I couldn’t help noticing that horror streaming service Shudder has been shouting about the fact they now have VEROTIKA available, so I thought now might be a good time to take another look at it.
In case you are unaware, VEROTIKA is a horror anthology movie directed by Glenn Danzig, vocalist of the hugely influential (and hugely awesome) horror punk band The Misfits and a respected solo artist in his own right.
This film is based on stories originally published in Danzig’s very own VEROTIK comic book line and is, to be blunt, one of the most catastrophically inept films I’ve ever seen.
“But wait,” I hear you say. “This feature is called Salem Recommends. So are you recommending this or aren’t you?”
Allow me to clarify. Yes, this movie may be clunkingly amateurish, abysmally acted and downright confusing, but my god is it entertaining! My first thought after the end titles had rolled was: “I really need to watch this again.” Partly because I couldn’t quite believe what I had just seen, and partly because…
Well, no, it’s just that.
As I said, VEROTIKA is an anthology featuring three terrifying tales linked by a horned goth lady called Morella (played by adult movie star and nude model Kayden Kross).
Incidentally, there are a lot of porn stars in this movie, so checking it out on IMDB makes for a very interesting read.
The first segment is called THE ALBINO SPIDER OF DAJETTE and is the only one to feature an ending. I’m not kidding there. This genuinely is the only story in this anthology to achieve any sort of denouement. The other ones just kind of go on for a bit and then stop.
But before you read on, be warned. Here be spoilers.
THE ALBINO SPIDER OF DAJETTE concerns a young French lady (played by porn star Ashley Wisdom who, in fairness, does a pretty good job with the accent) who has eyes on her boobs instead of nipples. One day, when she’s a bit upset, they cry onto a spider, causing it to mutate into a man-sized human-arachnid hybrid who goes out breaking women’s necks every time Dajette falls asleep.
Yeah. You read that right.
Soon, Paris is living in fear of this mysterious serial killer known only as “The Neckbreaker”, so Dajette has to try and stay awake, lest this foul creature goes out and commits any more murders for which she holds herself partly responsible. She doesn’t last long, however. One of my favourite scenes involves her walking into a coffee shop, sitting down, not having anything, paying and then leaving again.
Dajette, you went in there for coffee and, when offered some, turned it down. What did you just pay for, exactly?
But I digress…
At the climax, she calls the cops to her home and takes an overdose of sleeping tablets, thus causing the accursed spider-man to appear just as the aforementioned coppers are bursting in through the door, armed with guns and outrageous accents. Before they shoot the creature dead, one of them shouts: “Take your hands from her neck!”
Um. Dude. The creature’s hands aren’t on her neck. She’s already lying dead on the floor. Didn’t you notice?
And so we skip gleefully to segment two, which is all about some mysterious woman who goes around cutting women’s faces off and hanging them on her wall. You may have noticed that I described her as mysterious. This was no accident, as this deranged killer also moonlights as a masked stripper called – wait for it! – Mystery Girl.
CHANGE OF FACE, for that is the title, stars Rachel Alig (who is notably not a porn star) in the lead role. She is by far and away the most non-scary serial killer I’ve ever seen in a film. I’m not going to hold her entirely responsible for that. I mean, look at the script she had to work with.
This segment also features a glorious, scenery-chewing turn from Sean Kanan as Sgt. Anders, the cop on the killer’s trail. Well, actually, saying that there’s any kind of trail here to be followed is being generous. Cop finds business card. Business card leads to strip club. Job done.
Be warned. This segment features gratuitous shots of strippers.
And so we limp on to the last segment, DRUKIJA: CONTESSA OF BLOOD. The more eagle-eyed among you might have noticed the similarity between that name and a certain Transylvanian vampire.
This story is about…
Hang on! My bad. There is literally no story to this one. Instead, we as viewers simply look on as a Countess Bathory-type medieval ruler (played by Alice Tate, also not a porn star) kidnaps virgins from surrounding villages, bathes in their blood, sometimes drinks it, and spends a great deal of time admiring herself in the mirror. And that’s it, really. There’s no threat involved. No angry mob bearing pitchforks and flaming torches marching on her castle. She just does her thing and all’s still hunky-dory at the end.
Actually, in one scene when she’s climbing into a bath (full of blood, obvs), you can actually see that the actor is wearing a bit of tape to protect her…erm…modesty.
The attention to period detail in this film is staggering.
See what I did there?
So, where to begin? It’s pretty obvious that what Danzig was aiming for here was something along the lines of Sin City. A trashy, pulpy movie that not only knows it’s trashy and pulpy, but actually revels in it. But that’s not how it turned out. The end result is simply amatuerish.
Firstly, absolutely none of this is either frightening or erotic. Without fear or tension, gore is just gore. It’s a special effect. And also, this film makes the age-old mistake of assuming that just by filling the screen with naked women, it’s erotic. No it isn’t.
Watching it, it occurred to me that if someone ever gave a bunch of horny, adolescent schoolchildren a budget, a cast and a film crew and told them to go make a movie, this is exactly what you’d get.
And yet, despite all this, I loved it! Seriously, it was a stupendously entertaining ninety minutes. As previously stated, I couldn’t wait to watch it a second time. Which I did. And guess what, I loved it just as much again.
For horror fans, I would say that this is a must-have for the collection. You really do have to see VEROTIKA at least once in your life. I can recommend the edition that comes with the blu-ray, DVD and soundtrack CD, because the soundtrack is ace. For real.
But anyway, I for one can’t wait for Glenn Danzig’s next movie. I just hope it’s as good as this one.