Made for God only knows how little money by the enigmatic writer/director known only as Lucifer Valentine (obviously his real name), Slaughtered Vomit Dolls hit right around the same time that the August Underground movies were causing some pretty rabid debates on horror nerd boards across the web, ours included. Valentine was essentially self distributing this picture, and you could buy a DVD from him if you so inclined, and it was easy enough to find as the dude was posting on message boards to try and get the word out, again, ours included. The film was the first part of the Vomit Gore Trilogy and it did come to some notoriety upon its initial release. And then it more or less faded away only to resurface again when Valentine unleashed two sequels. Leave it to Unearthed Films to resurrect all three entries of this vile cinematic bile for a larger audience with this new DVD boxed set, now containing a bunch of extra features for those who just can't get enough..
Slaughtered Vomit Dolls (2006):
'I always wanted to become a ballerina when I grew up, instead I became a stripper.'
For those who haven't seen the movie, it essentially documents the life of a nineteen year old bulimic runaway named Angela Aberdeen (sometimes porn actress Ameara Levay) who becomes a stripper and then a hooker to support herself. As her life becomes more and more insane, so too does the film which eventually just becomes a barrage of surreal images bordering, no, surpassing what most would consider to be sensory overload. And lots of people puke - sometimes vomit, sometimes blood, but there's quite a bit of it here, and some crazy gore and plenty of frequent and graphic nudity to boot. Mr. Valentine isn't catering to the PG horror crowd here, and you've got to respect the guy for making... something.
Aside from Ms. Lavey (who, as mentioned, has some interesting porn to her list of credits), this is a film shot with a cast of unknowns by a director working under a goofy pseudonym - all signs that mainstream acceptance isn't what anyone was aiming for here (as if the title of the picture didn't already make that perfectly clear). Even by the standards of fringe cinema, however, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is pretty out there. Prolonged slow motion shots of people vomiting set to grinding ambient noise on the soundtrack cut against real time shots of a girl chucking into a toilet bowl contrasted against said girl spread on stage and looking nice in her birthday suit all hit the wall when the picture then cuts to childhood video of that same girl, as innocent as can be. Cut with all the enthusiasm of an epileptic seizure, it's a film that's been put together with such manic ferocity that it is at times almost headache inducing. But there's something going on here (and hey wow, is that a Mario Bava reference? Tell me you didn't see Blood And Black Lace before making this movie, you rascally Mr. Valentine!) - though just what exactly that is can be tough to say.
ReGOREgitated Sacrifice (2009):
You wouldn't have thought the first movie needed a sequel but three years later that is exactly what we got with 2009's follow up, ReGOREgitated Sacrifice, in which we once again catch up with the troubled Angela. More or less picking up where the first movie left off, she's essentially cashed in her one way ticket to Hell and on her quasi-spiritual journey to the place way down below she meets up with two sexy twin demons. They put her through the requisite nastiness, the type that you'd expect from a pair of twin demon succubus types, and the movie winds up making an interesting, if rather strained, connection to the suicide of a certain grunge star who took his own life in the nineties.
Maybe not so surprisingly given the title of the film, there's less emphasis this time around on vomit and barf as there is on flat out nasty gore sequences, though somehow Valentine manages to make the scenes that do involve puke even more disgusting than they were in that first movie. It all culminates in a sequence where one character takes out another using a hand saw and it's shockingly realistic and plenty disturbing. Along the way to that nasty finale, however, the movie manages to seriously up the ante in terms of the sexual content. The first movie was plenty graphic in that regard but this one treads even further into more explicit territory and will likely draw some comparisons to the recent Human Centipede II not because of any thematic similarities but simply because it's one of those sequels that just blows down whatever limits the first movie had and pushes things into even more seriously deranged territory.
