Saturday, May 15, 2010

BRAIN MATTER JACKPOT: On David Schwartz’s "Las Vegas Bloodbath"

A Schwartz Kirby Mayhugh Dalton Production © 1989

Special Appearance by Tina Prunty and the Beautiful Lady Oil Wrestlers.

Allow me to defend my defense of the movie LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH.

Unlike my argument for HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH, I do not think that LVBB is a great film. It’s not even a good film. Hell, I might go as far as to say it’s not even a film at all.

It’s shot-on-video and from the 1980s. If you have any idea what I’m talking about, well then… know what I’m talking about. Lower your standards, grab a friend, and crack open the vodka.

It took me about a year to watch this movie. But wait… here I am talking about it, suggesting that you give the movie a chance. Let me explain.

When I popped this DVD in, I spent about ten minutes in awe. LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH tore my brain out with grainy claws and squeezed it through a cheap slot machine. Ching, ching, ching. Brain matter jackpot.

The first scene is of our anti-hero (played by Ari Levin who went on to star in nothing else but he did produce one episode of TAXICAB CONFESSIONS) talking on the phone. He looks like a cross between Lurch, Greg Brady, and Ronald McDonald without the clown make-up. In other words, he’s pretty handsome in a creepy manager-of-a-fast-food-restaurant sort of way. For the remainder of this review, I’ll be referring to the guy as Ari and not his character’s name (Sam Butler). Why? I don’t know.

It’s obvious there was no script. Instead, the director gave Ari a rough outline of what to say and then pressed RECORD. This is pretty consistent throughout LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH. I guess you sort of have to respect the director for that. He’s anything if not consistent. Besides, why waste the paper?

So Ari leaves the office and goes home driving the red sports car he bought for his pregnant wife… only to find his wife in bed with a really ugly cop (or security guard, I can’t remember). We also find out this ugly cop is a Speedo man. It’s all pretty disgusting. Ari even sniffs the guy’s shoes. Don’t ask.

Anyway, so Ari walks in on his wife’s infidelity and shoots them both with the cop’s gun. This is aided by badly timed gunshots courtesy of an inept sound editor. Who am I kidding? Sound editor? That’s like saying this movie had an advertising campaign.

Ari completely fucking loses his marbles and leaves. He drives around the Las Vegas strip in broad daylight, batshit fucking crazy, talking to himself about how all women are alike, they don’t deserve to live, blah blah blah.

Then Ari finds a hooker. Hallelujah. So it begins. Holy shit.

This “actress” is the stiffest I’ve ever seen so she may very well be a real hooker. Good for Ari. Anyway, he’s driving her around and some guy in another car gives them the finger. Now, it’s obvious that some jackass saw the “film crew” in the car and decided it’d be funny to yell something. Anyway, our fearless cast decides to not let the fourth wall be broken and so they roll with it and the hooker asks what the guy’s problem was. Ari’s response is “I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t like daytime whores!”

How do you respond to something like that? The answer is: you don’t.

The hooker ignores it. You’d think she’d get the hint. Ari is acting so goddamn creepy, strange, and aggressive, even the most desperate prostitute would have bailed out by now. How many red flags do you need before you realize that Mr. Ari Levin is bad news?

I can’t leave that “daytime whores” line alone. It’s brilliant. I’m sure Ari made it up on the spot or maybe the director/cameraman/producer/writer in the backseat told him to say it… but whatever. Doesn’t matter. It’s one of my all time favorite movie lines. My best friend and I still quote it from time to time. It’s one of those lines that, after hearing it, you cannot forget. You don’t want to forget. Daytime whores. Daytime whores. You want to know why your boss didn’t give you that raise? Maybe he doesn’t like daytime whores. Wanna know why your boyfriend didn’t call you back? He doesn’t like daytime whores. Daytime whores.

So it’s 11 minutes and 50 seconds in and I just had to stop it. I had to wait until my friend and I could watch it together. It was something you just cannot watch alone. It’s like a wedding. You need a partner or else it’s a pointless endeavor.

Fast forward a year later. He and I get to watch the rest of LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH.

Okay, so if you are still with me up to this point, kudos. But I’ll be honest with you. The first half is pretty brutal. It’s like a tooth extraction in slow motion.

Ari takes our hooker behind a motel in broad daylight and ties her up. The weird thing is, she lets him do it. This fucker is beyond creepy yet this whore is just too damn trusting.

Just when she thinks he’s a nice guy, he pulls out his wife’s decapitated head and says, “I’ll make you a deal. You give me head and I’ll give YOU head.”

And he kills our poor prostitute. I’m not really spoiling anything. Everyone knows he’s going to do it except for that whore.

Ari goes on a little killing spree and then he stumbles upon our other main characters, the most boring group of women ever assembled for any movie. We, the viewer, are subjected to the worst baby shower ever. It’s a disgusting scene of women eating donuts, drinking milk, playing cards, and spewing out inane chit-chat. They also model some bathing suits. I never knew women in bikinis could be so erection-shattering. All this goes on while Ari lurks outside.

This scene is where most people would turn the movie off and understandably so. It’s fucking boring. It’s made worse by the fact that it was recorded on VHS. It’s sort of like watching a stranger’s home videos from 1989. But with fewer camera angles and less zooming.

Twenty minutes into this party (yes, I said 20 MINUTES), they turn on the TV to watch themselves. So we’re treated to the cheapest sports show ever: the so-called Beautiful Lady Oil Wrestlers (or as the TV calls them: The Ladies of B.L.O.W. which translates to The Ladies of Beautiful Ladies Oil Wrestlers). This could potentially be sexy but it’s anything but. To call these ladies oil wrestlers is an insult to wrestlers everywhere. It’s also an insult to ladies not to mention oil.

Then the party gets REAL exciting because the pizza comes. And so the girls…they eat the pizza. We hear every disgusting chew, every lip smack. Anyone with a food fetish will love this shit. I didn’t.

Stay with me…Stay with me…

Because then Ari comes in. Fucking finally! I never thought I’d be so happy to see that Lurch-looking motherfucker.

Now the real pain begins, Danny Boy.

The rest of the movie is some of the most over-the-top misogynistic violence I’ve seen in an 80s flick. What he does to the pregnant woman…. Shit. You will just have to rent this movie for yourself. My jaw dropped. I never knew Ari had it in him. One hint: the walls are covered in what looks like white paper. It’s one poor set piece after another but in a strange mind-numbing way, it works.

At 77 minutes LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH is pretty short. I guess the director wasn’t that much of a sadist. (Unfortunately I think it’s an edited version because I saw a scene somewhere on the internet which Ari shoots some guy’s fingers off and that wasn’t in my copy. Honestly, though, if this movie was any longer…. Let’s just not think about it.)

In closing, I’m sort of defending LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH but not for the same reasons why I defend movies like HALLOWEEN 3 and THE KARATE KID PART 3. This movie is just so uneven and contains scenes that are pretty surprising that it’s worth a look. The 20+ minute baby shower scene is an exercise in endurance. Sometimes I wonder if the director did it on purpose… to weed out the weak minds that would shut the movie off at that point. (If you could sit through THIS SHIT, then you can sit through ANYTHING). If so, it’s a sick kind of genius. Okay, not really but I’d have to respect his sadism.

LAS VEGAS BLOODBATH is a badly made movie even for one shot on video. Just compare it to the pretty well-made SOV flick VIDEO VIOLENCE to see what I’m talking about.

Should you see this movie? Yeah, probably. You should probably get a root canal, too.

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