• Verotika (Cleopatra) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cleopatra Records
    Released on: March 17th, 2020.
    Director: Glenn Danzig
    Cast: Ashley Wisdom, Rachel Alig, Alice Tate, Kayden Kross, Scotch Hopkins, Sean Kanan, Natalia Borowsky, Kansas Bowling
    Year: 2019
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    Verotika – Movie Review:

    Based on the anthology comic book series of the same name, published by Glenn Danzig’s Verotik imprint, 2019’s Verotika, which would be Danzg’s directorial debut, is, like the content that inspired it, an anthology of sorts, dealing in ‘violent erotica.’ Clearly inspired by the works of European filmmakers like Larraz, Argento, Bava, Fulci and Rollin, it was made with more passion than money, and it was regarded as a fairly bad movie when it screened last year. Is it as goofy as its early reputation would have you believe? Yep!

    A woman is bound to a wall. A second woman, with horns and upside-down crosses on her face, comes towards her and then plucks out her eyes. She introduces herself as Morella (Kayden Kross) and welcomes us to Verotika. Cue the opening credits.

    The first story is The Albino Spiders Of Dajette. It is set in France and when it begins, a woman with pink hair is blowing a guy on a couch, they’re both unaware that a poorly digitized spider is crawling nearby, as they moan and groan together. He tries to take her shit off and she protests but eventually he gets his way and is shocked, understandably so, to find that her nipples are actually eyeballs. This woman’s name is Dajette (Ashley Wisdom). Her friend Mariel arrives just after the dude runs away, terrified. After Mariel takes off, the spider morphs into a humanoid (Scotch Hopkins) and talks to her about how only he truly loves her and how she needs to let him be real. Then the spider man heads down the hall and strangles Mariel. Dajette is distraught to find her friend dead and she pleads with the spider man to leave her alone but instead of does some sort of mind meld with her. Elsewhere, a beautiful blonde streetwalker talks to a man she assumes to be a trick hiding in the shadows. It is, of course, the spider man, and he wants to fuck her in the ass and hear her neck snap! Was it a dream? Dajette wakes up at a photo shoot, screaming. She sees on the news that the murder was not a dream, and she tells the other models that she was to blame. Dajette walks away, muttering to herself how she has to stay away, and goes to a screening of ‘Les Nue Sans Visage’ which turns out to be a porno movie, the audience comprised of three horny dudes. In the theater she falls asleep and the guys get grabby, waking her up and ruining the spider man’s latest rape conquest. Dajette stops at a café for black coffee. When she gets home, she calls the police to report a murder…

    Bad acting and even worse ‘French’ accents highlight the goofy first story. The cinematography isn’t bad, and the use of color is pretty strong, the story definitely shows a strong Italian horror influence in this regard. Fake boobs and fake lips are the order of the day. Dajette’s rack is ridiculous, the eye nipple thing a genuinely bizarre inclusion and one that seemingly doesn’t add anything to the story? It’s odd. The spider man is kind of funny looking and overacts a lot, but then, he’s a dream demon of sorts so maybe it makes sense that this would be the case. Also, that CGI spider is pretty God damn ridiculous. This is entertaining enough, but it goes on longer than it needed to and woooo….. those accents. Those accents are not good. Not good at all.

    Morella returns and then introduces the second story, Change Of Face. A woman walks through a cavern calling out to another woman holding a knife – the one with the knife wants the other’s face. And she gets it. Cut to a strip club where strippers do some stripping to some bad chooch rock. The DJ introduces ‘the mystery’ girl (Rachel Alig) and a woman with her face covered wearing a cape comes out and dances to some Danzig’s ‘Eyes Ripping Fire.’ Cut again to a team of cops examining the crime scene where the woman had her face ripped off (watch carefully and notice that the corpse is visibly breathing) – they are, understandably, confused. In a secluded room later that night we learn that, shockingly, ‘the mystery girl’ is the murderess and that she collects faces to wear over her own, which is horribly scared with what look like burn marks. From there, the killer goes after another woman, cutting her face off as well. The cops find a business card for ‘the mystery girl’ with the name of the club on it and Sgt. Anders (Sean Kanan) heads over to investigate…

    Half of the running time of this one is made up of stripping. There’s a lot of stripping in this story – some of it good, some of it not good. But if quantity over quality is your thing, you’ll dig it. This is the most ridiculously entertaining story of the three, thanks in no small part of the performance of the guy who plays Anderson, the amazing Sean Kanan. He growls and scowls his way through the film with some wonderfully stilted line delivery, his showdown with the mystery girl sheer bad movie bliss. There are some okay practical effects bits here, though the face cutting scene isn’t even close to convincing. There are lots of partially nude tattooed ladies in here too.

