Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives:
It's impossible to fault director Israel Luna and Breaking Glass Pictures for issuing Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives - it's probably the best title ever for an exploitation movie (OK, tied with I Dismember Mama). Things get tricky, however, when you try to figure the damn movie out. I'll offer this; Trannies is transgressively charming, alternately frustrating and enchanting, and probably like nothing you've ever seen before. Forgiving lovers of sleaze cinema will find this movie surprisingly worth the effort, as long as you can put up with the parts that aren't.
I'd say it's hard to really separate part from part, to extract the fabulous from the detumescent, except that Luna's already done that for you. By neatly splitting his film into utterly schizophrenic chunks, Luna has made it possible for you to simply skip the bits of movie you don't like to get to the good stuff. With a movie this conflicted, it's up to you to decide which parts you enjoy, but for the true Cinema Adventurer, you have to watch it all in order to achieve the full effect.
In a nutshell, (or sack) a group of friends - transgendered performers at a bar - meet after their show to aimlessly dish for approximately 15 minutes of screen-time. While this is good for establishing that gay men excel in the art of the well-timed putdown, these scenes go on for a bewilderingly long time, long enough to make viewers wonder what exactly is going on. But then, after our protagonists agree to hook up with some suspiciously rough trade, we suddenly enter Greg Araki's Doom Generation territory, as it becomes clear our heroines' dates want nothing more than to beat, humiliate, and kill them. Such deadly serious scenes (there are more than one) rise to horrific verbal heights, with a few baseball-bats-to-the-head for good measure.
And just when you think you're in for some serious rape-revenge action, (or whatever) the jokes start flying again. In truth, it's impossible not to laugh at many of these bon mots. The girls are good when the material is, and especially when you're listening to subtly named characters like Emma Grashun, (Hispanic actor Erica Andrews) Bubbles Cliquot, (Krystal Summers) Pinky La'Trimm, (Kelexis Davenport) and Rachel Slurr (William Belli). But then we veer into emotionally charged hate-crime territory again, and then back into sex jokes. By the time the government mandated triumphant battle royale closes the movie, you can't help but care what happens, can't help but laugh at the ultra-low-budget ultraviolence, and can't help but bemusedly scratch your head.
I mean, what the hell did I just watch? Was it a horror movie? A Rape-Revenge flick? A Comedy? Or a LGBTG PSA? Despite decisions from production to fully infuse the film with a grindhouse aesthetic, including fake film damage, grain, reel-change markers and jacked-up splices, the film is far too genre bending and modern to really be classified. It remains to be seen if a film that defies categorization can be cohesive, too, because this one isn't it. Despite that and other problems that plague low-budget pictures - at times amateur acting, often-indecipherable sound - Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives remains resolutely its own beast, for out-there aficionados a true cinematic joy-ride of bizarre proportions and intent.
Though a super-low-budget film, Trannies won't tick you off on DVD. The 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen presentation looks pretty decent despite its semi-shabby source. Lighting ranges in quality, leading to some kind-of orange looking tones, and otherwise it's not the tightest image around. It seems like faux film damage has been added, which enhances the sleaze factor, and makes the DVD an overall decent viewing experience.
My DVD player thinks I'm listening to a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, but packaging indicates a 5.1 mix. (Since I couldn't reproduce 4.1 with what I have, I will take the case's word for it. We're not talking about a sudden infusion of cash just for sound, meaning there are plenty of scenes where audio is a little muddy, but nothing too aggravating. Heavy guitar rock crops up occasionally, with force. In all, we get a nice, atmospheric mix with decent dialog levels.
Yes, the folks at Bryn Mawr were right, and there are plenty of extras, including a Commentary Track with writer/director Israel Luna, producer Toni Miller, plus Willam Belli and Krystal Summers, which continues to revel in dishing and trash-talk humor, plus reminiscences and a decent amount of actual production information. 12 minutes of Bloopers contain plenty of unintentional laughs, while the Nacho & Chuey Show is 14 minutes of silly BTS humor, with the actors who portray the title pair never dropping their Latino gangster personas. Sadly, I found it highly entertaining. Chapter 4: The Red Pen is a nine-minute deleted scene, and the 26-minute Behind The Scenes Featurette does a fine job of covering pretty much everything while increasing your respect for the everyone involved. Nicely sleazy Trailers round things out.
Not only does Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives have possibly the best title ever, it has one of the best end-credits sequences - really icing the odd cake - and it also trashes more literal and figurative ground than any movie I've seen lately. Something of a graphic-horror-revenge-sex-comedy with an aggressively low-budget vibe, Trannies confounds all expectations. While some performances don't hit the spot, the look is a bit grim (cinematically, anyway) and the lack of cash certainly shows, it's in a class by itself; profane, ridiculous, hilarious and disturbing - ultimately this DVD release merits a cautious Recommended rating.
- Kurt Dahlke
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