Glenn Danzig’s Filmmaking Debut

Underground music legend Glenn Danzig makes his filmmaking debut with a surreal anthology of three creepy sexploitation tales meant to terrify and shock viewers. The founder of Misfits, Samhain and Danzig takes on many hats with the project. He writes, directs and scores Verotika to middling success despite atmospheric visuals and its heavy Eurosleaze milieu.

Adapted from Danzig’s own comic book imprint, Verotika stars Alice Tate (The Kominsky Method), Sean Kanan (The Karate Kid Part III), Caroline Williams (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) and Cody Renee Cameron (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie).

Not to mention a litany of adult actresses filling in other roles. Look elsewhere for Oscar-worthy performances. Verotika is filled with bad acting and poor dialogue. What else do you expect in a cheap exploitation vehicle for Danzig’s brand of dangerous women and twisted horror?

Verotika is a Glenn Danzig production through and through, made for his recognizable music brand and fans already familiar it.

Serving as a framing device, adult performer Kayden Kross plays Morella, Verotika’s vampish host that introduces each tale of sensual horror. When all is said and done, Morella’s seductively sinister appearances may be the most effective part of Verotika. Each tale shares a few core traits, with an emphasis on violent body horror and sexy female protagonists often dressed in little more than fetish gear. The practical effects range from creepy and impressive, to hammy props made on the cheap.

The wildest segment is first in Verotika. “The Albino Spider of Dajette” is the story of a woman with a severe anatomical quirk – eyeballs have replaced her nipples. Rejected by the men she dates when they discover her secret, her subconscious births a humanoid monster that murders people while she sleeps. Like a poorly-made ode to Re-Animator, the rubber-suited monster is ridiculously bad and the Blu-ray’s video quality does nothing to hide that fact. The basic story isn’t terrible in theory but something ends up going wrong in execution.

“Change of Face” is about a dangerous serial killer that cuts her victims’ faces off, all while moonlighting as a stripper. The seedy tale has by far the worst acting in Verotika, a lazy and uninspired take on modern giallo themes. It’s neither sexy nor scary, despite being set in a strip club. Considering the lurid subject matter, the short becomes tedious and repetitive.

The most cohesive and frightening tale in Verotika is “Drukija: Countessa of Blood.” A tightly-made homage to the twisted tale of Elizabeth Bathory, an evil noblewoman plucks young virgins from her village to bathe in their blood. While the first two segments end up more titillating than anything else, Danzig finally hits upon the right combination of violence and erotic terror. He would have been better off expanding Drukija to a full-length movie instead of making an anthology.

Verotika is a Glenn Danzig production through and through, made for his recognizable music brand and fans already familiar it. Newcomers will be underwhelmed by the slipshod horror and inconsistent acting. This is cheap, low-budget horror with a soundtrack from a better movie.

Verotika Blu-ray screen shot

Video

The anthology feature has somewhat erratic picture quality, varying greatly between the three segments. Filmed using a modern camera like the ALEXA, Danzig’s inexperience as a filmmaker shows up in the patchwork digital cinematography. He aims for a glossy, high-impact sheen that gets thrown out of whack in several scenes. The biggest problem is the middle short’s issues with constant glare and unintended lens flares. Change of Face is primarily set in a strip club and the background spotlights end up running laserbeam-like remnants all over the video. It mars the otherwise pristine video.

Cleopatra Entertainment provides a satisfactory transfer for Verotika on BD with no obvious problems. The 1080P presentation is shown at the movie’s intended 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The MPEG-2 encode handles the over-driven cinematography without any real artifacts, encoded in ordinary parameters on a BD-25. The first short is mildly washed out, lacking truly deep black levels. Indie filmmaking has come a long way in recent years and even haphazard filmmakers can produce decent video quality.

The best-looking short by far is Drukija: Countessa of Blood with razor-sharp definition and proper contrast levels. Its rich color highlights the bloody reds dripping all over Drukija’s victims.

Audio

If you can stomach lossy audio included with your BDs, Verotika serves up a nicely discrete surround track heard in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Scored by metal legend Glenn Danzig and featuring a bevy of hard-hitting tunes from groups such as Ministry, the heavy soundtrack is bluntly effective. This is gritty, grinding heavy metal thunder. It makes sense that Danzig’s directorial debut would include his brand of music and it fits the sleazy film’s ethos. Real separation and a huge soundstage are bolstered by tight LFE. The dialogue is cleanly intelligible, even if it’s laughably poor at times.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles play in an off-yellow font, partially outside the scope presentation. Secondary audio is included in 2.0 Dolby Digital, though it’s noticeably weaker and offers less bass than the fuller surround option.

Extras

Cleopatra Entertainment gives Verotika a three-disc set replete with a slipcover. On top of the Blu-ray comes a DVD and the CD soundtrack. The included bonus CD features music from Danzig, Ministry, Jyrki 69, Fantome and others.

The BD is coded for all regions.

Slideshow (03:10 in HD) – Dozens and dozens of stills from behind the scenes of Verotika are shown in this featurette. They all appear to be from the “Change of Face” short.

Verotika Trailer (01:04 in HD)

CD tracklisting:

1. Eyes Ripping Fire (Danzig)
2. Dancing Madly Backwards on a Sea of Air (Ministry)
3. Close Your Eyes (Jyrki 69)
4. Crimson Lust (Vile a Sin)
5. Je Suis a Toi (Fantôme)
6. Allez Prenons Un Autre Verre (Pink Velvet)
7. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (Kore Rozzik)
8. Gutter Glitter (Switchblade Symphony)
9. the Return (Vile a Sin)
10. Il Est Juste la (Studio 69)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Verotika
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Glenn Danzig’s directorial debut offers little more than some sultry thrills and cheap body horror, despite an atmosphere that rips off better Eurosleaze and sexploitation movies.

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