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She Kills

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
SRS Cinema
Advance Screener
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Ron Bonk
Jennie Russo
Trey Harrison
Michael Merchant
Kirk LaSalle
Niecy Cerise
Bottom Line: 
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The “grindhouse cinema” movement of the late 1970s/early 1980s wasn’t so much a genre as it was a subset of cinema deemed either too extreme for shopping mall multiplexes or lacking the budget and distribution muscle of studio offerings, limiting the exhibition of these misfit flicks to sleazy downtown theaters where they’d often receive limited engagements or be packaged with other (oftentimes completely unrelated) films in double features. The advent of home video saw budget-minded producers of these sorts of films skipping the expensive process of striking prints and the politics of competing for limited screen space in favor of dumping their films directly to video, and, as the technology and access to consumer-friendly video cameras and equipment eventually afforded virtually anyone the ability to make and distribute their own low-budget films on video, the grindhouse movement came to an abrupt end. Somewhat ironically, however, as video gave way to digital, and home computers evolved into powerful editing tools that gave a new generation of filmmakers the ability to make movies that our progenitors could only dream of, the grindhouse movement has experienced a rebirth, of sorts, with all manner of films embracing the “grindhouse experience” full-on. From Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ Grindhouse (as well as the latters’ Machete series), Black Dynamite, and Hobo with a Shotgun, to micro-budget offerings like Astron 6’s Father’s Day, and, now, Ron Bonk’s uproarious, over-the-top, and downright brilliant She Kills.

Opening with a gorgeously shot sequence that evokes the softcore European erotica of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, we are introduced to Sadie (Jennie Russo) as she frolics through a meadow, stopping for a moment to expose her bountiful bosom to the warmth of the sunlight, unaware that she’s being watched by Reggie (Michael Merchant), a member of the nefarious gang, “The Touchers”. After pleasuring himself in the woods for a bit, Reggie decides to make his move, but is interrupted by the arrival of Sadie’s fiancé, Edwin (Kirk LaSalle) – a decidedly milquetoast sort who is the perfect complement to the old-fashioned, virginal Sadie. Reggie confronts Sadie and Edwin, but, when he hears sirens in the distance, Reggie opts to cut and run, letting them know they’ve not seen the last of him.

Soon we see Edwin carrying his new bride over the threshold into a motel room where Sadie is finally ready to give herself to him. As Sadie readies herself for her first sexual encounter, Edwin goes out to the car to retrieve their bags, only to return with Reggie and the rest of The Touchers, including the gang’s hirsute leader, Dirk (the amazing Trey Harrison). Trey decides it will be he who takes Sadie’s virginity, but, when The Touchers are exposed to Sadie’s forbidden fruit, they are overcome with a bizarre bloodlust that forces them to literally devour poor Edwin! A confused and sickened Dirk and his gang leave Sadie and the skeletal remains of her husband in the motel, forcing Sadie to seek help from her mystic friend, Casparella (Niecy Cerise), who tells her that her lady bits are cursed with the legendary “Fire Crotch”, and that Satan, himself, lays claim to her nether regions. Casparella attempts to help Sadie rid herself of her curse, but her “space exorcism” unexpectedly reveals Sadie’s true powers – powers she decides to use to get her revenge on The Touchers.

Filmed and edited in true grindhouse style, She Kills is an absolutely hysterical and deliciously deviant homage to the exploitation films that inspired it, with some of the most grotesque and gleefully offensive sequences I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot, man). The film liberally borrows from virtually every genre under the exploitation banner, from gross-out horror to martial-arts flicks, with additional nods to everything from They Call Her One Eye (aka; Thriller – A Cruel Picture) and Star Wars to Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Bonk expertly stages his scenes with a slavish devotion to the grindhouse aesthetic, right down to the period props and settings, while his actors – especially the fearless Russo and hilarious Harrison – deliver intentionally bad performances that make it all the more genuine. Top it all off with a wonderfully retro score by Emmett Van Slyke, and you’ve got one of the most authentic and audacious grindhouse homages I’ve ever seen.

She Kills plays out like a film school collaboration between John Waters and Lloyd Kaufman, filled with hilarious sight-gags, thoroughly disgusting (and charmingly cheap) special effects, and an obvious and infectious love for the subject it’s lampooning. Whether you’re a fan of grindhouse cinema or the splatter comedy of Troma films, She Kills has something that will appeal to (and, most likely, playfully offend) everyone. Highest recommendations! 

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