Film Review: Dead Girl on Film (2000)

SYNOPSIS:

A group of filmmakers sit around watching their latest film epic, a black and white lesbian bondage movie. They’re bored, and one of them suggests they try something new. After toying with various perverted ideas, including being shat on by a “300-pound sweata with a gassy box”, they are eventually forced into making a snuff movie. The filmmakers soon find themselves entering a dark world of murder and bloody mayhem, and are terrorized by a ghostly force of vengeance.

REVIEW:

Directed by: Brian Paulin
Starring: Brian Paulin; Rich George; Typhany Weathers

Brian Paulin’s second feature released on his label, Morbid Vision Films, is a fairly competent if overlong piece of DV horror hokum. It would have been much stronger if it had been edited down to around 50 minutes or so because it’s very time-padded in places, and instead of getting on with the plot, we are instead kept in the presence of a bunch of characters who sit around calling each other names like ‘hot pocket’ (it is a funny word though; turns out it’s another slang term for ‘arsehole’). Usually when a filmmaker wants to stretch the running time of his movie so that it will reach the desired feature length, he will do things like have one of his characters wander the streets accompanied by a lively soundtrack (think Combat Shock), and Brian Paulin is no exception. He follows his co-producer around an abandoned industrial shithole littered with ugly weeds and dumped furniture. Hardly the stuff of nightmares, but directors like Buddy Giovinnazzo (Combat Shock), Jim VanBebber (Deadbeat At Dawn), and even David Lynch (Eraserhead) have all been guilty of exactly the same thing in their filmmaking techniques, and those guys are considered as Gods.

I must admit, when I first read the synopsis on this film (something like: ‘Angry filmmaker decides to make a snuff movie as a way of earning some quick cash’), I was expecting something more along the lines of Last House On Dead End Street. But Dead Girl On Film is something else entirely. For a start, the fictional filmmaker (played by Paulin himself) is forced into making the snuffy at gunpoint, in stark contrast to Terry Hawkins who, in Dead End Street, films his murders purely for his own sadistic and vengeful purposes. Even Rich George’s character, who is portrayed as an unstable lunatic, just doesn’t seem evil enough to force someone into making such a brutal film. And this is another area where the film fails: the performances. There’s nothing even close to a convincing performance in this film, least of all co-producer Rich George, who prances around like a hyperactive spazz, making a total ‘hot pocket’ of himself on camera. He’s also one of those who insists on chewing a toothpick, one of the most annoying habits ever, alongside interrupting someone when they’re trying to say something interesting, or forging ahead in an argument when you know you wrong. Chewing toothpicks is not cool. Stop it.

Director Brian Paulin is no better as an actor, and he’d be the first to tell you. He’s a special fx wizard, a decent musician and director, but no actor; his attempts to express his emotions through facial expressions is truly tragi-comic. He also looks like a butch female. He would’ve fit right in to the Russian women’s Olympic shot put team. His long hair, which resembles a mousy-blonde wig, perfects his hideous look. If you played this DVD to group of five year old children, it wouldn’t be the blood or the gore or the brooding atmospherics that would make them cry, it would be Brian Paulin’s abysmal hairdo, rooted at the bowels of hell. I feel bad now for typing that. I’m being a total hot pocket, I know, but c’mon, this film was made almost thirteen years ago, he must’ve surely had a haircut by now?

The snuff victim (played by Typhany Weathers) looks to be the most competent performer in the movie but is sadly given very little screen time to make an impact. Instead, she poses on a couch in her panties and a t-shirt, only to be stabbed to death moments later. Her character remains a mystery to viewers (she doesn’t even have a name – she is credited simply as ‘Snuff Victim’), and this has the bad side-effect of lacking any kind of emotional punch. Had her character been developed a bit more to show us what she was like as a person, it would’ve payed dividends when her vengeful spirit returns to inflict its carnage on the filmmakers, because it would have benefited from viewer identification. But as it stands, her doomed character just serves as a dumb blonde ripe for slaughter, with the viewers hardly caring about what is happening on screen beyond the gore sequences that appear near the end. Overall, this flimsy film just serves as one big build-up to the gruesome finale in which Brian Paulin gets to open his bag of bloody tricks.

But don’t hold your breath, gorehounds, because the second most extravagant effect here is a skull surging towards the camera lens wearing a blonde wig (Brian’s, presumably). The most spectacular effect is undoubtedly the scene where Rich George is suspended from the ceiling with metal hooks through his eyes, followed by a slow, agonizing death by dismemberment which is genuinely impressive, and given some extra oomph by it happening to the scummiest character in the film.

Paulin’s craft improved considerably throughout the 00s with Fetus and Bone Sickness, so be sure to check those out first before venturing to his earlier stuff like this. The director also created the music, too. The opening tune sounds a bit like that old Metallica cover of Free Speech For The Dumb, and shares a similar chugging riff. There’s also another memorable tune played out to busy drum loops and distorted guitars, like a modern-day, doom-ladened Joy Division.

During the end credits a caption reads: “Anyone duplicating this movie without the permission of Morbid Vision Films will be suffocated by a 300-pound sweata… with a gassy box”. So there you go, don’t do it unless you like that kind of thing. Then, by all means, knock yourself out. Just don’t come crying to me with shit-bubbled tears afterwards, you hear?

Dead Girl on Film (2000)

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