January 9, 2019

BLOOD ORGY OF THE LEATHER GIRLS


"When the material and creative forces of women become corrupted by the brutality of the everyday world, a force of incredible violence is unleashed, it's blood lust insatiable. In this modern, enlightened, yet terrible age even religion seems powerless against the wrath of the female who is, it has been maintained, the deadlier of the species"

So says the opening narration of Michael Lucas'
BLOOD ORGY OF THE LEATHER GIRLS, a 1988 shot-on-video catastrophe that has been largely (and thankfully) forgotten by all but the Trash Cinema faithful. It tells the sordid tale of four 20-something high school girls - dimwitted Fleabrain, pretty blonde Dorothea, sadistic virgin Rawhide, and their Jewish, Hitler worshiping leader Sarah - who go about their days drinking, smoking, beating up men and occasionally philosophizing about rebelling against the oppressive systems of education, religion, etc etc etc. Our four punkish layabouts stab a man to death for no good reason, steal a gun from a cop and, after Dorothea is raped, lay waste to dumb high school guy after dumb high school guy, all in the name of... well, we'll get to that in a minute.

Now, I need to get one thing out of the way right up front. While the above synopsis may seem like a movie narrative and while
BLOOD ORGY OF THE LEATHER GIRLS has all the things movies normally have like a soundtrack, actors and special effects... it isn't really a movie. I repeat, BLOOD ORGY OF THE LEATHER GIRLS is NOT a movie.

It's an ANTI-MOVIE.

I don't know how else to describe a film so clumsily put together, so devoid of anything resembling traditional movie making. This is a shot-on-video “movie” made by amateurs so expecting careful framing, consistent matching eye lines and even audible dialogue is simply asking too much, but BLOOD ORGY OF THE LEATHER GIRLS feels like it was constructed of fragments of a dozen other aborted shot on video projects. It features an on-screen Detective character who fills in important blanks like how the girls got to one location from another or why they're suddenly breaking their own philosophical MO by bludgeoning a grandmother to death with a garden tool.

Halfway through the film, the voice of the narrator changes and I couldn’t be sure if this was supposed to be a second narrator or if they just couldn’t get the first guy back to finish the job. The direction of the film is so haphazard and sloppy that changes of location were not immediately noticeable. The film begins with freshman film student symbology and metaphor, moving from live birth to war footage, from blood covered breasts to castration. I was prepared for more of the same throughout the movie, but what I got was just a random assemblage of images which didn’t match, didn’t follow one another and didn’t coalesce into anything resembling narrative filmmaking.

Because much of the soundtrack was captured live, much of the dialogue was impossible to make out, the music blaring louder than the on board microphone could reasonably handle. In an attempt to be blackly comedic, we're treated to a pre-porno shoot bit of vaguely sexist exercise, a bizarre LSD trip and random bits of educational information about Aristotelian logic and the teachings of Thales of Miletus. Our characters are introduced working out, gazing lovingly at pictures of John Wayne and self-flagellating to drawings of Jesus. And what exactly does all this add up to?

Absolutely nothing. It's just a series of images. Characters don't speak in carefully weighted words. They speak in polemics. We're told that these women hate school, hate religion, hate their parents, hate their lives, yadda yadda, and that their actions against men are rooted in some kind of retaliatory rebellion against male tyranny

I don't buy it. Not for one moment. The shift from weird, Cinema of Transgression-esque clusterfuck to rape-revenge film is where the film earns the misplaced moniker of "female empowerment tale". I've seen that applied to this movie by other reviewers and critics. I just don't buy it. And the reason I don't buy the claim of "female empowerment fantasy" is because the actions of our cast of miscreants are not really a reaction to anything. They are, at the very best, little more than violent tantrums.

The characters flat out murder men for no other reason than they despise men. When we learn in the final moments of the film that Dorothea was not a victim of rape at all, that she simply passed out and this was all a big misunderstanding, it doesn't matter at all to our characters. "It was a beautiful experience", Fleabrain explains. Simply put, they would have carried out the violence anyway. Dorothea's rape, whether it happened or not, wasn't a cause. It was just a reason.

The fact that some people have attached the label "feminist" to this film is a goddamn outrage. This isn't a feminist film. It doesn't have a feminist message. This is, at best, "straw feminism", a perversion of the ideology usually not found outside of angry male YouTube skeptic channels where feminists are considered little more than bitter, pathological women looking to subjugate and castrate men.
CEMETERY GIRLS did this kind of thing better, getting the overall message across in a way that didn't make angry women look like bloodthirsty, psychotic monsters.

But honestly, I have no idea what the intended purpose of this horrible film was or what message it really is trying to convey. Trying to sift through the oblique visuals, ear shattering noises, constant diversions into poorly thought out black humor and general idiocy would take me weeks. Michael Lucas decided to use a pseudonym for his director's credit. He chose the name Meredith, the thought being that using a woman's name would make the film more palatable and perhaps avoid the claims of misogyny which usually accompany a film containing violence and nudity.

To that I say, congratulations, Michael. You may have dodged the misogyny label, but only by making a movie which not not only wallows in strawman feminism but blatant misandry as well.