Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Spit On Your Film

I normally am Mr. Let's Have Some Fun With This Movie, recounting some life events and having some giggles at the expense of the movie. Being that person is a part of watching crap movies; if you can't laugh at yourself, you can't really laugh at much else. And I like pointing fun at the goofiness/lameness/weirdness of the movies I watch.

Most people who have been invested in watching crappy and weird and gross movies will ultimately run across movies that are outside their limits of taste. Some people will draw a line with animal death in something like Cannibal Holocaust. Others freak out over concepts as outrageous as The Human Centipede. Certain people hate watching more realistic brutality exhibited in films like Salo or Men Behind The Sun. Then you have the momentary thrill seekers who test their skills against puke-inducing videos like "Two Girls, One Cup."

I've watched all of these, and while I felt a lot of it was unnecessary, nothing freaked me out or grossed me out. I am sure I have explained in the past that, since my formative years of movie watching, I seek a film, or films, that can do one or more of the following things: Be so gross that I vomit, or be so frightening that I wet my pants, or be so offensive that I cannot bring myself to watch any further. To be honest, I've seen movies so stupid and boring that I've done most of these things, but I mark that up to brain damage. Not the same thing.

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a film that sounded like a great chance to push the envelope of one or more of my goals mentioned above. The cover stated that it had been banned for 13 years, and that it had been turned over to New York police as a "snuff" film. There is even a warning that the film is not for the faint of heart or those easily shocked. Comments referenced the fact the film boasted the longest and most brutal rape scene ever committed to film. (Let me make this clear: I'm not a rape film fan. Oddly enough, there are people out there like that, but I'll reference that later in the review.)

They All Must Die! is the title, and based on what the comments and synopsis told me, it sounded like a perfect fit. Some cheap, sleazy bit of trash to kick me in the mental balls and walk away laughing.

Let me get the story out of the way. I do mean STORY as there is no plot that I can piece together.

White woman moves into the Bed-Stuy neighborhood to write about life through the eyes and lives of black working men. As she is moving in, 3 black youths begin verbally attacking her with insults and racial slurs. One guy decides he is going to hit on her and makes his move. He is told by the woman that she isn't interested as she is there to work. His friends rag on him for bombing, and he hints that he is gonna get what he wants.

The woman's landlord is an obsessed fan of her writing and figures that it is the perfect time to win her over. He is so confident that he kicks his wife/girlfriend out of the building so he can devote all of his time to winning over the white writer. Of course, the writer turns him down.

Our 3 youths whip themselves into a frenzy in which they decide that they are going to teach the white woman a lesson. They terrorize her until the landlord leads her away from the youths and attempts to calm her down. When she goes back to her apartment, she finds the youths are waiting for her. She is then abused, doped up, beaten and gang raped for roughly 30 to 40 minutes. After the 3 guys tire of her, she drags herself into the bathtub and attempts to clean herself.

We see her stalk and kill all three of her attackers in a very short series of scenes. Lo and behold, it was all a fantasy as we are brought back to the woman, beaten and bloodied, still in the bathtub. She crawls out and attempts to get to her phone to call for help, but her injuries are such that she collapses.

In comes her landlord. She begs him to call for help. Instead, he takes advantage of her condition and satisfies himself sexually in her mouth. He then ties her up in his apartment while he discourses on how important he will be now that he has a white woman of his own. 

Yeah, that's it. 

For those of you who find the story vile, I suggest you hang around for the rest of the review. For those of you who find the story enticing and a turn on, by all means rush out and buy your own copy and do whatever it is that people who like this stuff do while watching it because I'm sure nothing I am about to say will have any impact.

What little history that can be found on this film does offer some insight into what you see. Apparently the director, Sean Weathers, watched the much-hyped I Spit On Your Grave and figured he could outdo the rape scene in both length and brutality. Congratulations, Mr. Weathers, you certain did that. To make the scene more authentic, he supposedly kept the lead female and the 3 lead males from meeting until shooting the first scene. One guess what that first scene was. Yup, the seemingly never-ending rape scene. I can't imagine what that first day must have been like, but the shock and horror on the woman's face certainly doesn't look faked. I'm impressed she returned for the rest of the scenes. That is, if the stories about the film can be believed.

Now we turn to the film itself. It looks to be shot on shitty video which almost gives it an uncomfortable aura of being shot as it happened. The in-your-face style enhances the feeling being an invisible leering pervert who is following these characters around and getting off on the misery. You are made to feel as if you are as much a participant as the thugs themselves. Unless you have a seriously bent sex drive, you will feel beyond soiled after watching this movie. It has been nearly 2 years since I watched this and I still cannot scrub this stain of a film from my memory. Again, congratulations, Mr. Weathers.

If you look up some reviews of this film, you will find a few that suggest the woman in the movie is arrogant and just as racially insensitive as our trio of abusers. I have no idea what movie they saw, unless there are various versions of this thing. She is firm but polite enough when the one guy hits on her. She is also polite enough when the landlord makes a fool of himself when he reveals his obsession with her. The only transgression she is guilty of comes while she is having a private phone conversation with her mother (which we are aware of only because her landlord has sneaked into her apartment to spy on her). She tells her worried mother that she isn't going to let a few "spooks" keep her from writing her book. Sure, not the nicest thing to say, but it isn't like she's Paula Deen or, maybe, HITLER! And it definitely is not justification for what she has done to her.

What we are left with is a film that goes to extremes to present the black male characters as self-serving brutes who feel entitled to do what they wish to this woman simply because she is white and she has moved into their neighborhood. Honestly, the film provides no other possible motivation. Their "fragile" egos require them to ignore the woman's desire to be left alone to write so they can exercise their manliness. Even the landlord kicks out the only other woman in his life when she attempts to be a voice of rational thought and reason. The men in the film take advantage of this woman in every possible instance and way.

Oh, but she gets her revenge, right? No. As I stated, the revenge sequence only takes place in her mind. To be honest, that part of the film seems to almost be an afterthought, added simply as a nod to I Spit On Your Grave maybe. The film would actually be better served if that segment was left out. It adds nothing. It provides no comfort or closure. It is a pointless distraction, and takes away from the overall sense of intense brutality that the director supposedly wanted to create. Not that I'm supporting this film as art, but it is just a narrative issue.

I could easily just walk away from this movie, as I have presented it so far, and shrug it off as a nasty bit of pointlessness about black men and their obsession with white women. Unfortunately, for me, the director did something else with this film that is the reason it nags and troubles me to this day. 

At various points throughout the film, usually during the violation sequences, you might notice a flash on the screen, almost like a bad edit. I should be so lucky. If you pause the movie and advance frame by frame (most DVD players can do this, so don't think I did some high-end technical work here), you will find that these "flashes" are actually single frame images of lynchings. You heard me correctly. Crystal clear black-and-white images of dead black men, beaten/hanged/burned, surrounded by grinning and laughing whites. Real images from heaven knows when, but brutal and sickening.

What are we to make of this? Is it there to imply that their attacks on this woman are justified? Are these random thoughts "flashing" through her head? Is it meant as some grand political statement? WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS MEAN? I even sent an email to Mr. Weathers asking him to explain this. I heard nothing. So I'm left with a vile film that now has a subtext that I am unsure what to make of.

Now, if the director was a white guy, I could easily write this whole nightmare off as racist trash. Sean Weathers is African-American, which brings a whole new level of WTF? to this movie. The entire film presents the black men as little more than animals who have no motivation other than to destroy and mark their territory. Weave in the images of lynchings and then I have to wonder what we are to make of it in relationship to the rest of the film.

They All Must Die! is a truly disturbing film on most levels. When I decided to write this review, I told myself that I would watch it again. The thing sat in front of my TV for days. I put it into my player a few times. Honestly, the thought of watching the film again sickened me. I ultimately could not bring myself to do it. I have no desire to ever watch this thing again. Once was enough. I doubt I will ever forget it, though I wish I could. It did not offend me enough that I could not finish it, but it did offend and sicken me enough that I never want to experience it again.

If you chose to watch this movie after reading this review, you are on your own. I hope nothing I wrote here sounded in any way as encouragement.

I understand there are different kicks for different folks. As long as you don't drag me into your playhouse against my will, you can do whatever you want to and with yourself. And I'm not the kind of person to call someone out over opinions that are utterly subjective, because, as my dad used to say, "Opinions are like assholes: Everyone has one, and they usually stink."

However (you knew that was coming), while doing some research on this film, I ran across a review for They All Must Die! by a person identified as Hiccup who writes for Bring Out the GIMP (Girls In Merciless Peril). Apparently a site that is dedicated to films in which woman are imperiled and/or brutalized. That's fine. But towards the end of the review, there was a paragraph that...well, here, let me just quote it for you:

"In summary I'm amazed this movie actually got made when it did. Its definitely the most politically incorrect movie made in the last 20 years which is why there was very little distribution of it. The forced stripping scene and rape were spot on with excellent acting, humiliation and nudity. One thing I didn't like is the director tried to make Wendy appear as a real rape victim with blood, bruises, matted hair and whatnot which made her less attractive to look at."

The bold type is mine, but it is a direct copy and paste, misspellings and all. 

I look at that sentence and cannot wrap my head around the mind that could put something like that together. A victim of a long, savage beating and rape who isn't attractive to look at when it is over? What does this person want, that Wendy should walk away with her hair perfectly teased with full makeup and slut pumps and an ass-hugging tight skirt?

If the writer of this abomination is a guy, I feel shame that I am of the same gender. If it is a woman (and I can't believe that it is), she is not human. I'll admit to be being one seriously twisted mister, but this begs the title "sick fuck". Yeah, yeah, live and let live. Just don't expect me not to find some people to be a bit frightening.

No comments: