Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fall into the sweet SOV goodness of VENUS FLYTRAP

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Review by: Alan Spencer

Director: T. Michael

Cast: Kevin M. Glover, Steve Malis, Michael Capellupo, Kimberley Kates

Massacre Video / Not Rated / All Regions /Full Screen / 1.33:1 / 62 minutes

Extras: Video Interviews With Producer Kevin M. Glover And Actor Steve Malis /  Extensive Four Page Liner Notes / Audio Commentary With Producer Kevin M. Glover And Actor Steve Malis / Trailers

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I had no idea what I was in for when popping open my copy of Venus Flytrap. The cover design is very '80s. Throw in a statue and a fly, along with a creepy dude's face in the title's lettering, and I really don't know what I'm in for. Compared to its shot-on-video competition at the time, it's easy to see why Venus Flytrap went under-the-radar. You don't get the promise of blood, guts, lurid sex, and backyard nastiness most fans have come to expect from the genre. That said, Venus Flytrap is a horror all the way. This isn't a gore epic, or a shoddy piece of crap that's so-bad-it's-good. It's is a solid movie, period, and should be taken seriously. This entry in the SOV revival is premium grade nostalgia. It's also one of the darker old school horror movies I've seen in a while. So you still don't really know what this movie is about, do you? That's what I like best about Venus Flytrap. The story doesn't show its cards until much later in the film. Oh, feel the suspense.

The story begins with a trio of leather-clad punks (a real bunch of toughs) holding up a record store with a mean looking metal-studded glove. After beating up the store owner and stealing his gun, the punks notice there are customers in the store, and they happen to be preppies. The leader of the gang spies the redhead yuppie hiding a cassette in her stocking. The punk calls her out on it, and after some arguing, the punks bully then invite themselves over to the yuppies' party already in progress. Before you can say, "Wait, why would the preppies be okay with this?", things go from bad to suspiciously worse. The viewer is thrown into a story that basically takes place in three rooms. Claustrophobia kicks in as we learn more about the punks and the preppies' life histories. What else do privileged and underprivileged kids do when hanging out together? Well, play darts, of course! The darts game progresses into a stomach churning game of Russian Roulette. Whoa man, talk about fucked up.

Without giving too much away, the story reveals its motives in gripping fashion. Watching this film made me think of House at the Edge of the Park, and the '80s slasher film Hell High. Both films feature young people confronted with economic differences and sexual tensions. Each example, including Venus Flytrap, are uncomfortable to watch in ways you didn't expect. I guess that's the flavor of the film. Like I said earlier, this isn't a blood and guts backyard epic. Venus Flytrap also heaps on themes of homosexuality. The words "fag" and "queer" get thrown around in derogatory manners. When the characters start playing darts, one of them says, "Isn't darts kind of a fag game?" One scene features one of the toughs pressured into raping one of the preppies, and the preppy can't "man" up. Everybody calls him queer and says it's okay to be queer these days. The intended female victim appears to be upset he didn't rape her. Everybody's reaction to a terrible situation is so painfully strange, the viewer can't help but keep watching to understand everybody's fucked up motives.

The interviews and commentary track on the Massacre Video DVD release expound on how the films's distribution deal didn't help the release become successful, even in the booming video market. The themes of homosexuality are discussed as well as the real meaning behind the darker aspects of the film. Massacre Video's presentation of a lost SOV classic is something to be celebrated. Venus Flytrap isn't a film to take lightly. It's not bloody or full of crazy special effects. It brings on the disturbing and doesn't flinch from taking things too far. S don't let this slip between the cracks again, or else I'm putting on my studded leather glove and coming after you!

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