Sunday, March 04, 2012

Some Appreciable Gusto

If they were my kids, I'd be sort of proud of the gang who made 2008's Bad Biology. As student films go, it has remarkably communicative editing and actually features a few genuinely funny ideas. Unfortunately, it's not a student film.

My favourite part of the movie was a photo shoot where the film's nymphomaniac female lead, Jennifer, has put vagina masks on a bunch of topless models.

The guy who looks like Patton Oswalt is Vinnie Paz, a hip hop artist, and the movie had backing from other hip hop artists, one of whom is apparently somewhere on the Wu-Tang Clan chain of affiliation. The movie's score by John Glazer and Prince Paul unsurprisingly then has a decent hip hop flavour to it.

I like that director Frank Henenlotter classifies himself as an exploitation filmmaker. Bad Biology almost has enough sex to qualify as an exploitation film, and while it indeed has some of the attitude, the humour is more along the lines of Dead Alive or Stuart Gordon's loose adaptation of Re-Animator, with self-consciously schlocky violence and sex. What Bad Biology lacks that was so crucial to those films, as well as the best of the 70s exploitation films, is a decent cast of performers. What kept Thriller - A Cruel Picture or Women in Cages from being tiresome were the performances by the likes of Christina Linberg and Pam Grier. The performances in Bad Biology are sort of astounding in the consistency of their flatness. The screenplay is another problem as lines too often go over the line from schlocky fun to simply lame. And finally, the filmmakers overestimate the value of some of their ideas, and the last third of the film is simply a dull treadmill ride to the end credits except for some cheesecake.

The movie's lead is a nymphomaniac because nature saw fit to bestow upon her the gift of several extra clitorises. She refers in voice over to nymphomania as a pejorative term invented by men to condemn the female libido. Her argument against society's condemnation of women's sexuality is damaged a bit by the fact that she always kills the babies her strange body immediately produces after sex. I would say the filmmakers are actually making a rather misogynist statement if I thought the movie was that thought out.

The male lead is a guy with a giant penis that has a mind of its own, eventually jumping off his body to ravage a series of beautiful women. He has one of the movie's lamest lines when he compares his dick's single minded pursuit of sex to the drive of a spermatozoa, which I guess is sort of like comparing a car to a car engine. His performance is even more flat than the female lead's, though I was most impressed by the woman's assistant at photo shoots who stumbled over the word "orgasm" to say it like "orogasam".

The conflict between the male and female lead over his penis seemed to me like it was meant to be reflective of a broader conflict between men and women over sexual power, but if that was the filmmakers' plan, they don't really go anywhere with it. To anyone interested in a movie that explores this issue well while employing sex and biological weirdness I would highly recommend David Cronenberg's Rabid.

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