Thursday, March 19, 2020

Glenn Danzig’s Verotika

There have been a few films based on Glenn Danzig’s ultra-mature horror comic, Verotik, including the adults-only Grub Girl. That would be the higher quality, more socially redeeming movie. This is the other one. Danzig himself helms an anthology of three “greatest hits” stories and does quite a job of it with the already notorious Verotika, which is now available on VOD.

At least the explicit naughty bits in Grub presumably served the purpose for which they were intended. Just what Danzig was going for is beyond mortal understanding. The sleazy bafflement starts with “The Albino Spider of Dajette.” Poor Dajette is a fetish model with eyeballs on her breasts, who develops a nightmarish psychic connection with a pale spider monster.  Supposedly, it is set in Paris, but the city never looked so cheap and dingy. Honestly, you will hear better fake French accents in a Le Pain Quotidien in Paramus, New Jersey.

The worst part of “Albino Spider” is it is probably the best story of Verotika, but it won’t feel that way at the time, because it comes first. Next, Danzig uncorks “Change of Face,” his ambitious but smarmy homage to Georges Franju’s Eyes without a Face. A serial killer stalks beautiful women to physically steal their faces. Naturally, she is a stripper, so Danzig can incorporate stripteases into the film, but if that is what you are looking for, an average episode of The Sopranos would be sexier.

For the third and mercifully final installment, Danzig rips off the Elizabeth Bathory legend with “Drukija Countess of Blood,” who does indeed bathe in the blood of virgins to retain her youthful appearance. Considering Danzig and his design team cannot realize a convincing strip club locale, it should come as no surprise the period setting is well beyond their grasp. Yet, “Drukija’s” greatest problem in on the printed pages of the script. Danzig doesn’t even give us a structured narrative here. He just forces us to watch endless examples of the Countess’s brutality.

Problematically, Danzig has no aptitude for sex scenes, clearly because he prefers to depict horrific violence. Even the Vampira-like Morella featured in the between-segment transitions engages in pointless cruelty. Who are these Verotik fans and how can we maintain their social distancing post-Wuhan Virus?

Verotik has already garnered a reputation on the level of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 and Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Danzig is at their level of technical achievement, but his film is much less fun to watch. It has played widely at fantastical film festivals, largely due to Danzig’s fanbase (and perhaps also out of interest in the three or four adult film stars who turn up in small parts—this isn’t their best work), but it does not reward cult film fans’ curiosity. It’s just mean-spirited and ugly looking. Not recommended, Verotika is now available on VOD platforms.