Slaughtered Vomit Dolls (2006) **
I could really just stop right there, couldn’t I? I mention the title Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, and you already know perfectly well whether or not you have any desire ever to see the film. But no. You’re expecting a proper review, damn it— as well you should be, if only out of the sheer morbid curiosity that such a title is sure to elicit. But more important than your expectations are those of writer/director/pretty much everything else Lucifer Valentine, who sent me a copy of Slaughtered Vomit Dolls as a screener.
The plot synopsis that follows is to a great extent conjectural. Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is one of the most determinedly non-linear movies I’ve ever seen, and the key turning points of its story are, to a one, either implied or spoken of after the fact rather than being directly portrayed. At the age of thirteen, Angela Aberdeen (Ameara Lavey, who somewhat surprisingly appears not to be in any way related to Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey) burns down her neighborhood church and runs away from home. She presumably spends the next few years living on her wits, her skill with a sob story, and her ten sticky fingers, but by her late teens, Angela becomes a bit more ambitious. Trading on the leftovers of her childhood training in ballet, she gets a job dancing at a strip club, initially with the intention of raising enough money to pay for school. In point of fact, the bulk of Angela’s income rapidly gets diverted into servicing the drug addictions she picks up, which— in combination with the bulimia she acquires around the same time— eventually ruin her health, looks, and stamina to the point that she is forced to make the switch from stripping to hooking. (It’s no easy matter to hang onto a job as a dancer once you fall into the habit of nodding out onstage, after all.) Thus does Angela open the door to her final undoing, for a young man named Henry (Hank Skinny, or so I surmise) becomes one of her regular customers, and Angela makes the catastrophic mistake of falling in love with him. Henry, you see, is not merely a Satanist (he converts Angela somewhere along the line— perhaps at about the same time that he re-christens her “Blisters”) but a serial killer as well, and he murders four women and one man between March 31st and April 5th of 1994. (I’d love to know what, if any, significance there is behind the dates, but the movie itself offers no clues, and Valentine never replied to my e-mail asking to be let in on the secret.) It isn’t obvious exactly how much Angela really knows about Henry’s activities, but she plainly suspects enough to fear for her sanity and safety as she becomes increasingly attached to and dependent upon her lunatic client.
It’s rather a slight story, even for a film that runs just barely in excess of 70 minutes. However, Valentine attempts to keep things interesting by making the plot of Slaughtered Vomit Dolls a guessing game, using erratic editing and a fractured narrative structure to disorient his audience. Valentine essentially dumps out the various pieces of the story in an untidy pile before us, and leaves us largely to our own devices to pick up and assemble them correctly. Mind you, doing things that way presents Valentine with an even bigger challenge than the one he poses for us, in that he must make sure that any given fragment of the narrative contains enough hints at the rest of the picture to maintain the viewer’s desire to solve the puzzle. He mostly succeeds in that endeavor, although those with limited patience are likely to be turned off early by the apparent pointlessness of the first several scenes. Unfortunately, Valentine’s parallel efforts to put us inside the head of a heroin addict on the verge of mental collapse are considerably less effective. The idea is a solid one in principle; a combination of odd cropping and focal lengths, slowed, distorted, and occasionally even reversed audio, and (once again) non-sequitur cutting produces a fair approximation of one of the pharmacological world’s least appealing altered states of consciousness. However, Valentine goes way overboard with it, and the various JunkieVisiontm affectations quickly lose their charm, becoming infuriating before the movie is even halfway over. What’s more, it takes an iron will to resist hitting the “Stop” button whenever Valentine cuts to the home movies of Angela as a child.
Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is on surer footing when Valentine dials back the artiness in favor of raw exploitation, and that brings us to the question I imagine everybody’s been asking since they first read the title of the film— how, exactly, does vomit figure into all of this? Well gather round, my brethren, and prepare to be amazed. Valentine himself has it that he has invented a new sensibility within the horror genre, one that he calls “vomit gore.” And indeed, the great majority of the movie’s numerous gore scenes come bundled together with footage of the relevant performers puking. They’re not faking it, either; Hank Skinny in particular (if it is in fact him, and not Allen Nasty, who plays Henry) displays a talent for projectile vomiting that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. But truth be told, to call Slaughtered Vomit Dolls the first vomit-gore movie is to sell its novelty value considerably short, for the bile and the bloodshed are but two prongs of a trident of offensiveness. Better to call it pseudo-snuff porn for puke-loving sadomasochists. Ameara Lavey— and, for that matter, all of her fellow actresses except for Princess Pam (who plays the victim in Slaughtered Vomit Dolls’ most self-consciously surreal murder vignette)— spends most of the movie nude or close to it, and Valentine devotes roughly as much attention to her strip-teases (both onstage and off) as to Henry’s six-day hooker-killing binge. Furthermore, the extensive nudity is extremely explicit, comparable overall to what you’ll see in Fantom Kiler and its sequels— an understandable point of similarity, as those films also represent the hybridization of splatter-horror and extreme fetish porn. This movie works better in both modes than any of those, however. None of Roman Nowicki’s cybernetic Slavic porn queens had one tenth of Ameara Lavey’s sex appeal (she somehow manages to maintain her allure even when she’s made up to look like she’s covered head to toe in acne, bruises, and track-marks), nor did they display anything like Lavey’s actually fairly impressive acting ability. Lucifer Valentine has something else that Roman Nowicki did not, too (apart from a vomit fixation, I mean), and that’s a competent and reasonably well-funded makeup artisan. The gore effects here are, on average, extremely good, and there’s one that I honestly can’t imagine the trick behind.
I kind of expected to hate Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, and it is indeed guilty of many of the sins I was anticipating. The plot is perfunctory; the murder scenes, though well staged, go on and on to very little purpose; most of the cast-members have nothing to recommend them beyond the bare fact of their willingness to appear in a movie like this one; and Valentine frequently tries much too hard to be clever as a director. Nevertheless, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls does enough right to generate and sustain some interest above and beyond its anthropological fascination as pornography for a fetish you never knew existed.