Three tales of sex and violence presented by TORO LOCO, a blood thirsty, perverted killer cowboy seeking and killing people that starred in some exploitation movie. He is showing his victims the movies before torturing and killing them with a cow skull. The first story deals with two inspectors hunting a cannibal serial killer called “The Tiger”. The second is about a ‘not-so-devoted’ husband interested in having a night of perverted sex with a prostitute in a motel room. The third is a tragical love story between a poor, little man oppressed by his wife and an handsome boy with self-destruction tendencies.
Often is the case that a horror movie, even a poorly made one, can transcend the barriers of language and still send a message through loud and clear to its audience. There are many, many low budget indie horror films made in all different parts of the world, and sometimes they weren’t made to find an English-speaking audience, yet still do via the internet or bootlegs or or simply someone paying the extra money for high shipping costs. These movies don’t give us the benefit of having subtitles, but while we may miss a character name or a joke or maybe even an important part of backstory, blood is red in all countries, and we can figure out what’s going on even without hearing it in our own language. Dirty Love, unfortunately, is not an example of this.
The version of Dirty Love by Chilean director Patricio Valladares (most famous for his cult hit Hidden in the Woods, of which he is also directing the American remake) that I am reviewing here had no subtitles, so is only in Spanish. This doesn’t make it bad, nor unwatchable, but just a lot tougher to understand (I do know a little Spanish, but, alas, not nearly enough). The movie itself is actually three separate stories with a strangely meta wraparound featuring a cowboy named Toro Loco who carries a cow’s skull on a rope and goes after the characters in the stories (there is also a 2012 movie called Toro Loco, and one set to release in 2015 called Toro Loco Sangriento, both by director Valladares and featuring the same character). Each of the three stories prominently features blood and sex and some form of sexual torture, and each one is dialogue driven, which presents itself as a problem without subtitles.
Each segment of Dirty Love does have its own title, which makes things a little easier to talk about. The first, “Eat Me Tender,” shows a girl hitchhiking unsuccessfully. Meanwhile, a couple detectives check out the remains of a corpse, nothing much more than a skull and some guts left. Oh, and what appears to be a severed penis. We get some quick cuts of corpses with severed limbs while a voice quotes Jeffrey Dahmer. And then it cuts to a dude photographing a drowsy looking girl in a dress while touching himself. Eventually, he decides to be part of the action, choking her, beating her, biting her, and then bringing out a drill. But while his perversion appears to involve a lot of torture and sadism, she shows that she might just have a “dirty” side of her own.
Part two is called “No Ordinary Love,” and we follow a guy to a hotel where he immediately calls an escort service. Once she arrives and starts undressing, we see a couple montages of S & M and torture images, presumably what is going through the man’s mind. He ties her up, then undresses, revealing his underpants that have a large eye on the front which he removes and puts over his face. From there, we get to watch sexual torture involving not only a condom (over the fakest looking fake penis ever put to celluloid) coated in broken glass, but also needles pushed into his fake part, both scenes complete with a very silly looking internal view. It appears that there is maybe a twist to this, but it was lost on me (sorry).
Part three of Dirty Love is actually the most confusing without translated dialogue or subtitles. It is called “You’ll Like This,” and it follows a husband and wife over the years of their miserable marriage. He is not happy, she seems rude and sometimes abusive, and if my Spanish is correct, calls him some very ugly homophobic slurs. As it turns out, maybe she isn’t the one for him, and we see a very strange scene of him watching what looks like gay P*rn while his face is shot with frosting, then later we get the full picture. And then later, we get a confusing shot of two of him in the same room, one confused and semi-conscious on a chair, the other performing surgery on a very sensitive part of himself. Or are they the same person?
Okay, so a lot of Dirty Love is lost in translation, and that certainly is NOT the director’s fault. But as I mentioned, without subtitles or overdubs, any non-Spanish speaking person will find themselves lost during this movie. Which is sad, because there are some very disturbing scenes in here, especially in the second and third segments, that, once put in context with a story, are no doubt even more shocking. If you’re not comfortable with genital mutilation or torture, this isn’t for you. If you can’t let your imagination work a story into the visuals, you probably won’t like this movie. But if you are a fan of the artsier side of horror, Valladares’ Dirty Love might just be right up your alley.