Friday 10 April 2020

Movie Review: VEROTIKA (2019)

Verotika is the first movie to be directed by Glenn Danzig and is based on his Horror comics of the same name. Being a big fan of Danzig's music, solo and Misfits, I've been interested in checking this out.

Since Verotika's extremely limited cinema release last year, I've read many reviews and most of them said the same thing. It's a badly written, badly acted set of short stories that go nowhere, but are entertaining for all the wrong reasons. As you may know, I'm a big Horror fan, and almost every movie that I love has been panned by the critics, so I've been keeping an open mind.


Having finally seen it, I understand where the reviewers were coming from. However, I found myself quite enjoying it in a few places, but disappointed for the most part. Verotika is certainly very different to everything else out there, and in that way it's undeniably refreshing. However, regardless of how entertaining it may or may not be, there's no getting away from the fact that it's a car crash.

The cast is mostly female and I'd guess that the majority of them, if not all, are predominantly porn stars or strippers. I know how misogynistic that sounds, but I'll be surprised if you disagree with me on this after seeing the film. The acting is as amateur as it gets, and the gratuitous nudity is relentless. 

The whole thing is very low budget. That dreadful font at the start rang alarm bells. There's some CGI here and there and it's poor, like the kind you see in £1 DVDs of movies shot in the 90's.

It starts with a short scene introducing Morella who is like the Crypt Keeper of the movie. She kicks off the film by poking out someone's eyes, before presenting the first instalment of Verotika. Arguably she's the best character in the movie, and is played by the most convincing actress too. She's wearing one of those tops where you can see her boobs, but I'm sure it's because the character is empowered or something.

The Albino Spider of Dajette is a strange story. It starts off with a young couple getting it on, but the woman, who incidentally has had so much plastic surgery she looks a bit like a fish, gets upset when her lover tries to take her top off. He's a bit of a knob and rips it off anyway, and sees that she has extra eyes where her nipples should be. Disgusted by this, he storms off. Upset by his insensitivity, she starts to cry from her tits. Some of the tears drop onto a spider, and now this spider turns into a giant spider dude whenever she falls asleep. Are you still with me?

Oh, before I forget, all of the 'actors' have extremely unconvincing French accents. Anyway, the spider dude kills one of the woman's friends before going outside. He then tells a prostitute that he wants to "fuck her in the ass" before breaking her neck. The woman from the start goes to a cinema showing a sex film, where she falls asleep and some men start touching her up. She wakes up and leaves. Why the fuck did she go there, especially when she was so tired and her mate had just been murdered? Don't know. Eventually, she goes home, phones the police, and overdoses on tablets. The police turn up, find her body and see the spider dude standing over her and shoot the fucker.

Prior to shooting him, one of the police officers shouts at the Spider guy to get his hands off her neck, even though she's on the floor and his hands are nowhere near her. It's as though the script doesn't fit what's actually happening. This kind of poor directing is rife throughout, sadly.

The story was flawed, the acting was shit, the dialogue was ropey, and the special effects were cheap. Weirdly enough, I quite enjoyed it. I'm still trying to work out why. I think it's partly because Danzig is trying something that should need a way bigger budget and isn't allowing himself to be restricted by that. His imagination is running wild, and if he wants a demonic, neck-breaking, over-sexed spider dude, God-damn it, he's going to have one!

Change of Face is the second story and is about a woman who cuts off other women's faces and wears them to cover up her own brutally scarred visage. The dialogue is even more unbelievable and silly in this one! The killer, known as Mystery Girl, also works in a strip club. Thinking about it, most of this segment of Verotika is just footage of lap dancers doing their thing. And yes, one of them does pole-dance to a Danzig song. Back to the story, a rude cartoonish police man is hot on the trail of the murderess. He ends up at the club and follows her into a dark room. She creeps up behind him and cuts his face before disappearing, leaving him shouting about how he's going to "get her".

Six months later, the murderess we've come to know as Mystery Girl is doing the same job, but now is being introduced under the name Mysteria. I assume it's supposed to be a different club in a different city, although it looks like it was filmed at the same place. And that's it. There's no twist and no real ending. I was hoping for a pay-off, but I feel as empty as one of those guys who's thrown hundreds of dollars at a dancer then just went home.

Drukija Contessa of Blood is the final story, if you can call it that. It's basically a take on the myth of Countess Bathory bathing in the blood of virgins. We see Drukija buying a peasant girl off her mother and taking her back to her castle. There are loads of other girls there, all in robes and seeming unconcerned about their predicament. We then cut to a scene where the peasant girl is bled out over a gothic-looking bath, and Drukija takes her sweet time bathing and licking the blood from her victims' arms. Another girl is dragged in and has her throat slit, spurting blood into Drukija's face and into the already full bath. What was the point of that? There's blood everywhere anyway, you wasteful drama queen! Anyway, she kills a few more young girls, preens a lot, and at the end beheads a girl after telling her she's going to drink her blood. However, she walks off with her decapitated head, leaving all the blood to pour over the floor. The 'story' ends with her wandering into a room with loads of heads on the wall. She sits on a fancy looking chair and holds the head up whilst looking very pleased with herself.

So there we have it. No clever twists like in the Twilight Zone or Creepshow, just art student amateur Horror that doesn't make a huge amount of sense and leaves you feeling that Danzig missed more than a few tricks. Thinking about it, there were no tricks at all. No real character development, just shoddy sex and violence. The worst part isn't the extremely bad editing, but the unforgivable continuity errors that litter the movie. Was it laziness, ineptitude, or a lack of caring? My money is on ineptitude.

Glenn Danzig is known for his massive ego, and I can't imagine him hiring help with script writing or bringing on board anyone who could help him to bring his visions to life in a slicker, more professional way.

Despite the landslide of negative reviews Verotika has received, Danzig has already announced that he's working on his next movie. Unless he learns heavily from the criticism he has received and pulls some serious magic out of the bag (and some more money too), I can't see anyone but his most die-hard fans (including me) and a minority of very easily pleased Horror fans giving it any of their time.


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