Danzig’s EVIL Stank All Over This One! “Verotika” reviewed! (Blu-ray, DVD, CD / Cleopatra Entertainment)


Three sordid, macabre tales straight from the controversial pages of Glenn Danzig’s Verotik comic line that slips into the surreal lurid dimension of obscure stories of a subconscious half-human, half-spider manifestation with a sexual appetite and a morbid desire to break the necks of women of the night, of a disfigured and mysteriously alluring stripper who seeks out beautiful women nightly to crudely remove their faces with a knife and overlay their once perfect skin on top of her face as she adds them to her collection of facial distinctions, and, lastly, of a bloodthirsty medieval countess known to her subjects for exquisite beauty and grace emanated by the blood baths of her virginal female subjects.

Legendary metal musician and songwriter Glenn Danzig has been a symbolic (Anti-)God that inspired other metal bands and fans over for more than 40 years, birthing perhaps the original, and still more popular, horror-goth punk bands to ever set the black lit stage, the Misfits in the late 1970’s. Outside his illustrious musical career, Danzig owns Verotik, a comic book publisher, that’s a portmanteau derived from “violent” and “erotic,” geared toward adult-themed material and inspired by his fascination with horror. In comes “Verotika,” a three short film anthological horror feature penned by Danzig and is his director debut while in collaboration with powerhouse musical recording label, Cleopatra Records, under their cinema label, Cleopatra Entertainment. Co-producing alongside Danzig is James Cullen Bressack, whose heavily been the created force behind the affectional indie found footage horror “2 Jennifer” and “From Jennifer” films, and Bressack associating collaborator, Jarrett Furst.

Keeping with the “Verotika’s” motif of scantily cladded women and the elements of horror, each story is driven by a female lead portrayed by actress who’ve established themselves with a scream queen presence, have enter the entertainment industry by way of X-rated programming, or are fresh faced with the presumptive hypothesis that the role secured was for their voluptuous assets. Ashley Wisdom is one of those endowed actresses that fit the latter category. The Instagram model and fling of Glenn Danzig becomes a shoe in for the lead of Dajette in the first segment, “The Albino Spider of Dajette.” Wisdom’s cringing faux French accent and rigid manner doesn’t wholly dilute from her bustier attributes that include prosthetic eyeballs for nipples – all part of Dajette’s character – and fairs better than Scotch Hopkins’s (“2 Jennifer”) absurd Albino Spider of grim free verse prospects inside a stiff, stingy mockery of a humoresque spider. Optimistically, the episodes only go up from her with the following tale ”Change of Face” that follows mystery girl, “12/12/12’s” Rachel Alig, hunting down and slashing off the faces of beautiful women for her collection. Alig is a palpable psychopath amongst a sea of overzealous, conventional orchestrated character types that sells a noir, or hints at a giallo, loom that sensualizes as well as sexualizes a salacious one-person schismatic view of beauty. However, the grand finale saves the best for last with Verotik’s more diabolical and foundational brutal transgressors, Drukija: The Countessa of Blood. Without so much of a setup or without expositional bookends that dive into backstory, conflict blossoming, or even resolution, Drukija’s a voyeuristic chronicle that exhibits the day in a life of a abhorrent ruler soaked in virgin blood with Australian actress Alice Tate fulfilling Drukija’s iron spike studded crown. Numerous scenes linger with Tate just bathing in blood or checking her sangre-moisturized skin in a three-way mirror to just extenuate the picking and choosing of daughtered victims, gleaming of deity-hood inside the eye’s of her maniacal maiden hand, and, in her spare time, amasses decapitated heads of the slaughtered young women as keepsakes. Yet, Kayden Kross dignifies that porn stars can get into the silver screen market, well, at least in Danzig’s irregular one. The director and starlet filmmaker hosts an outer edge story as the witchy-gowned and demonically unholy Morella who introduces each segment in between. Sean Kenan (“My Trip Back to the Dark Side”), Natalia Borowsky, Emma Gradin, with special cameo appearances by Caroline Williams (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre II”), Courtney Stodden, and a number of women from the porn circuit like Kross, such as Bobbi Dylan, Katrina Jade, Emma Hix, Aalyiha Hadid, and Veronica Ricci.

I’m all for the forging of industry realms when comic meet the big screen with adaptation and love Verotik’s edgy eroticism and hyper-violence mantra, but “Verotika’s” pulpy irregular narrative meter coursed a perplexing devolved sojourn through our visual cortex, leading us pleading for a bigger, better version of Danzig’s auteur dreamscapes. Verotik’s a fire and brimstone optical narrative from the illustrated pages that speak volumes of profligate and vivid avant-garde characters and unlimited violence that tremendously lose that tailor-made authenticity when translated to the screen. Danzig’s free-form script works with music symbiotically; for together, the strums and riffs glue together disassociating dialogue to a unison of harmonics, even if Danzig’s prefers harsher rock melodies. For the musician’s first dance with directing, Danzig deserves props creating a gory, pulpy, and colorful piece of his subsequent profession. Yet, there’s always room for improvement in his technique, such as Danzig’s fascination with the zoom feature on the camera. The edit cut is almost too rough for swallow with no segue equilibrium between shots that result in some obvious cue acting and I’m usually a fan of Vincent Guaustini’s work, but his Albino Spider suit, in which the other four arms out of the three sets were fastened together, rolled back years of good effects work.

