• Venus Flytrap



    Released by: Massacre Video
    Released on: January 13th, 2015.
    Director: T. Michael
    Cast: Steve Malis, Kevin Glover, Michael Capellupo, Kimberly Lablle, Deirdre West
    Year: 1987
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    The Movie:

    When this sixty-three minute low budget obscurity begins, a hippie record store owner (Garth Shaw) is about to close up shop for the night when there’s a knock at the door. He tells the young lady that they’re closed but she wisely namechecks Moby Grape and he begrudgingly lets her in. This girl’s name is B.B. (Darlene Hartwell) and what the store owner doesn’t realize is that she’s not alone – two thugs, tough guy Turk (Steve Malis) and his goofy lapdog Wimp (Michael Capellupo) come in behind her. They beat the poor guy up and tie him up in the back room, unaware that as the door is open another couple wanders in. The redheaded chick, Ginger (Kimberley Kates) slips a cassette tape into her stocking figuring no one is around, while her yuppie boyfriend Danny (Henry Harris) looks around. Turk sees this happen and forces them to take the three toughs the party he finds out they’re headed to. Otherwise, he’s calling the cops on her…

    And so Ginger and Danny, without any real choice, agree. Soon enough, the five of them arrive at the home of Arlene (Deirdre West) and her boyfriend Rod (Kevin Glover). It’s a weird looking place with lots of exotic plants. Here the inhabitants play darts and tend to a small Venus Flytrap. Turk and his crew start nosing around looking for dope while Rod insists everyone indulge in some ‘bubbly’ (he says bubbly over and over again to the point where you may very well want to punch him). Turk figures though that these rich guys have probably got something better hidden around, maybe some coke or something. He forces them to play a game or Russian Roulette and generally makes life a hassle for everyone, harassing the ladies and getting into a punch up with Rod. But are these foppy yuppie types really as innocent as they seem?

    Featuring a story that follows many of the same principals as Ruggero Deodato’s House On The Edge Of The Park, the twist in this one is a bit easy to see coming but the execution is freaky and bizarre enough to make it all worthwhile. Much of the movie’s psychotronic elements stem from the odd relationship that seems to exist between Turk and Wimpy. Curly haired Turk is a man’s man and he just wants to ‘get this party jammin’ and ‘get tweaked’ – he takes what he wants and doesn’t let anyone get in his way. He’s also got a pretty serious potty mouth on him and throws around the words ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ like they’re going out of style. He threatens his way through life with the help of a studded leather glove, the fingers cut off to keep it cool looking, but as to whether or not he’ll actually punch you with it, that remains to be seen. Wimp, on the other hand, is… a wimp. He worships Turk (at one point B.B. says that he looks at Turk like he’s seeing God) but is incapable, so it would seem, of achieving the same level of manliness. He’s got some great Shimmy-Slide dance moves and a laugh that comes straight out of Revenge Of The Nerds, both of which are good qualities, but he’s not the tough guy he aspires to be. He’s not Turk. At one point Turk decides, after seeing Wimp defeated in a game of ‘strip darts,’ that he’ll dole out some justice of his own by forcing Wimp to man up and take Ginger. Turk rips off her clothes and throws her to the ground and then throws Wimp on top of him, grabbing the back of his belt and pumping him up and down on top of her in some weird ritual of real manliness. Of course, Wimp can’t perform, which leads everyone, Ginger included, to assume that he must be gay. This type of ‘huh?’ logic is common throughout the course of the movie.

    On top of that, the movie offers up pretty ample amounts of sleaze, if not much in the way of gory effects. Each of the three ladies in the movie gets down to their birthday suit at some point, and hey, we even get some unexpected full frontal male nudity thrown in for good measure. The constant trash talking by Turk adds an element of nastiness and political incorrectness to everything that makes some fairly stilted acting and limited sets and production values easy to overlook. There are also a couple of unexpected ‘taboo busting’ moments in here that you probably won’t see coming, all of which is done intentionally as an effort to combat the film’s lack of effects with a more visceral, sleazy sense of horror. It actually works quite well and while this won’t likely convert those that don’t already get a kick out of screwy low budget SOV material, for those who do appreciate such material this is a must see.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Venus Flytrap makes its worldwide DVD debut from Massacre Video in a transfer taken from the original 1 inch master tape presented in the movie’s original fullframe aspect ratio. The quality here is better than you might expect for a low budget, shot on video production fast approaching its thirtieth birthday (Betacam did offer better quality than Betamax or VHS so that’s probably got something to do with it). Colors are well produced and appropriately garish in spots and black levels aren’t bad either. Detail can only get so good when working with source material like this, you’d have to be a bonehead to expect HD quality from an analogue source, but this is definitely way more than watchable so long as you go in with your expectations in check.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track, there are no alternate language or subtitles options provided. There are a few spots here where the levels jump a bit – the screaming during the rape scene and the moaning during the subsequent sex scene probably had my neighbors wondering what was going on in my apartment – but outside of that the audio is fine. The score sounds pretty good, most of the dialogue is plenty clear (a few shots are a little muffled but that’s not a common problem) and again, considering the technology used to make the movie, the DVD sounds fine.

    The main extra is a commentary track with producers/actors Kevin Glover and Steve Malis, who offer up a fascinating ‘warts and all’ expose on the making of this oddly compelling movie. They talk about how they worked together early on to create this as a showcase to highlight their acting skills, what it was like working with director ‘T. Michael’ and how all the interior bits were shot on a set with the pool and Jacuzzi scenes having been shot elsewhere. There’s a fair bit of talk here about the toils and tribulations of having to finish a film on a small budget, some of the problems that they came into during the shoot with the director and of course, how and why some of the movie’s more ‘extreme content’ was handled on set. They also address the bizarre perceived homophobia in the film. It’s a pretty active track that sheds some welcome (and much needed) light on the history of Venus Flytrap. Oh, and they also talk about where the glove came from!

    Glover also pops up in a seventeen minute long video interview in which he talks about his involvement in the film, followed by a thirteen minute video interview with Malis. Glover’s piece again discusses raising money for the film and shooting conditions, Malis is keen on talking about how he feels about the picture and the subsequent effects it had on his career. Rounding out the extras on the disc are trailers for upcoming Massacre Video releases Mr. No Legs, Six Pack That Bitch and Nick Palumbo’s silicone boob-filled slasher Nutbug, menus and chapter selection. An Easter Egg can also be found on the disc by those willing to explore a little bit.

    Glover also contributes a set of liner notes included as an insert booklet inside the DVD case. He covers some of the same ground as he does in the commentary and interview but also expresses his admiration for the fan following that the movie has developed over the years and his appreciation for the special edition DVD release it has now received.

    The Final Word:

    Massacre Video have done a fine job bringing Venus Flytrap to DVD for the first time anywhere in the known universe and have thankfully made the effort to perverse the movie’s odd history by way of some interesting extras too. The movie itself will no doubt take some viewers by surprise – it’s not the gory SOV horror picture you might expect, but it’s definitely ripe with sleaze and the sort of ‘what the fuck?’ elements that make movies like this so interesting in the first place.