick Dread's grimoire, more's the pity for him and his gang of merry morons.

An aside, in a reviewing career that will be remembered, if nothing else, for the asides; there is a vampire briefly glimpsed in this scene whose mama clearly took thalidomide, and he has glued black plastic fingernail claws onto his flipper stumps. This dude is my new hero. No parentheses this time, Thalidomide Vampire deserves his own paragraph.

His reading of the book during the “ceremony” allows Nick's soul to swap places with Annie, who proceeds to slaughter the entire goth club. Interestingly enough, Nick appears to retain his disapproval of the exploitation of innocents, as the thing that truly incites his homicidal rage is the Scorpion Society's mistreatment of the innocent Annie. Dread incites the Society's followers into a rage over their mistreatment by their leaders, who he then kills as his new minions cheer him on...and then he turns on the minions, berating them for being pathetic followers. The movie makes some interesting comparisons between Christians blindly following the church, and goths blindly following whoever knows the most about Morrissey.

Kate begs Dread to give her friend back, and since Dread can see into Annie's mind and doesn't particularly want his kingdom of souls to be full of innocent college girls, he re-hangs himself once the Scorpion Society has been disposed of and sends Annie back. Dread returns to his hedge kingdom, how filled with puling, terrified goths, gets suited up in his goofy burning marshmallow hat and starts poking pudgy, pasty bodies.

There are some interesting themes suggested in this flick, but either JJ Connelly wasn't an experienced enough filmmaker to explore them fully, or people like us just read way too much into our cheap horror movies. I already mentioned some parallels drawn between followers of any creed. Also implied is that God is no better than Satan in the world of the movie. He is at best absent from the proceedings, letting the Inquisition torture and murder innocent people in his name and not doing anything about it. At worst, he's just as much of an ass as Satan, or even more of one. His earthly envoys torture and kill good people for their bloodthirsty master with a disturbing abundance of enthusiasm, but operate under the delusion that they're doing it for good, while Dread murders only evil doers and is fully aware that he operates for the traditionally “evil” side of things and will spend eternity in Hell.

Perhaps God completely turned his back on the Church, whose authority figures will all wind up in Hell, and Dread, while a vocal proponent of Satan, was doing God's work because he was defending innocents and wreaking divine vengeance against the evildoers. In this case, it's entirely possible that the kingdom of souls Dread winds up with at the end is not, in fact, Hell, but his little slice of Heaven, given him by God as his eternal reward for centuries of standing up for the weak and winnowing out evil. Which could also mean that Dread's Heaven is the Scorpion Society's Hell, in an odd metaphysical mixer where the two realms overlap and God kills two birds with one stone. Maybe it's really Satan that's absent from the proceedings, having given up on Dread in disgust long ago when Dread singled out his fellow “evil doers” (in quotations because Dread is, in fact, a good guy). Or perhaps I've just given myself a headache running in logic circles over what really was just an excuse to show titties and fire.

Either way, I'd like to have seen the movie run another ten or twenty minutes, to show what happens after the novelty of poking his subjects with flaming kettle drum mallets wears off, and Dread and his gaggle of goths just sit around staring at each other in awkward silence.

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