Brain Damage Films is a new UK DVD imprint devoted specifically to releasing budget-priced (£2.99 per disc) indie horror.
So brace yourself for the onslaught oh, humble horror fan! Oh yes, Indie Horror: two words guaranteed to stamp fear and sear terror into the hearts of all right-thinking folk. A blitz of shaky video cameras, gracelessly grainy DV and "acting" of such dubious quality it becomes almost a strange new kind of radical art form, awaits you all ...
First out of the stalls then, "Torture Me No More" -- apparently a grungy homemade torture porn entry in the bleached-out style of Abel Ferrara's "Driller Killer"; in reality, a very, very peculiar piece of work indeed; produced, directed and written (and edited and shot, and he does all the music himself as well, Jesus Christ!) by someone called Francis Xavier DeGennaro.
I'm still not entirely sure to what degree this film is actually meant to be as deranged and eccentric as it undoubtedly is. Maybe this is simply a work of almost incalculable poor taste, creatively misconceived on a truly magisterial scale. Remember that inept section in "Last House on the Left" (Wes Craven's original, not the recent remake, of course)? the bit with the two bumbling cops and their poorly judged slapstick comedy routine? I mean we all like a good chuckle after watching a girl forced to pee herself at knife point, don't we! Remember, also, the weirdly misjudged tone of the acting style throughout that film, particularly the parents of the two murdered teenage girls? Well, times all that a hundred-fold and you come somewhere near envisioning the sheer inappropriate nuttiness of this grainy little video-shot effort.
Or maybe it really is meant to be like this? Really inappropriate Troma-style bad taste humour rubbing up against the most unpleasant sick-making sleaze you can imagine ... Hell, I've really no idea anymore! One thing I do know though: whichever way you look at it, "Torture me No More" is as loopy as a very big box of fruit loops.
Sal (Jason Liebig) is an ex computer hacker, recently released from prison and now working in a nursing home that looks after the educationally challenged (to use the 'politically correct' term). His brother Chancey (Cullen Carr) is of similar temperament -- a child trapped in an adult's body. Sal moves in with him to help with his day to day care. Next door live to offensively stereotypical gay men who sing bad musical numbers to each-other and mince about in an exaggeratedly camp manner. They're also really nosy snoops. When Sal nips out to buy some pizza and beer for a lad's night in with his bro, a nutter who likes to rape little dogs (no, I am not making any of this up, I swear!) breaks into Chancey's apartment, tempted by the alluring bark of his two yapping pets. After being caught in the act of menacing one of these unfortunate mutts, he murders Chancey.
Now the entire plot is made to hinge on a rather unlikely coincidence: the killer happens to look exactly like Chancey's absent brother Sal! Not only does he look the same, he also dresses exactly the same and shaves his facial hair in exactly the same style as well! Those snooping next-door neighbours, hearing a lot of noise coming from Chancey's house, peek through the window and think they're seeing Sal murdering his own brother, whereupon they call the cops.
But now things get really weird.
The Cops. Jesus. The cops! First of all, perhaps in a deliberate satirical dig at those old cop shows where all the players were male with only one token female cop thrown in as an afterthought, all the police in this film are women -- although there is one male cop who, for the most part, just answers the phones! This reversal can hardly be said to result in a positive representation of women in power, though. Detectives Kellerman (Joanna Bonaro) and Fischer (Anna Kepe) are a rather odd pair, engaged in a perpetual war of one-upmanship with their chief, Rousseau. Fischer is a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed creature with an indeterminate accent (it is meant to be English, according to the script). Her partner, Kellerman, is a dippsy, lazy and probably quite perverted oddball, whom Fischer treats with disgusted contempt, dropping lines such as "you have stinking garbage for brains, and it goes right down to your stupid fucking pussy!"
Acting on the information given them by Sal's egregiously camp next-door neighbours, Kellerman and Fischer drag him away from his brother's strangled corpse and bring him in for questioning. After a failed good cop, bad cop routine (they're both unutterably bad cops, after all), Sal punches the unpleasant Kellerman in the face after she taunts him over his "dead retard brother". She rather enjoys it, but the upshot is that Sal escapes custody and goes on the run. Kellerman and Fischer deliberately bury the lab report that would easily clear Sal and finger the real culprit (who is already on police files), for no other reason than that they can't be bothered with the dull routine of the paperwork!
Now things get even weirder.
While the real killer get his rocks off with the remains of one of Chancey's pet dogs (!) and murders the odd female passer-by to boot, Sal manages to get hold of a computer programme from his work bag with the help of one of the residents of his nursing home, known as Babe (Duncan Wright). The programme seems to establish a video link with another gay duo who, for no particular reason, inform him that if he wants to find his brother's killer, he should make contact with the denizens of a certain underground SM club. Why a face-recognition programme should be personally hosted by two gay fashionista who somehow have unlimited knowledge of all U.S. criminal activity, is a question viewers will be already too bamboozled to consider very deeply by this stage in the proceedings.
A sleazy guy called Fachio (Chris McLamore) who makes snuff movies, apparently knows all about the SM club, so Sal pays him a visit at his run-down tenement offices. This comes much too late for an innocent young actress called Delilah (Kristen Doran) though!
Up till now, the tone of the film has been unusual to say the least. I'm guessing you've probably gathered that. Although the grungy video quality speaks of old-style video nasty, the general tone of the delivery is that of a bad '70s sit-com whose cast have been forcibly scoobered with bad weed leavened by a dose of hallucinogens. Almost exactly halfway through though, the tone seems to radically shift, taking a very uncomfortable turn into unpleasant sexual torture. We first encounter the delightful Fachio abusing a prospective actress (Delilah) in front of a video camera, anal raping her with a lethally sharp, serrated metal "crown" attached to his member! Sal enters the joint before Fachio can finish her off, and is so angered by the sight that confronts him in the blacked out studio that he beats the guy up and tortures him, hammering heavy nails through his palms, as the snuff movie maker had planned to do to Delilah eventually.
Babe gives Sal the keys to his out-of-town brother's apartment, where he then keeps the injured Fachio prisoner, continuing to torture him in the basement in an attempt to get information on his brother's murderer, who apparently is a member of Fachio's SM club. When Delilah wakes there, at first she's understandably weary of Sal, unwilling to trust any man after the awful things that have happened to her. But when she discovers what is going on in the cellar, her initial disgust soon turns to fascination. She and Sal become lovers, and become a sort of vigilante Bonnie & Clyde, targeting child molesters, murderers and rapists and administering their own harsh brand of justice, which involves carting them all back to the basement and torturing them, something they clearly enjoy doing! (They learn their new trade from Fachio's own torture manual — a self-published tome, presumably)
Things get slightly hairy though when Babe's brother finally returns to his flat, only to find it has been turned into a makeshift torture chamber for perverts!
After its brief detour into seriously nasty torture porn, the film turns returns back to its original scatty, desperate-to-be-funny guise. The 'comedy' female cop duo continue with their feckless investigation (when they find Fachio's tape of his anal rape of Delilah, they laugh and are turned on by it!), leaving their boss to sort out their many cock ups; meanwhile Sal and Delilah continue to home-in on Chancey's dog lovin' killer. With its retinue of completely unsympathetic characters, weird acting styles and strange attempts at humour, "Torture Me No More" is definitely a bit of a mess, to say the least. It has a certain did-I-really-just-see/hear-that?! sort of charm though. Those who like their flicks cheap, nasty and off the wall will do no better than this effort.
The disc's extras consist of a wide selection of trailers for other titles in the Brain Damage catalogue.