Again, however, as it was in the first film so too is it this second go round - there's some interesting cinematography here and some strange surrealist touches at work that blend certain arthouse aesthetics in with the harsh content. There's definitely a noted improvement here in terms of flow, pacing, shot composition, lighting, angles and all the other things that go into making a good movie. There's also a bit more of a point to some of it as plot points from the first film actually carry over fairly well into this sequel. Yes, so much of what we see (particularly the countless close up genital shots!) is done to shock and to titillate but the film does have a fair bit of character development and manages to tell an interesting, albeit completely disgusting, story.
Slow Torture Puke Chamber (2010):
The third (and final?) film in the trilogy takes some interesting twists as it introduces us to an alternate Angela character (Hope Likens) who eventually meets up with the original Angela (Levay again) as part of the ultimate plan that Satan has had for her all along. Going into plot details on this one is tough without heading right into spoiler territory but the film jumps along in the timeline of the story in some strange ways and the film actually tones things down in the gore and violence department. Here Valentine shows a bit more focus on exploring Angela's character, the sexual abuse she has suffered in her past and what has lead to her bulimia and some of her other issues. What the film sheds in carnage, however, it more than makes up for in the bodily fluids/vomit area and in the graphic sex area, at times coming across as a twisted porno movie (it comes dangerously close to hardcore at times).
We don't see a much evolution in Valentine's skills as a filmmaker this time as we did between the first and second film, probably because the second and third films were made a year apart as opposed to three years apart, but the same knack for composition and talent for setting a scene that the director showed in the first two chapters is once again a plus for this film. Make no mistake, Valentine is out to provoke and incite and disturb as best he can and there are certainly moments here where he succeeds, producing content that even the most ardent fan of extreme horror will cringe at, but that doesn't necessarily take away from his talents.
In terms of the performances, both Angela's are well played here by Levay and Likens, two genuinely pretty women who allow themselves to be completely debased in this final part of the trilogy. Say what you will about the film's content but the acting here is nothing is not brave and if everything is taken over the top, nothing feels out of place or out of context. This is a world of extremities and as such, we have to expect it to make us uncomfortable. The three movies in this trilogy definitely succeed on that level, pushing the envelope in ways that a lot of more traditional horror fans will be incredibly put off by. This isn't the faux snuff type material that has been semi popular in underground horror circles for years, the kind shot fast and cheap on a handheld camcorder. No, this is far more polished and calculated than that, far more deliberately paced and surreal. It's not going to appeal to everyone, in fact, it's likely to appeal to very few but with that said Valentine deserves full marks for trying something new within the confines of a genre that relies on formula.
The DVD Set:
As far as the quality of the video goes, the movies were shot on video, the first two in fullframe and the third in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen, which is how they're presented here on DVD. Considering the films' low budget origins and shot on video roots, the picture quality on these DVD is actually pretty strong. The progressive scan image is as colorful as you'd want and as detailed as the source material probably allows for. Some of the darker scenes do show some compression artifacts and it's hard not to notice the macroblocking that appears in the picture, but there's nothing in the way of dirt, debris or damage to note. Some scenes have been intentionally lit to look harsh and overly bright, so you do definitely lose some detail here, but again, it's all part of the experience that is the Vomit Gore Trilogy.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks for the three films are alright for what they are. This isn't aren't movies that need a big, booming surround mix and so the two channel party going on right here does just fine. Dialogue is easy enough to follow and understand and any level fluctuations appear to be intentional and somehow manage to add to the completely surreal vibes of the movies.
Writer/director Valentine offers up commentary tracks for all three films, joined by producer No Body on the second film. These are actually fairly insightful, as Valentine talks about why he made these movies, what he was going for with certain scenes, his thoughts on some of the themes that the movies deal with and quite a bit more. He occasionally comes off as nuts, and he occasionally comes off as well grounded and intelligent and more often than not it's a mix of both. No Body offers a separate commentary on the first movie as well, talking about the production from a different point of view. If you want to know more about the movies, this is the way to go about doing that as the discussions do get pretty in-depth.
