Verotika (Blu-ray Review)
Release Date(s)2019 (March 17, 2020)
Studio(s)Dark Risen Pictures/UFO Pictures (Cleopatra Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: D
Exploitation is the best way to categorize Verotika, a collection of three horror/erotic tales tied together by an Elvira-type narrator, Morella (Kristen Kross). Based on the Verotik comics, graphic tales heavy on violence and nudity, the movie certainly delivers on both. The opening credits by John Osten promise a classy film with their blend of Saul Bass inspired graphics and the James Bond pictures’ kaleidoscopic flashiness.
The first story, The Albino Spider of Dajette, is about a young woman (Ashley Wisdom) who has eyeballs on her breasts that terrify any man who tries to get romantic. When those eyes weep after a would-be lover flees in terror, the tears fall onto an albino spider, bringing it to life in the form of a monstrous creature that breaks the necks of nubile young women whenever Dajette is asleep. The special effects for the spider creature are more laughable than horrific. Director Glenn Danzig tends to hold shots far too long after the point is made. By lingering, he makes his actors look awkward and slows the pace of the narrative. Ms. Wisdom is awful as the title character and Scotch Hopkins can’t help but look ridiculous in his spider get-up.
The second story, Change of Face, focuses on a stripper known as Mystery Girl (Rachel Alig), who murders young women in order to slice off their faces. She displays them in her dressing room and uses them to cover up her own badly scarred (but hardly convincing) face. This makes little sense since, when she’s performing, her face is concealed. Her victims tend to stand trembling as she announces their fate. Rather than run for the hills, the women engage in long-winded discussions, pleading for their lives. Once again, the acting is abysmal.
The final episode, Drukija Contessa of Blood, has a basis in history and legend. The Contessa (Alice Tate) is inspired by Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian noblewoman who murdered more than 600 young women and reputedly bathed in their blood to stay young. Drukija shows the Contessa riding through the countryside with her entourage, seeking out young virgins, tossing a few gold coins to the parents and taking the girls to her castle where they await her vampiric pleasure. This segment is the most violent of the three, as we see repeated mutilation of the Contessa’s victims and vast amounts of blood spurting from slit throats and oozing from severed veins. The Contessa bathes in blood and rubs it on her face as if it were a face cream.
Apart from its intensity, Verotika is inept in many ways. The acting is terrible, the primary requirement for the roles having been a shapely figure with overly ample breasts. Performances are amateurish, and there seems to have been little effort on the part of either the director or the actresses to provide any semblance of reality. When murders occur, instead of being horrified, the victims look perplexed and unsure of how to react. Where was the director?
The film relies heavily on special effects, yet they are unconvincing and clearly intended to maximize graphic violence. There is absolutely no attempt at characterization. We are presented with these characters as if we’ve tuned into the middle of a movie. These “stories” are more like episodes in a greater untold tale. The bottom line is that the film doesn’t horrify. Nor is it campy enough to entertain on the “so bad it’s good” level. It’s simply the work of an inept director and an untalented, if buxom, cast.
The Unrated Blu-ray release, featuring 1080p resolution, is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The palette tends toward garish colors, with red dominating, since blood—and a lot of it—figures in all three tales. Editing is peculiar. Director Danzig lets the camera dwell on scenes well after their audio and visual points have been made, giving the movie an unprofessional look. Special effects are weak and are reminiscent of the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis—lots of gore with minimal attempt to make things look authentic. More money devoted to effects would at least have helped distract from the dreary acting.
The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-High Definition Master Audio and is adequate. The actors speak with very bad French accents, which adds to the film’s unintended surrealism. The heavy metal soundtrack was probably meant to intensify the gruesome scenes with loud, piercing music, but it is often poorly matched to the visuals, undermining the visceral effect.
The 3-Disc Combo pack contains Blu-ray and DVD discs plus the soundtrack on CD. Other bonus materials include a slideshow and trailer.
CD Soundtrack – Selections include the heavy metal songs Eyes Ripping Fire (Danzig), Crimson Lust (Vile a Sin), Gutter Glitter (Switchblade Symphony), Allez Prenons Un Autre Verre (Pink Velvet), Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (Kore Rozzik), Je Suis a Toi (Fantome), Dancing Madly Backwards on a Sea of Air (Ministry), and Close Your Eyes (Jyrki 69).
Slideshow – Several behind-the-scenes photos are shown, particularly make-up technicians applying their gruesome effects. Scantily clad actresses are shown lounging on the set between takes.
Trailer – The trailer presents highlights from the movie along with the tag line “Has cult classic written all over it.”
– Dennis Seuling