Ticked-off Trannies With Knives

Dir: Israel Luna
Star: Kelexis Davenport, Krystal Summers, Willam Belli, Tom Zembrod

I'm still trying to work out on what scale this can be judged. It's clearly going for the grindhouse aesthetic, with fake scratches and missing-reels: but does that entitle it to a free pass for shaky scripting and performances which struggle to reach one note? Does its almost unique position as "transploitation" put it in the same field as The Terror of Tiny Town, say? For by most normal standards, this really isn't very good. The title basically works as a plot-synopsis (though as a friend pointed out, it'd work almost as well for a synopsis of any Pedro Almodovar film). A groups of transvestites and transsexuals, out on the town, find themselves in trouble at the hands of Boner (Zembrod), a man troubled to discover he's been bedding another man. He and his gang take it out on the ladies with a vengeance, but when the victims recover, Bubbles (Summers), Pinky (Davenport) and Rachel (Belli) come up with a scheme that will let them gain their own revenge, in a manner equally as cruel.

Naturally, it has been latched onto by a section of the transgender crowd, as an empowering work which puts them front and center - and also vilified by others in the same community for perpetuating demeaning stereotypes. From outside, as someone who holds no opinion in that particular fight (both sides have good points), it has a certain camp and novelty appeal, with some tremendously-bitchy dialogue that is fun. But it gets old pretty damn quickly, and once you get past the initial shock, the film doesn't have a great deal to offer. The pseudo-grindhouse look was unimpressive when I saw it in Death Proof, and hasn't improved with repetition; the only chunk where the film achieves success beyond the geek-show level is Boner's chilling explanation of exactly what he is going to one victim. It works, but sits ill at ease with the jokey tone Luna aims for through much of this. Say what you want about the likes of I Spit (and "it sucks" would be a good place to start), its impact is in part due to its unrelenting nature, which is entirely missing here. This film isn't a true grindhouse flick, it's just playing at being one, and as such ends up as throwaway and disposable.

[July 2011]

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid...
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