Aside from the commentary tracks, disc one has a half hour long making of documentary that takes us behind the scenes of the first movie and offers us a look at what it was like on set - if you wondered if it was as depraved and messed up as the movie itself, well... nah, we won't spoil it for you but there are some interesting surprises here. Ameara is interviewed by the director in two separate featurettes entitled It Really Hurts To Laught and Self Inflicted, and the two, who were involved at the time, have an interesting dynamic here. This offers us a bit of a trip through the leading lady's headspace and lets us in on what she felt while she was making these movies. There's also a seventeen minute featurette on the disc called The History Of Vomit Gore in which Valentine serves as your own personal tour guide through the genre he basically created. This is more than just a collection of clips, it actually allows him to talk about his childhood and why he is as obsessed with some of this stuff as he is but the presentation isn't much to write home about as it's essentially a narrated text piece. Rounding out the extras on disc one are some still galleries, a collection of Production Notes, trailers for the first two movies in the series, animated menus and chapter stops.
Disc two also features a making of documentary that, like the one on the first disc, features some on set footage and some insight from the cast and crew. Again, it offers us a look into what was going on during the production and what those involved in it were into. The two twins who play the demons in the movie pop up in Black Angels Of Hell and discuss what it was like working with Ameara and Lucifer on this movie, while Kurt Cobain 4ever lets Valentine talk for twenty minutes about how and why he went about making references to the late Nirvana front man in the movies he has made. Some leftover bits and pieces from the film can be seen in Ritual Sacrifice which is a collection made up mostly of behind the scenes bits that relate to the vomit fetish that plays such a big part in the movies. Closing out the disc are a still gallery of Ameara's Drawings, a still gallery, and the same trailers that were on the first disc. Menus and chapter stops are found here as well.
The third disc includes an interview with Hope Likens in which she talks about playing her alternate Angela character in the movie and what it was like working with the other cast and crew members on the project. Ameara also gets an interview segment here that somehow winds up turning into an almost XXX rated watersports bit, playing it up for the camera. If that's your thing, you'll dig this, if it's not, you can safely skip it but to each their own. There's an interesting look at how the practical effects were done for the fetus scene at the end of the movie that's pretty interesting as well as a look at Hope Likens eating crickets off of a cake. In the Ms. Lucy & Natas segment we get some more interview footage and clips of their work on the film that culminates in some graphic strap-on footage, and the disc closes off with Valentine reading some production notes, menus and chapter stops.
If that weren't enough, there's a forth disc of bonus material included here starting with Valentine's short film A Perfect Child Of Satan for which we also get a commentary from the director and a lengthy behind the scenes documentary. Actress Chelsea Chainsaw stars in the movie and Valentine spends a lot of time discussing what it was like working with her and she pops up a lot in the documentary. If you're into clip montages, check out Sorry I Blacked Out which is a highlight reel of sorts from the trilogy while Octo-Puke Hank gives us a look behind the scenes of the second film for the bit where the guy has an octopus on his head and pukes. There's a strange and eerie segment here called Cinderella that relates to Valentine's thoughts on his sister and how she ties into the movies that he's made while Ameara Levay: Songs Of Vomit collects some of the music from the three films together, Hope Likens shows up again in another behind the scenes bit from the second film entitled If You Love Somebody You Have To Prove It, there's yet more behind the scenes bits from the first movie in I Have To Say Goodbye (including some disturbing footage of Ameara being choked) and last but not least, Valentine shows up to reflect on his films in a short retrospective bit appropriately entitled Epilogue.
As shocking and downright nasty as some of this stuff is, there's more to the three movies that make up the Vomit Gore Trilogy than just vomiting and gore. There's a fairly personal rumination on the effects of sexual abuse running throughout the movie and while you can't call them message films, these three pictures do a fairly impressive job of putting us in the fractured psyche of someone suffering from the after effects. If this is something you'll actually want to experience is probably debatable and likely the answer will be no, but for horror fans who want something different, something that mixes up art and sex and violence and gore and surrealism and who don't mind the confrontational nature of Valentine's work, this set is worth seeking out. Just be forewarned this is not material for the easily disturbed or the faint of heart.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.