DIRECTED BY: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel
FEATURING: Jenny Spain, Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan
PLOT: Two high school delinquents find an undead young woman and use her as a sex slave.
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Deadgirl is weird by virtue of its highly unconventional subject matter, which is treated in as matter-of-factly as a conventional drama. It’s also better than you might think; Deadgirl is one of the best necrophilia-themed movies I’ve seen.
COMMENTS: When I read any description of a horror movie that includes the words, “teenager” or “students,” it stops me in my tracks, and I groan in disappointment. However, it was conducive to the plot of this horror yarn that the two antagonistic protagonists be just that.
The pair are working class high school misfits. (I must note that they are little more working class than the jocks and cheerleaders at most high schools, who stridently compensate for their ordinariness by engaging in meaningless make-work activities and ardently conform in order to raise their perceived social status.) The two boys in this film are misfits only in the sense that they aren’t on the football team. Like all teenage boys (and girls, let’s be honest) they are also dying of horniness.
Rickie (Fernandez) predictably covets a cheerleader possessing no redeemable qualities, who is saving herself to be date raped by the captain of the football team some drunken Homecoming night. One afternoon, his friend J.T. (Segan) convinces him to skip class to drink beer in an abandoned insane asylum. Where else?
Once there, they discover an inexplicably re-animated, shapely young dead girl (Spain) chained to a gurney in the bowels of the hospital. She just happens to be spread-eagled and naked. Of course the boys, out of their sense of civic responsibility and moral conscience for upholding the social contract, immediately do their best to help—NOT! J.T., being an avowed romantic, drops his pants in a heated frenzy of morbid lust and fervently mounts her on the spot. Rickie wants to hold out for the elusive, snobbish, chastity-belted cheerleader, and declines.
J.T. turns the basement of the booby hatch into his own personal brothel, and begins regularly using the living dead girl as a hump-thing. Ever the enterprising entrepreneur, he starts to pimp her to his friends as well. In the process, J.T. discovers that she has one odd trait—an insatiable lust to feast upon human flesh. He also discovers that if she bites another girl, he will have a second, instant dead-alive sexual receptacle. With a third upstanding friend, J.T. attempts to find a suitable subject. After being thoroughly stomped by a tough lesbian who doesn’t care to become his next zombiefied sperm dumptser, he settles on a less challenging target: the cheerleader.
Now the honorable Rickie, after being severely beaten by the cheerleader’s jock boyfriends for trying to court her, is misguidedly driven to attempt a rescue. The jocks, meanwhile, have become J.T.’s clients, with laughable and satisfying results. They try to turn the tables on J.T., Rickie involves himself, the dead girl gets loose, and everything goes haywire as all of the characters realize unwanted consequences.
While the premise is bizarre, the behavior depicted is exactly what one would expect from the characters portrayed. Of course the boys mount the living corpse hottie. They don’t even need Rohypnol! “Thank you, God!” However, boys will be boys. After seeing fellow female students of mine get caught on campus trying to sneak a peek at nude male models in a university painting class, I can’t point a gender-specific finger of blame here.
In fact I dare speculate, that were I to find the right person strapped naked to a gurney with no witnesses, I might even point my own finger in a given direction for a cheap thrill. But I digress. Just like those little voices that we all have commanding us to “KILL! KILL!,” I rather suspect that most of us would secretly love to possess our own completely submissive sex slave. At least I would -just not a dead one that is blindly carnivorous and smells bad.
The only puzzling aspect to the teens’ shenanigans is that while the teenagers are so heterosexually desirous of a female, they have no qualms about watching each other naked in the act—and following in each other’s sloppy-slimy wake, which is behavior that smacks of anything but heterosexuality.
At any rate, while the premise is unlikely, it is handled quite skillfully in a straightforward fashion, as a logical sequence of events. Deadgirl is well conceived, if distasteful. It is not a film that was made for gratuitous sexploitation and campy gore. It isn’t a comedy. There really isn’t much substantial nudity or splatter. Deadgirl manages to stand on its own merits. The writers, I suspect, were merely reflecting on existing behaviors and mentalities, and pondered, “what if?”
Within the context of its unconventional premise, the movie makes sense and works. I recommend it to those with a good sense of humor, who like twisted cinema. It is well produced, but not for the effete, or those who like to project a sense of propriety by publicly condemning films that portray morally improper subject matter regardless of the point of such movies. So fans of such films as Sleepless in Seattle, Ordinary People, and The Birdcage keep away, you sissies. Go watch Snow White and return to denying that you ever think about sex or ever diddle yourselves. Liars!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“… a troubling, attention-grabbing and already polarizing first feature by directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel … DEADGIRL is one screen shocker whose ideas have and will provoke more attention and discussion—both positive and negative—than its visceral sights.”–Michael Gingold, Fangoria