Steve Newall had a highly entertaining time watching Glenn Danzig’s erotic horror anthology Verotika, but it might not be to everyone’s taste. Their loss?
I’ve waited ages to see Verotika after seeing some earlyreports about this horror anthology, doubling as the directorial debut of Misfits and Danzig frontman Glenn Danzig. Ladies and gentlemen, Verotika is now streaming exclusively on Shudder, and it does not disappoint—depending on how you respond to these seven reasons why you should (or shouldn’t) watch it.
1. It’s been frequently compared to The Room
That’s not to say Verotika is a contender for worst movie ever made. It might not be quite as oddly endearing as Tommy Wiseau’s effort, but shares similar storytelling and technical… issues. It also comes across as a testament to the indomitable spirit of a creator that will not, cannot, quit. In getting a group of friends together and marveling at what is unfolding in front of you, there is plenty to take in.
2. Danzig hasn’t made a movie before – and it shows
From shots that go on for one, two, three beats too long, to actors looking lost onscreen (more on the cast in a tick) to camcorder-like zoom shots and crossing the line—it’s obvious Glenn Danzig has seen movies and is trying to emulate what a movie is, but Verotika isn’t always too great an impression of one.
Don’t worry about him throwing in the towel though, in an interview Danzig said “I said I think I’m gonna do three movies and then decide if I want to keep doing it … I’m already getting ready to do my next one which is a vampire spaghetti western. Everybody’s vampires in it. So after that I’ll see what I wanna do. Then I’m gonna sit and decide if I wanna keep doing it or not.”
3. The acting is terrible
There aren’t a ton of recognisable acting credits among the cast (unless you count Morella, narrator of the anthology, played by multi-award-winning adult performer and director Kayden Kross). The actors probably didn’t get a ton of help from Danzig, who really throws his inexperienced cast under the bus in the first chapter by not just requiring them to act, but to do so in a French accent. The results span many different accents, often within the same sentence—nowhere does it seem essential that the story takes place in Paris (not least of all when we see a theater marquee adorned with the words “Los” and “Angeles”).
In a later chapter, I also felt waves of sympathy for an actor who seemed to be having a bit of an unpleasant physical reaction to the fake blood she was smearing on herself, and later made a really good effort to pretend she was eating an extremely rubbery and unchompable prop heart.
4. It’s named after Danzig’s comic imprint Verotik, a portmanteau of “violence” and “erotic”
The name suggests a level of obviousness that is also completely free of guile, and it may come as no surprise to learn that while Danzig has had a lifelong love affair with comics, his ambitions to be a comic book writer and artist went unfulfilled until he founded his own company.
Yes, you’re probably right in thinking that this film is the realisation of similarly-impeded cinematic aspirations.
5. It features some of the least-erotic erotic dancing this side of Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls
Danzig clearly has some experience with dancers as you’ll see in the video for 1988’s She Rides below. It opens on a shot of a thong-clad butt and goes on to showcase several women dancing while the band performs, the men wearing only marginally more clothes (but not quite subjected to the same gaze).
In Verotika, an erotic dancer dances clad in a mask because [SPOILER]. She and her co-workers take up a bit of screen time as they punch the clock onstage but don’t seem to be having a particularly good time, and neither does anyone else. At least it’s not uncomfortably sexual, but it is weird.
6. The first story in the anthology is about a woman with eyeballs instead of nipples. They cry, and then a tear falls on a spider which grows into a vengeful and violent humanoid expression of her subconscious
(Also, the humanoid spider costume is ridiculous).
7. Danzig’s been a pretty good sport about everything
When Verotika debuted at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival, a crowd full of genre fans was in hysterics. “You guys laughed at the stuff I wouldn’t have laughed at,” he’s reported to have said “but that’s cool.” He also told the audience “I don’t wanna direct some Academy Award piece of shit.”
I hope that’s cleared everything up
For the record – I am super glad I saw this, and can’t wait to see what Danzig does next, even if it isn’t “a vampire spaghetti western” where “everybody’s vampires in it”.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk on the merits of Verotika.