Wow - more homemade horror! Tie to crack open the canned intro. You know how this review is going to begin - to quote: "In the grand tradition of Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator, Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League and salt vs. pepper, comes Dahmer vs. Gacy." That's right, someone has decided that the horror film genre is so lacking in fictional fiends that they need to resurrect two dead serial killers (one via government execution, the other jailhouse style) and pit them against each other in a carnage laced battle royale. Luckily, actor turned director Ford Austin, with the help of screenwriters Chris Watson (Zombiegeddon) and Andrew J. Rausch (Slaughter Party), have decided to go monster movie mental with this unusual concept, tossing in government conspiracy theories, sexual perversion, and a healthy dose of humor into the mix. The result is a effort that, while pushing the boundaries of its 90 minute running time, delivers enough gags and gore to be well worth a visit.
In a secret military lab, the ultimate weapon is being fashioned. Dr. Stravinski has the horrifying idea of taking the DNA from the world's most notorious serial killers and mass murderers - Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Henry Lee Lucas, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, etc. - and creating clones. Then, these clones are cloned again, their inherent evil pinpointed and accentuated. Afterwards, the worst elements of these human pariahs will be harvested and used to make the ultimate fearless mayhem 'machine'. By the time an accident in the facility allows a couple of his experiments to escape, Stravinski has made dozens of diabolical fiends, each one more horrific than the last. As souped up versions of Dahmer and Gacy walk the streets, picking off victims and hungry for revenge against their captor, the army steps in and tries to stop the massacre. Sadly, they are as ineffectual at capturing these creeps as the man made monsters are capable of slicing and dicing. Luckily, a drunk half-naked redneck who hears voices in his head believes he is capable of stopping the slaughter with his shotgun and his always present beer belly. One thing's for sure - blood will definitely flow in splashy, splattery amounts.
As long as you don't come in expecting historical accuracy, solid acting, a consistent tone (or level of accomplishment) or normal narrative logistics, Dahmer vs. Gacy will leave you with a big, goofy grin on your wizened, worn-out mug. Like Natural Born Killers corrupted by a bunch of farting frat boys, this all over the map mishmash of comedy, crap, murder, missed opportunities, blood, breasts (mostly covered...sorry), laughs, lameness, and sometimes biting social commentary hits more targets than it whiffs, resulting in something that is bound to satisfy while giving others conniptions over elements that just seem dumb. No one is accusing Austin, Watson, and Rausch of taking things seriously and those getting their panties in a wad over "celebrating" these notorious scum buckets obviously haven't seen this likeable lark. Dahmer and Gacy and not turned into some manner of misguided superheroes, their prowess for murder making them sour gods among the rest of us. Instead, they are portrayed as stooges in a sick farce, their worst behavioral "quirks" accented and ridiculed for the sake of a post-modern macabre.
The two main "characters" really carry this film. Every time we get lost in another bit of obvious bureaucratic bumbling (it happens within both the scientific and military setting...a lot!), Dahmer's desire to drill holes in people's heads or Gacy's sicko psycho-clown show up to make maniac merry. Their individual banter is excellent, and when they finally get together, their bickering is priceless. The best bits involve Dahmer's disgust at Gacy burying his bodies in the crawlspace ("I ate mine. It saves space.") and the Gacy giving Dahmer grief for having to "kill" his victims before raping them. It's all very scatological and dark, but it's this kind of material that makes the movie work. On the other hand, the hard-nosed female military officer with a surly attitude and a stogie sticking out of her crocked craw is so one note it will burst your ear drums. Similarly, Our redneck reject has his moments, but for the most part, he's not white trashy enough to compete with Dahmer or Gacy's groove.
The film also fudges things now and then. We get the promise of other serial figures, but few show up. Similarly, the arrival of a group of ninjas allows our backwoods hero a chance to kick some martial arts booty, but for the most part, it's a throwaway moment in a movie that can't really afford them. Another problem is process. The narrative often moves awkwardly between stupid and solemn without really making up its mind what it wants to be. It plays at both fear and farce, but without a clear central tone, the schizo sideswipes are everywhere. Besides, is this really meant to be scary? Can a modern horror movie really sell both laughs and shocks the think itself successful at both? Only Sam Raimi seems to manage the balance well. Everything else weighs too heavy on wit to be frightening. Still, Dahmer vs. Gacy is a premise with promise that doesn't automatically piss it all away. Instead, it builds a nice level of anarchic steam before sliding into the scary movie standards. Perhaps most importantly, by the time it's all over we want more - and that's all a movie like this can ask for.
In what appears to be the barest of bare bones releases, Virgil Films offers the DVD version of Dahmer vs. Gacy with a nice 16x9 transfer, and that's it. No bigger bells and whistles. The image looks very good, brightly colored and loaded with details. While Austin isn't going to win any awards for cinematography or composition, the overall look is excellent.
Two options - Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 or 5.1 Surround. Either is okay, with the multichannel option offering a bit more spatial ambience and atmosphere. In both, the dialogue is easy to discern and the standard creepshow score is deep and dimensional.
None. The Disc only offers you the choice of experiencing one of the other soundtrack mix. That's all. No added features whatsoever.
You can't really be disappointed by something like Dahmer vs. Gacy. Unless you are expecting something serious or a full fledged horror epic, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the level of humor and invention here. Earning a qualified Recommended rating, be warned about a few things. This is the kind of movie that makes stuff up when it doesn't have a decent out and the whole good old boy subtext grows old rather quickly. Still, for something that could easily flop around like a near dead carp, this comic take on two of history's more horrific figures is...dare it be said...a lot of fun. As long as it doesn't strive for something more significant, it satisfies one's jolly junk jones.
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