Ginger Nuts of Horror
Come on in, the water's foul...
SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS (2006)
Dir. Lucifer Valentine, USA
Well, that was fun...
If you start scanning the internet looking for shocking or extreme films, you're almost certain to stumble across the work of Lucifer Valentine. The Vomit Gore Trilogy in particular, starting here with Slaughtered Vomit Dolls and continuing in ReGOREgitated Sacrifice and Slow Torture Puke Chamber, is notorious for its disturbing content and unique style of presentation. The trilogy itself follows the story of Angela Aberdeen, a bulimic runaway porn star who falls in with a deeply bad crowd. I say 'follows the story' – it's very difficult to pick up anything much of a narrative thread in SVD, and as far as I can gather parts 2 and 3 follow very much in the same vein.
Let's break this down into two parts. Does Slaughtered Vomit Dolls deserve its reputation as a pinnacle of sick cinema? Yes, absolutely. There are three gory murders, or 'executions' as they are described on screen, each of which is shot in an absolutely raw fashion with buckets of blood and unflinching, uncomfortable close-ups. And if you can't handle people vomiting, you are definitely going to be in for a bad ride. Aberdeen is shown forcing herself to be sick, often with four fingers down her throat, sometimes producing just bile and blood. Well, how do you top that? How's about a guy puking into a glass and then drinking it back up? That I must admit to watching through my fingers...
But it's not just the out-there content that sets SVD apart. It's also the manner of shooting, the soundtrack, everything. The 70 minutes of this film are a flat-out visual and aural assault. It's not designed to be comfortable, even when it's not presenting its infamous gore and vomit. The characters often speak in slow motion, and the film deliberately skips and jumps by just the slightest moments throughout. There are lots of quick cuts, sometimes barely giving you the chance to take things in. The intention every step of the way is to discombobulate you, leave you feeling breathless and uneasy. In that, it succeeds admirably. This feels like the film they should have shown Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
Question two – is Slaughtered Vomit Dolls actually a good movie? Well, it's not something I would describe as enjoyable. I found myself clockwatching in a few places, even though it only weighed in at 70 minutes. There was little by way of a genuine narrative thread – my best guess is that the camera was being held throughout by Aberdeen's never-seen boyfriend, as she professes her undying and self-abasing love for him. The vomit scenes with other characters – and perhaps even the executions – I would have to take as her dreams or nightmares, or perhaps even the genuine actions of this camera-wielding boyfriend. Acting-wise, Ameara LeVey as the lead isn't bad, just that she's playing a character so broken and disillusioned that it's hard to feel any sympathy towards her (the one quote that summed Aberdeen up for me was 'I don't know what's left of me, but you can f**k it if you want'). She's also only really got dialogue and some sexual content to play with rather than any kind of recognisable three-act structure. There are no other notable characters, just victims or demented psychopaths who feature in the dream(?) sequences.
And the final question I have now is what to rate this movie. Distrubing? Yes, in droves. Difficult to watch? Indeed, and not always for the reasons you'd like. There are patches of this film that are boring, and there's so much slow motion you wonder if the whole thing could have been done more effectively as a short film. Often the thing I find myself looking for around this bad neighbourhood of cinema that I inhabit is the meaning. You can present almost anything on film, but the impact really comes from context more than anything else. If Slaughtered Vomit Dolls has a meaning – and I can't conclusively say that it does or doesn't – for me it's something about male sexuality. It's a tricky thing to explore in this context. Halfway through SVD I found myself thinking that these were just the sickening fantasies of a pervert, that the film was nothing more than a true piece of the often-misapplied term 'torture porn'. But if I were being generous to this movie – which I will be – the message here is surely that men looking at – and treating – women this way is completely wrong. It's certainly not glamorizing anything that occurs on screen – if anything, it's presenting it in the way it should be presented: unpleasant, unsettling, unsavoury and undesirable.
You might be looking at that number thinking it's a typo. But it's not. As a piece of storytelling, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is a mess. It practically abandons narrative in the way something like Burroughs' Naked Lunch does. And, despite that, both are just as interesting as one another. As a piece of extreme art, as an experimental presentation of ideas, as a journey into the hell of a ruined life, SVD is fascinating. I almost feel as though this move is somehow bigger than the sum of its parts – having slept on it before writing this review, I feel much warmer towards it, despite all the problems I had with it while watching it. If you think you can withstand a 70 minute all-out attack on your senses loaded with discordant sound, reversed speech, violent murder and vomit, all presented in a disorienting visual style, then you might just like this one. But I would say for 90% of people this'll be a film that you start watching but don't finish. And 90% might just be a conservative estimate... So, in the end, having taken some time to digest this horrid morsel, it's an 8/10.
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