True to form, Cleopatra Entertainment offers a staggering release for Glenn Danzig’s “Verotika” in a triple-format Blu-ray/DVD/CD release distributed by MVDVisual. For this review, the Blu-ray was covered and the transfer is released in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, shot on an Arri Alexa anamorphic lens camera. The enormity of color schemes offers a wide variety of tints, especially in “The Albino Spider of Dajette,” but revert to more a natural tone for “Change of Face” and “Drukija: Countess of Blood” with stable details inside and outside the black. Slightly hazy (or maybe just smokey?) at times, but the 1080 does too good of a job to see all the nonexistent pores on the ripped off faces in “Change of Face.” The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound audio mix that, again, has a lossy quality from Cleopatra Entertainment, a sub-label of a major music recording company. The surround faintly register ambient audiophiles inside the channels whereas Danzig’s rock solid and eclectic soundtrack offers more, just a notch more, LFE oomph quality to boost into all areas. The CD renders around the same lossy quality. Bonus features include a trailer, a slideshow, and, of course, the compact disc featuring a new track from Danzig and also features tracks by Ministry, Pink Velvet, Studio 69, and Switchblade Symphony. Like a bizarro “Red Shoes Diaries'” episode, “Verotika” bares no shortage of nudity that’s interlocked with well-nigh arbitrary violence spread-eagled in a gnarled cinema anthology of surreality that lied festering inside Glenn Danzig’s head.

3 Disc Danzig! “Verotika” on Amazon!

The Unofficial and Evil Sequel! “2 Jennifer” review!

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After the success of writer-director James Cullen Bressack’s “To Jennifer,” a sequel begins to shape from the mind of aspiring filmmaker Spencer. Spencer’s quest is to locate the perfect, the one-and-only, Jennifer actress, who must bare the birth name as well. With a trip to Los Angeles and the help from his former high school buddy Mac, Spencer has quickly lined up a handful of potential Jennifers in hopes of one of them becoming his leading lady. Spencer and Mac finally decide on Jennifer Pope, a young actress who has yet to see the original film. Everything seems to be on track, but a dark cloud lingers overhead, slowly developing upon a hidden secret that’ll take the sequel “2 Jennifer” to the next deranged level.
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Hunter Johnson’s directorial debut hits the home entertainment market three years after Bressack’s iPhone shot suspenseful thriller “To Jennifer” in 2013 courteously from Psykik Junky and MVDVisual. Johnson, who also dons the role of the film’s star, Spencer, writes and directs the official sequel about the unofficial sequel to “To Jennifer.” You got that? Bressack tags along as executive producer with the Sector 5 distributed indie horror, which is also shot on cellphone cameras and small digital cameras, co-starring David Coupe as Mack and Lara Jean Mummert as the film’s namesake – Jennifer. To throw in a couple of familiar and iconic horror actresses to legitimize “2 Jennifer,” “Deadly Revision’s” Dawna Lee Heising and “Sleepaway Camp’s” Felissa Rose make cameo appearances that are strategically satirical.
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Now, I haven’t yet sat down to view James Cullen Bressack’s “To Jennifer,” even though I do own a copy. However, the sequel can and does stand alone as a separate body of work, an entity that doesn’t need to crutch or leech itself from the original movie. “2 Jennifer” sets up the necessary information in the prologue with numerous faux interviews, one of them being Dawna Lee Heising, needed to convey to comprehend any sort of background in order for blind buy viewers who don’t know that “2 Jennifer” is a sequel (or viewers like me who haven’t yet watched the original, but is aware of it’s existence) to proceed with a voyeuristic tale of disturbing macabre.
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The story starts off slow. With the artificial interviews designed to construct a clean and clear enough picture of Bressack’s original film, super fanatic Spencer then jumps into camera view to fulfill Bressack’s wish, as seen from the last interview segment, of a brand new filmmaker tackling a followup to his hit film. Spencer seems like a normal joe, cultivating crew, equipment, locations, and talent that sizes him up to be a gung-ho participant for his Jennifer horror story. While Spencer dedication is unwavering, his underlining intentions are hard to surface and, eventually, something isn’t quite right with Spencer. Mack senses turmoil, but doesn’t grasp the full picture either. As Spencer start to unravel is when the tale begins to pick up a dangerous and unpredictable amount of steam, energizing a massive, ominous train of horror and lunacy that funnels down a twisted tunnel of reality disconnecting tragedy.
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The acting overshot the mark of realism by a hair over the margin. For a film that’s shot digitally on phones and handhelds, a more natural performance needs to be approached and all the acting conveyed nothing short of very staged. Staged in a good way as the acting wasn’t terrible, but far from it. The affect just didn’t fit the mold. Hunter Johnson performed troublingly naturalistic with his transmogrified character whereas David Coupe profusely oozed of trained actor. Even Bressack’s semi-small role of himself perceived overly rehearsed with the director portraying to be coked out of his mind and joyfully intoxicated in the midst of his small party of fraternizers and partakers of substances.
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Sector 5 distributes the original LAHorror.com “2 Jennifer” film through local cable providers and pay-per-view services come this August. The 90-minute film sent to me was a burned screener disc copy and won’t have the audio or video qualities critiqued for obvious reasons. Bottom line is to give Hunter Johnson’s “2 Jennifer” a go, especially if you’re a fan of the first film. The characters develop nicely with their niceties getting their throats cuts in a jaw-dropping, gut-checking ending that’ll sure to please every gore fan.