Last year, heavy metal rock star Glenn Danzig debuted his film Verotika at the Cinepocalypse film festival in Chicago and didn't quite get the reaction he intended. The audience reportedly had a rowdy time taking in the picture, which was widely regarded as awful in the most entertaining way imaginable. It was dubbed another Plan 9 from Outer Space, another The Room. You know, one of those movies so bad that it takes on a perverse sense of entertainment. Film Twitter (as it's known) went abuzz with talk about the film, which is now available on VOD.
Whatever you may have heard about Verotika, good or bad, is true. All of it.
Danzig's movie is a horror anthology, hosted by a bizarre figure named Morella (Kayden Kross) who, in what quickly becomes a motif, is supposed to look sexy and scary at the same time. She introduces three separate...well, I hesitate to call them “stories” because that word implies coherence. Vaguely formed ideas, maybe?
The first, “The Albino Spider of Dajette,” is about a woman (Ashley Wisdom) with eyeballs where her nipples should be. No explanation is ever given for her condition, nor does she utilize it in any manner. Regardless, her tears fall on a white spider, causing it to morph into a muscular human/spider hybrid that goes on a killing spree, slashing and hacking beautiful models. Everyone in the segment speaks in a thick, exaggerated French accent for no apparent reason. None of this has anything to do with the eyeball-nipples, so their inclusion is a fascinating mystery.
Segment two is “Change of Face.” Facially disfigured stripper “Mystery Girl” (Rachel Alig) cuts off the faces of other women to wear during her performances. Given that she wears a veil onstage, we are left to wonder why she bothers doing this. It's a lot of work for something no one will see. Then again, such is the magic of Verotika.
The third segment is the most gloriously perplexing. It's called “Drukija Contessa of Blood,” and it follows a contessa (Alice Tate) who drinks the blood of virgins or rubs it all over her face and body. That's literally all that happens. No story exists here, just one scene after another of her smearing blood on herself. The shots go on for so long that you can't stop laughing.
Verotika is absorbing in its ineptitude. Danzig has a tendency to end every scene with an awkward fade-out. There are unintentionally funny moments, as when a group of cops gently bash a door with a battering ram before it suddenly shatters. The dialogue is hilarious; a woman goes to a porno theater and loudly exclaims, “This film – it's only people making sex!” Sets are cheap, with harsh lighting that emphasizes their artificiality.
Clearly, Danzig's intent was to pay homage to giallo filmmakers like Dario Argento and Mario Bava. He attempts to mimic their signature touches. However, this is the work of someone who has seen a lot of movies but doesn't understand the mechanics of them. Verotika lacks style, tone, atmosphere, and storytelling competence. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, yet it can also be a quick way of revealing one's own shortcomings. Merely aping his influences doesn't provide Danzig's work with their artistic qualities. Quite the opposite, in fact.
If nothing else, Verotika is an unfiltered peek into its creator's id. The combination of constant female nudity and graphic gory violence is pervasive, suggesting a rather dark fetish. Danzig has made the movie with passion and sincerity, though, and that's what makes it kind of fun, especially if viewed in a group. Sure, on any conventional level it's terrible. Even so, I can't shake the feeling that it would suffer if it was more skillfully made. The inexplicable choices and illogical elements give the film a hypnotic vibe.
Verotika is a thoroughly baffling work that has to be seen to be believed. And aficionados of movies that are crazy-town banana-pants absolutely should see it.
Verotika is unrated, but contains mind-boggling amounts of nudity, sexuality, and graphic bloody violence. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.