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Monday, May 2, 2011

DAHMER VS. GACY -- DVD review by porfle

When I first saw the DVD cover for DAHMER VS. GACY (2011), it seemed as though watching a bloody FREDDY VS. JASON-type horror flick featuring the two notorious serial killers going at it would, at best, go beyond "guilty pleasure" into actual hate-myself guilt.  What I didn't suspect is that it would turn out to be an all-out screwball comedy, and that I'd end up wishing it actually was the relatively straight, though somewhat tongue-in-cheek horror flick I'd envisioned in the first place.

The main reason for this, to put it simply, is that the movie isn't all that funny.  Not that cinematic jack-of-all-trades Ford Austin isn't trying--not only does he play two of the lead roles, but he also directs with the manic hyperactivity of a deranged Tex Avery, wielding the screenplay like a blunt instrument and trying to beat the funny into our skulls.  Unfortunately, most of what passes for humor here consists of wacky caricatures endlessly screaming incredibly graphic profanity at each other and engaging in grotesque slapstick atrocities that would make John Waters reach for the Tums. 

Austin plays Jeffrey Dahmer, or actually his clone, created during a secret government project designed to bring the worst serial killers back from the dead as super soldiers for the military.  Naturally, Dahmer escapes along with John Wayne Gacy (Randal Malone, playing the role like a watered-down version of Divine) and the two maniacs start murdering their way across the country until they finally run into each other and battle it out for serial-killer supremacy.  Also getting into the act is a drunken redneck named Ringo (also played by Austin) who's haunted by the voice of God (Harland Williams) talking to him through his household appliances and ordering him to go after the killers himself.

Sight gags and random comedy sketches come flying at us like confetti out of a wind tunnel and some of them can't help but be amusing now and then, especially when a local news show interrupts the action with updates featuring gorgeous serial-killer groupies and zoned-out eyewitnesses (including SLEEPAWAY CAMP's Felissa Rose).  The film opens promisingly as an author being interviewed by the news anchor gets murdered on air while ridiculous entertainment-news items scroll along the bottom of the screen.  Familiar character actor Art LaFleur then makes a welcome but all-too-brief appearance as a scientist drafted into the ill-fated cloning project before it goes haywire.

Bonnie Aarons tries her best to dredge the funny out of her role as vulture-like, cigar-chomping General Arbogast, who coordinates the search for the killers.  As project leader Dr. Stravinski, Peter Zhmutski is a retake or two away from a decent performance.  Austin himself is hit-and-miss as Ringo, earning a few chuckles during his battle with some ninjas (don't ask) and a frantic phone call to a prayer hotline for advice (Colby Veil is funny as the laconic operator).  But aside from a few bright spots, this character gets tiresome pretty fast. 

Former Munchkin Jerry Maren turns up in a vignette in which Gacy, in full clown regalia, harasses a midget street mime before killing him.  Maren sets the general tone of the dialogue here by spewing extreme profanities meant to shock us into laughter.  Dahmer is then shown luring a shaggy-haired barfly into a basement with drugs, forcing him to perform fellatio on him, and then gleefully raping his corpse while drilling blood-spewing holes in his head with a power drill. 

This doesn't even sound funny in print, so it's hard to imagine who the heck thought it would translate into giggles and yucks onscreen.  As with an earlier scene in which a bum fishes a live rat out of a dumpster and chows down on it in extreme closeup, it's the cinematic equivalent of someone taking an unusual-looking dump and then summoning his friends into the bathroom to see it.

Things come to a head when Dahmer, Gacy, and Ringo end up in the same room and the film goes into cartoon-chaos overdrive with all the fast-motion, zippy editing, and violent slapstick buffoonery that director Austin can throw at us.  What it all amounts to mainly is a bunch of blood-splattered mugging and mindless action punctuated by moments of graphic gore as the titans of terror alternately wrestle (Gacy sits on Dahmer's face, Dahmer bites him in the ass) and threaten each other with insults that are outlandishly vile enough to get them tossed out of a Tourette's convention.  In the midst of all this, X-13, a super-super serial killer clone designed to defeat them (Ethan Phillips of "Star Trek: Voyager") shows up and throws his two cents into the mix.  With all this stuff going on, the best bit is when a gay neighbor shows up with some housewarming tarts.

The DVD from Virgil Films & Entertainment is in 16:9 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 sound.  There are no extras. 

While fleeting flashes of funny bubble up from this dense, desperate epileptic seizure of a film, most of DAHMER VS. GACY comes off like a bad improv comedy troup on speed performing an autopsy on a fat guy while screaming insults at his mom.  Even if you enjoyed the outrageous antics of Divine and her disgusting brood in John Waters' PINK FLAMINGOS, this may be enough to make you feel like hosing off your DVD player after watching it.  Then again, if it sounds like your kind of movie--go for it!

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1 comment:

Jake Belcher said...

I enjoyed D vs G. So much so that I have seen in multiple times now. I think there were some better performances than you are giving credit for. Randall Malone is creepy, gross, malevolent and all around excellent. The "shaggy-haired barfly" was G N’ R drummer Steven Adler, which I thought was hilariously well done. Lastly on the performances tip, to not even mention the work the Austin does as Dahmer is halfway criminal. The "ridiculous entertainment-news items scroll along the bottom of the screen." are very funny. My only real complaint was lack of boobs. Boobs always make every movie better.