Sunday, 20 October 2013



And the faux-grindhouse schtick still hobbles along: movies deliberately and styled to look utterly terrible while missing the point completely. If Machete and its sequel are films that look (and indeed are) too good to be part of the genre they're celebrating even at its best, this is merely a pin-sharp copy of the thoroughly terrible flipside: a painfully accurate reproduction of a barely watchable piece of zero-budget garbage. The only question is whether director Richard Griffin is a superbly talented filmmaker who has spent months, maybe years, toiling ceaselessly away at making his movie look shoddy, fourth-rate and amateurish, or whether he is genuinely incompetent and this is actually the best film he could ever possibly make. Frankly the jury is out on that one.

Insofar as The Disco Exorcist has any kind of a plot beyond an endless succession of ugly sex scenes, nondescript disco dances and occasional crass globs of gore, it concerns a long-haired lothario who dumps his present squeeze when a porn star arrives on the scene. But his ex is a witch and she promptly puts a hex on them which leads to several bloody deaths. Only the cleaner at the disco, a failed exorcist (and, for no reason beyond a gratuitous attempt at bad taste humour, a paedophile), can save them....

Again, it hardly seems worth the effort to point out that The Disco Exorcist is wretched rubbish: it's designed that way. The whole film has been given that scratchy effect to make it look like a knackered 16mm film print, a gimmick that even Tarantino and Rodriguez' grindhouse tributes drop after a couple of minutes because even they know that it gets annoying after a while (unless you're genuinely watching a 40-year-old print that's been regularly screened); the dialogue is terrible, the comedy isn't close to even mildly amusing, the acting is barely a step up from speaking out loud, and it has the grubby, ugly look of vintage porn loops. But what's the point of that? Why the hell would anyone deliberately set out to make a film that's visually revolting, atrociously performed and astonishingly boring? Never mind what it does for cinema or movies, what can it possibly do for your career to make a film with production values so non-existent it makes Two Thousand Maniacs look like Avatar?

It's simply not the case that making a movie in the seventies style means it has to look, or be, terrible. Ti West's House Of The Devil is an evocation of that age so immaculately detailed you'd swear it was a genuine product of the age, from the jeans and hairstyles down to the font of the credits, but it doesn't need to bother with the print damage effect or the rubbish non-acting. Quality will shine through anyway - I first saw Taxi Driver in a bleached and battered print in such terrible condition Martin Scorsese's director credit never actually appeared, but it's such a stunning film the jumps and colour imbalances simply didn't matter - and the lack of quality is dizzyingly visible underneath the post-production grain effect. The Disco Exorcist is tedious, tiresome and without any kind of merit, and the misapplied retro stylings can't disguise the pointlessness of the whole worthless enterprise. Whether the genius in charge is a hopeless idiot, or just very good at pretending to be a hopeless idiot, scarcely matters. Distressingly for humanity, there appears to be a sequel in the works.


No comments: