Sunday, June 7, 2009

BLACK DEVIL DOLL - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



This film is every bit as much of a piece of trash as it purports itself to be. This is a Blaxploitation film that salutes all of the prior greats of that genre cross-faded with a heavy dose of Troma. I have to tell you that 98% of the fun of this film was seeing it at a packed movie house in downtown San Francisco. The energy was in the air, and the director, writer, and actors were in the audience. The groans, laughs and perpetual, "what the hell?!!?" comments fueled the experience.


I mentioned Troma films, and the similarities between BLACK DEVIL DOLL and anything Troma has produced are pronounced. Troma films are all characterized by extreme camp, bad FX., boobs, and blood. Black Devil Doll ups the ante in all departments. It isn't great filmmaking, but for a low-budget romp on the crass side, this movie beats the hell out of anything that Troma has ever produced.


I am not holding back spoilers on this one. But I personally have read too many limp-wristed reviews of this film, and it is time somebody brought the news.


Here is what you need to know: This movie was made for $5,000. The brothers Shawn and Jonathan Lewis have succeeded in creating a buzz that brings their low-budget film to a impressive level of pop-culture consciousness. The film sets out to be profanely unconventional, displaying a disrespect for mainstream film so extreme that it opens with a cartoon in which the doll kills and sodomizes the MPAA as payback for the film's X rating. The Lewis Brothers have
managed to translate revulsion, negative press, and a general soft-porn notoriety into what is turning out to be some relative success with this film.

BDD starts with Mubia (director John Lewis), a Black radical who is about to be executed for raping and killing fifteen white women, being walked to the electric chair. His execution sequence is the setup for the entire film.


In the next scene Heather (Heather Murphy) is playing with a ouija board while her breasts are ogled by the camera. A Danny O'Day ventriliquist dummy is conveniently sitting next to her on the couch. At the stroke of midnight, a power from beyond turns the dummy into Mubia, an afroed, foul-mouthed, malt-liquor-drinking, misogynist puppet.


The comments and quips that come out of Mubia's mouth are definitely hilarious. He mentions being sodomized by a pitchfork in hell while a demon spoke latin to him, but explains he is now free to live again in this puppet body. All of his dialogue is as vulgar and crude as possible and delivered with a jive cookie monster growl.


After that comes the honeymoon part of the film. Heather's character falls head over heels in love with the puppet, and at first, the puppet seems to be the romantic sort. There is a picnic with a bucket of Oakland Fried Chicken. There is an afternoon at a park with slides and swings. Oh, and there is a LOT of absurd puppet sex. The puppet is always clothed. Heather is always naked in the sex scenes. But there is something oddly convincing about the puppet/human copulation-focused string of sex scenes that dominate the film.


If this isn't ridiculous enough, White-T, played by Martin Boone, observes this puppet sex through the window of Heather's house and realizes that he has officially lost his girlfriend. White-T is the sterotypical horrible white rapper, and there is no question that the Lewis brothers have this character marked for death later in the film. From here the film degenerates even further.


Mubia eventually tires of monogamy and demands that Heather invite her friends over so that he can mix it up a bit. When Natasha, Candi, Buffy, and Bambi arrive at Heather's house, there is an impromptu bump and grind car wash in the driveway that completely lesbianizes and dismantles the car wash scene in COOL HAND LUKE. The difference is that Mubia is in the window masturbating as he watches these women spraying and sudsing each other. When his ejaculate sprays the window, it is official that this film has stablized in NC-17 territory.


The girls enter the house and amateurishly deliver their lines, groping each other as they discuss their various breast sizes. Next up is a face-to-crotch showdown for the ladies while they play Twister. Twister and the car wash are nothing more than leering camera work to really familiarize the audience with the bodies of the women. These scenes are masturbatory, silly, and there to convey the puppet's growing lust.


Heather soon leaves, and the girls go to different parts of the house. The rest of the film follows Mubia as he proceeds to stalk, rape, and kill all of them. Roofies and rape for one, bathtub electrocution and oral rape for the next, baseball bat to the head and rape for the third, but before the fourth can be dispatched, White-T shows up. The White-T character is so uncomfortably complete with the concept of "wigga" that it is a relief when Mubia strangles him while referencing 8 SECONDS. White-T's corpse is then sodomized and forced into a closet.


The final girl, Natasha (played by Natasha Talonz), slips on her way out of the shower and bashes her head on the toilet. Mubia uses this opportunity to forcefully perform analingus on her. When Natasha comes to, she is then chased naked through the house, manages to hide in a room, and lock the door. Mubia fires a stream of diarrhea at the door and melts an opening for him to get to Natasha. After looking at Mubia's puppet-prick, she goes headlong into
an over-the-top sex scene with Mubia that contains among other things, Mubia drinking her urine. Mubia then slashes her throat.


Heather returns, finds all of her friends dead, and shoots the puppet perhaps 50 times with a never-ending stream of bullets from what seems to be a bottomless clip. She then suddenly gives birth, Monty Python/X-Tro style in the kitchen with a splat. At the end of the film, she laments her life, her half-puppet mulatto baby, and blows her brains out.


There is not much more really to be said about this film. The effects are surprisingly adequate. The references to other films are convoluted yet in place. Nods to SUPERFLY, DOLEMITE, and SWEET SWEETBACKS BADASS SONG are all in place. Any number of slasher films are represented too. The Leprechaun series is saluted along with a surprising homage to the original 1984 movie BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL.


Understandably people trying to break into Hollywood have to do their dirt. Actors have movies that they are ashamed of. Directors have projects that they wish would disappear. BLACK DEVIL DOLL is nothing to be proud of. Outside of some of the special effects and the employment of buxom women willing to be naked and leered at by a camera, two high school students with a camcorder and an apple computer could have pulled this off. The film is clever, but never rises above the level of a strange skin show with absurd body functions.
However parts of this movie are extremely funny. Every time the doll is about to have an orgasm, he has a vision of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and stock '60s race riot footage. At one point, George Bush's face is a part of the vision, with glowing demonic eyes. To the Lewis Brothers' credit, this movie also pokes fun at itself. This is a film that has obviously been made for a rather limited audience.


With heavy DVD sales looming and foreign markets locked, the Lewis Brothers are very close to the mainstream. What they will do with their feet in the door is what should be watched. At the very least, it is obvious they had a lot of fun making this film.