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Life and Death of a Porno Gang, The

Review by: 
Don't Feed the Dead
AKA: 
Zivot I Smrt Porno Bande
Release Date: 
2009
Studio: 
Synapse Films
Genre: 
Com/Horror
Format: 
Blu-ray
Region: 
0 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.85:1
Directed by: 
Mladen Djordjevic
Cast: 
Mihajlo Jovanovic
Ana Acimovic
Pedrag Damnjanovic
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
5
Bottom Line: 
4
Video: 
Click to Play

I’ve been waiting quite some time for the release of “The Life and Death of a Porno Gang,” and Synapse Films will finally be unleashing the fury state-side on August 14, 2012. Similar in many aspects to its counterpart, “A Serbian Film,” Porno Gang is almost a biographic study of the harsh living conditions in Serbia during the waning of Slobodan Milosevic’s reign of terror. However, in contrast to the grim tones that “A Serbian Film” carries throughout its story, Porno Gang takes a more digestible approach to the subject matter of pornography, snuff, and how the two are often married in eastern block countries where life holds less value than money.

The film opens up introducing us to our main character, Marko (Jovanovic), a recent film school graduate hungry to break into the business by any means necessary. He documents his troubles in trying to obtain funding to make a horror film and ultimately lands in the director’s chair for seedy, home grown porn films. At first, the position seems a good fit for Marko as he tries to get his feet wet, but success is fleeting as he begins wasting the producer’s money on his own artistic endeavors. Slowly but surely, Marko digs himself a deep debt with the mafia connected producer, and finds himself having to flee Belgrade when his latest artistic endeavor, a porno cabaret, is shut down and he loses more of the producer’s money.

Rounding up a rag-tag group, Marko decides it would be best to take the porno cabaret on the road to the countryside, where they can entertain both horny old farmers and peasants alike. The group decorates the infamous “suicide bus from hell” in an entertaining little montage and sets off to impress the masses with their artistic talents. The first show goes great as the crowd of farmers react extremely well to the dirt fucking antics, big city homosexual BDSM and purty ladies that have all their teeth. Again, though, Marko’s dreams of a successful porno cabaret are dashed as the gang quickly learns that the country side is even less hospitable than the city, and the consequences of flashing sexuality are more brutal than a beat down from the local authorities. 

It is at this low point of the cabaret’s existence that they unanimously decide to get on board with a shady snuff producer who travels the Balkans looking for “artists” such as Marko to create films for his client. The premise of these films is quite simple, as the victims willingly give themselves up to be murdered on camera for money. The victims’ lives are essentially already over, either through psychosis, disease or old age, and they would rather see their families benefit monetarily through their death than leave them with nothing. Although the concept of mercy killing seems easy enough on paper, the morality of the situation sinks in with each member of the gang, and one by one they meet their come-uppance either through tragedy or other means. 

As mentioned earlier, it’s very easy to draw parallels between Porno Gang and A Serbian film based on the subject matter alone. Where Porno Gang differs substantially, though, is the delivery of the material and mood set by the film’s events. Director Mladen Djordjevic does an incredible job of building set pieces that take the viewer on an emotional roller coaster, from laughter to shock, utter sadness to redemption. It’s a stark contrast to the viewers who have seen A Serbian Film and are aware of the sinking feeling of abandoned humanity that can be created by the subject matter of snuff films. Porno Gang remains upbeat for the majority of the films, even in scenes that could easily spell a downturn in viewing experience. Once such scene, where the gang abducts a child molester/ rapist and ultimately kills him via chainsaw, has the reality of the man’s actions counterbalanced by one of the gang screaming “timber!” as he severs the man’s head, and cuts down the tree the body was tied to. Juxtaposed moments like that made Porno Gang an extremely fun film that kept my attention the whole way through.

Included in the Synape Films Blu-Ray release are a tremendous amount of extra features. The first, which immediately caught my eye when I received the screener copy, is a 101 minute long documentary by director Mladen Djordjevic on the origin and existence of the Serbian adult film industry. It was a very interesting watch, especially from an American male perspective, where porno is presented in a very different light than the early Serb hardcore titles. These movies, which were in reality a mish mash of horribly acted vignettes, seemed comedic even in comparison to some of Ron Jeremy’s most outlandish skits. Keeping with the subject of the feature film, this extra also highlighted the lack of  value placed on a human life, emphasizing that the actors/ actresses were more possession than personality. In addition to this full length secondary film, the disc includes about 5 deleted scenes from the main feature and a making of featurette for Porno Gang.

The presentation of The Life and Death of a Porno Gang by Synapse Films is nothing less than stellar. From the actual Blu-Ray packaging, to the transfer of the film, everything included on this release is top notch. Hell, the disc’s cover art is reversible so that you can display the cabaret bus in all its explicit glory as seen in the feature film. I really did enjoy receiving this film and the actual viewing experience was fantastic. I highly recommend this movie for folks that shy away from A Serbian Film (based on word of mouth), but are interested in the subject matter of snuff porno and how the quality of life affects the decisions made by those with nothing but dreams. Truly a great movie, and hopefully its success gets the ball rolling for Mladen Djordjevic to create more works based on the politics and real life horrors that take place in the Balkans.

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