Glenn Danzig, for those unaware, is the founder of punk legends The Misfits, Samhain and his eponymous metal band, Danzig. Meaning, he’s responsible for some of the finest punk tunes ever put to vinyl, as well as the odd heavy metal classic, to boot. It would therefore be a disservice to describe his music as anything other than iconic.
Having founded his own horror comic line (on which Verotika is based) and generally immersing his entire musical output in the horror and science fiction genres, it seems only natural that he should direct a horror movie. But unfortunately, what he’s delivered with Verotika hasn’t and nor will it win Danzig the same kind of acclaim.
Verotika is going to be a nightmare for the review aggregators, because it is simultaneously worthy of both five stars and one star. Verotika is indeed dreadful, but in such a bizarre and lunatic way that it really must be seen to be believed.
Before we go any further, I should point out I hold absolutely zero regard for the concept of liking a movie ‘so bad that it’s good.’ There is something inherently mean-spirited and snide about that idea, combined with good old fashioned embarrassment at your personal taste. Nevertheless, there are many times in Verotika where the first reaction is involuntary laughter, and of the many things Glenn Danzig is well known for, it’s fair to say that a sense of humour is not one of them.
Verotika is a three-part horror anthology, interlinked Tales From The Crypt style, by a narrator (Kayden Kross). The first story, The Albino Spider of Dajette, is morbidly entertaining, but not in any of the ways intended – from the stilted performances; to the appalling French accents that sit somewhere on the stereotype axis between Inspector Clouseau and the cast of ‘Allo ‘Allo!; to the barely coherent plot.
Dajette (Ashley Wisdom) is a model who is encumbered romantically by the fact she has eyeballs instead of nipples – a bizarre fact that has absolutely zero relevance to any aspect of the plot. She also summons an eight-armed, albino, homicidal man-spider known as ‘The Neck Breaker’ (Scotch Hopkins) whenever she falls asleep. It’s part Nightmare On Elm Street, part Brain Damage, part Goro from Mortal Kombat.
The story is driven forward by scenes that are borderline non-sequiturs and invariably leave you feeling like you missed a plot point somewhere, almost always ending in a prolonged, awkward silence, as if they should’ve cut away a few seconds earlier. It’s also filmed from a strange low-angle perspective, pointing upward so you can frequently see where the sets begin and end. You might be forgiven for thinking Verotika was some kind of parody, if you didn’t know how seriously Glenn Danzig takes all this Horror Business.
You certainly can’t accuse the opening of Verotika of being unoriginal and if it managed to maintain this level of abject strangeness and terminal intensity, then it would most definitely be in the five star range, if only qualifying on account of its jaw-dropping lack of equal. But sadly, the next two stories let the side down and the craziness is gone. We have to sit through a fairly rote serial killer yarn in Change of Face, and a very dull Elizabeth Báthory riff in Drukija Countess of Blood – admittedly a fantastic title, but one that it just can’t live up to.
There’s too much padding in the latter two stories. Change of Face is set in a strip club and there’s way too much time dedicated to aimless – and surprisingly nudity free – gyrating. While Drukija Countess of Blood seems to take an actual, bonafide eon watching Drukija (played by Australian actor Alice Tate) bathe in the blood of virgins, going on and on until you get bored – and that’s the feeling you’re left with when the movie ends. On the plus side, the dimly-lit blood ritual does bring to mind Danzig’s video for his song “Mother.”
To sum it up, The Albino Spider of Dajette is such an absolute howling oddity of a thing that it is honestly no lie to call it unmissable. So, in that regard… I guess you have to consider Verotika a must-see. But is it objectively a good film? Sadly, it is not.
‘Verotika’ will be available to stream on Shudder from September 24th.