The sixth feature film by Israel Luna will be on DVD this Nov. 9. It has its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. Breaking Glass Pictures in Philadelphia purchased the movie thereafter and released it into theaters in October, making it an awesome Halloween treat.
Also hitting theaters in October is the remake of the 1970s horror film I Spit On Your Grave. It's ironic because the inspiration for Luna's movie was that exact 1970s movie. Luna reaches back and takes his queue from those exploitation thrillers to make this really riotous horror-comedy.
For those not familiar with the exploitation films of the 70s, a more modern reference might be Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino. In 2007, Rodriguez or Tarantino released their Grindhouse movies, which were throwbacks to B-movies made 30 years ago and the rough and grimy exhibition that came to be associated with them.
Yet, it wasn't just the exhibition that was rough and grimy. The production of those movies was also pretty rough and grimy. Typically, if you went to see a Grindhouse, you'd see continuity errors, bad camera angles or loosely-framed shots, audio problems, scratches and dirt on the film, poor splices and even missing reels. While all of this sounds like horrible things to have in a movie, people who went to these so-called Grindhouse movies loved the imperfections and found them very endearing. That, or people forgave them because they just wanted to see all the crazy, over-the-top sex and violence, which were staples of those movies and which this movie certainly has.
Whereas guys like Rodriguez and Tarantino spent millions of dollars to mimic perfectly those imperfections, Luna really did have those imperfections. Luna wanted to pay homage to the exploitation aesthetic, but there are certain "Grindhouse" moments in Luna's movie that were certainly not intentional at least not during shooting.
On a side note, I'm not a fan of 3-D, but I would be very interested in seeing this one converted to that format because it's a film that's already bursting off the screen. If you were watching it in 3-D, especially those in the front row, you would just be smacked in the face constantly by breasts.
Saying the five main characters are voluptuous would be an understatement. Luna's camera doesn't linger in close-ups of character cleavage, but he doesn't need to do so. The boobs of these babes naturally draw your gaze. Luna does accentuate them in the opening sequence by bathing them in red-orange colors. Yet, where Luna's camera does linger is on the legs of these ladies. The opening scene in fact follows the calves of his main character named Bubbles. He follows them for three minutes. Maybe Luna has a fetish for high-heel shoes cause it happens again later.
He follows those shoes right into a night club where Bubbles, a very sexy transgendered woman, performs as a dancer alongside four others. In the dressing room, the girls notice something is wrong with Bubbles. Not only is she upset but she has a black eye.
Like a Tarantino film, this story is told in chapters, six chapters to be kinda exact. Each chapter leads us through the girls confronting the source of Bubbles' black eye and dealing with the aftermath of a bloody and terrifying attack. It's a vengeance story but two vengeances come to play.
The first comes from a man who when faced with the same scenario is nowhere near as tolerant or understanding as Stephen Rea's character is in The Crying Game (1992). The other is in the sisterhood of Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill (2003), even with the requisite Japanese sensei or at least the Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Marlon Brando in Teahouse of the August Moon equivalent.
While there's a lot of blood, a lot of hard bruises, gore and even death, it's mostly comical. Yes, there are baseball bats used as weapons, but so are high heels and even broken CDs. There are even traditional weapons used in very non-traditional ways, ways in which you'd think only a proctologist could proffer.
The movie made me smile and laugh quite a bit. Sometimes, it was at its shear ridiculousness. Most times, it was at the crazy one-liners from Willam Belli who co-stars as Rachel Slurr. Rachel has been described as mouthy and Belli provides the words, often improvised, to prove it.
Krystal Summers plays Bubbles and lifts most of the dramatic weight, while Kelexis Davenport, Erica Andrews, and Jenna Skyy complete the cast of sassy sisters that used to be misters. There was a bit of controversy surrounding this movie involving GLAAD, but that is to be ignored. This is an absolutely fun piece. Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives is the transgendered-revenge Grindhouse movie that Tarantino could have made.
While the DVD contains a nice trove of special features like bloopers, a behind-the-scenes featurette, as well as footage from a missing reel, the commentary from Luna, Belli and Summers is done with a good bit of champagne, which delivers some hilarious drunken commentary.