    Morella returns again to introduce Drukija, Contessa Of Blood. It opens with a beautiful woman clad in a head dress smearing her face with blood. We cut to her past where we learn it’s a medieval period piece, and that she doesn’t like bras. She and her men ride past a CGI castle to a barn where she’s addressed by the peasant woman (Caroline Williams) who live there as ‘Contessa’ (Alice Tate). The woman gives her virgin daughter (Kansas Bowling) to Contessa in exchange for a gold coin. The virgin is brought to the castle and handed over to the Contessa’s right hand woman, Sheska (Natalia Borowsky), to be trained, prepared and cleaned up to be put among the other girls. We then see the Contessa inspecting a half dozen pretty blonde maidens only to select the one who she just purchased from the lady in the barn. She’s then stripped and bound to a giant rib cage with a goat skull on top, her body hanging in a tub below, filled with blood. The Contessa hops in the top with her and drinks some of the blood from her plaything’s slit wrists. Sheska brings another girl down for the Contessa, who slits her throat and baths in her blood. Why does she do all of this? To retain her youthful beauty, of course. And then, hey look, a wolf!

    More bad accents in this one, though they’re eastern European and not French. This one does have some interesting, if clearly low budget, set design and some high-quality arterial spray but, again, some of the acting is… not good. It’s also interesting to note that the Contessa’s main outfit is clearly made of some sort of translucent PVC material, which maybe isn’t period appropriate. To her credit, she looks good in it and fills it out nicely, but it adds to the already high degree of silliness on display here. Also, her head dress looks like a leftover prop from a GWAR concert. Bonus points for including an actual live wolf in this story. But then, if Danzig had made a movie and not included a wolf it would have been just plain wrong. There’s a neat scene here where the Contessa rips out a woman’s heart and chews on it a bit, but the very large and painfully obvious silicone appliance on her victim’s breast kind of takes away from it all. Oh, and the disembodied head that Contessa wanders around with at the end is great for all the wrong reasons.

    And of course, Morella shows up to say goodbye before it is all over. For no reason, really. While it’s all well and good to cast the truly lovely Kayden Kross in your movie, these segments don’t go anywhere. They don’t tie into any of the three stories, they don’t give us any background on this character, they simply exist to have a horror hostess involved in the production. This would be fine if it accomplished anything, but it almost seems like these were tossed in as an afterthought.

    Danzig clearly tried here, I don’t want to crap on something that someone clearly put a lot of work into and that clearly meant a lot to the person making it, but a little more effort into telling coherent stories would have gone a long way. We can forgive the bad CGI and some of the low budget gaffes and we can forgive some of the bad acting. Hell, we can even forgive those ‘French’ accents in the first story. But in order to do that, we need something more and we just don’t get it here. As it stands, this is amusing, but mostly for all the wrong reasons. It is occasionally charmingly dumb, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually any good.

    Verotika – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer looks good for a film obviously made on a low budget. There are some minor compression artifacts, but color reproduction is genuinely strong for most of the picture. Black levels are pretty good as well. Detail isn’t quite reference quality but for a film made for less than a zillion dollars, it looks pretty good, sometimes revealing too much. Either way, it’s a perfectly nice-looking high definition presentation.

    Audio options are provided in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound options, with removable subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 mix is pretty solid. Lossless would have been ideal but that didn’t happen. Still, there’s good channel separation here. The score is spread out well as are some of the sound effects. Dialogue is generally pretty easy to follow, though some of the ‘French’ accents in the first story are a bit garbled. The subtitles contain some amusing typos – at one point ‘stirring’ is translated as ‘g-string!’

    Extras are limited to a one-minute trailer for the feature and a three-minute still gallery (which contains some neat pictures of Danzig and his cast and crew at work). Motion menus are also included. As this is a combo pack, we also get a DVD version of the movie as well as a bonus CD containing the entire soundtrack for the picture. Cleopatra also include a slipcover to fancy up the packaging a bit.

    The lack of a Danzig commentary seems like a big omission here!

    Verotika – The Final Word:

    Verotika is a bit of a mess, really, but it’s an entertainingly well-intentioned mess to be sure. Danzig’s heart was clearly in the right place, pulling from some important influences and obviously trying to put in the effort to get things right. It might be a swing and a miss, but there’s something charming about the ridiculousness of it all. Cleopatra’s Blu-ray release looks fine and sounds decent enough but is light on extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized Verotika Blu-ray screen caps, if you dare!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Newt Cox's Avatar
      Newt Cox -
      Got this pre-ordered. Should be at my home in a few days I figure.
    1. MondoCane's Avatar
      MondoCane -
      I saw this. It was utter crap and I barely made it through.

      There are good bad movies, and there are bad, terrible bad movies. This one falls in the latter, imo
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      Quote Originally Posted by MondoCane View Post
      I saw this. It was utter crap and I barely made it through.

      There are good bad movies, and there are bad, terrible bad movies. This one falls in the latter, imo
      It's spectacularly bad on every level: direction, photography, script, acting, editing, effects. I found the first two segments hilarious, the third made me want to go into a coma. He has some decent actors in his next one, hopefully it will be better than the porno level acting here.