Charlee DanielsonAnthony SneedRachael RobbinsJelena Jensen
Bad Biology
Medium: film
Year: 2008
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Writer: Frank Henenlotter, R.A. Thorburn
Keywords: low-budget, boobs, killer vagina
Country: USA
Actor: Charlee Danielson, Anthony Sneed, Mark Wilson, Staff Sgt. John A. Thorburn, Remedy, Tom Kohut, James Shell, Vivian Sanchez, Jessie Jayne Clancy, R.A. Thorburn, Bjorn Milz, Laura Pelage, Megan McGee, Pete Dicenso, Ginger Starr, Vladislav S., Jzone, Jude Angelini, Big Earth, Eleonore Hendricks, Vinnie Paz, Reef the Lost Cauze, Connie Renda, Tina Krause, Carolyn Thompson, Brittany Moyer, Vicky Wiese, Beverly Bonner, James Glickenhaus, Krista Ayne, Mar Sirivanh, Rachael Robbins, Alicia Hastings, Jelena Jensen
Format: 84 minutes
Website category: Other
Review date: 18 April 2010
I had this as a Killer Vagina movie, but that's not the half of it. Charlee Danielson plays a woman with 7+ clitorises (she's not sure) with orgasms so intense that she's liable to beat her lovers to death. Meanwhile Anthony Sneed plays a man whose penis has been so mutated by steroids and growth hormones that it's now about two foot long, has developed sentience and can punch through walls.
I don't need to say any more, do I?
In other words, it's a Frank Henenlotter film. Furthermore it's his first in sixteen years, with the last one being Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1992). What got him making movies again was a rapper called R.A. The Rugged Man. We're not talking about some celebrity cameo here either. R.A. co-wrote the film, produced it, acts in it, filmed part of it in his apartment and got other rappers either to help with the soundtrack or be in the cast. Best of all is the rap he's done over the closing titles, which is basically all about making this movie and includes anecdotes like when an actress went missing for the Vagina-Faced Model scene and R.A. had to talk one of the make-up girls into going topless for the camera in her place. Even if you hate rap, that's a song worth listening to.
I like and admire this. Nice one, R.A. You've got to enjoy the love of language in the scene where Anthony Sneed's buying veterinary drugs for injecting into his penis, for instance. The drug dealer's dialogue is like street music. I also respect the way that scene happens to include random hostile junkies whose conversation is mad and incomprehensible, for no reason except verisimilitude.
Unfortunately the movie's not so great. It's no Frankenhooker, for instance. It's got plenty of gross-out gags and nudity, but unfortunately not a lot of story. Charlee Danielson tells us about her life, then Anthony Sneed tells us about his life. They're destined for each other. Danielson realises that. Finale, the end. That's it. The good news is that of course it's done in the worst possible taste, but it's hard to sustain an entire movie on that alone. We could have done with a bigger twist at the end, for example. The final shot is so Troma-tastic that it's kind of brilliant, but we've been waiting the whole movie for the inevitable and I'd have preferred a good ten minutes to explore what might happen next, not ten seconds. This film has a 99.8% "waiting for what's obviously going to happen" screen time ratio, which is a tad on the high side.
Of the reviews I've seen, half of them seem to love this as everything they'd hoped for from Henenlotter's latest freakshow and the other half seem to hate it as a complete waste of time. The latter includes some Henenlotter fans, by the way. Personally I thought that its plot was almost negligible and eventually got a bit dull, but that the film partially redeemed itself anyway though humour and an odd kind of integrity.
Firstly, it seems genuinely interested in its protagonists. They're not just an excuse for the film to show tits. Danielson tells us all about her life via narration, occasionally even speaking straight to camera, and she's completely honest about her mutant nymphomaniac existence. She still has emotions, like anyone else. In fact they've been intensified to psycho-level strength, as she demonstrates in her funniest scene while alternately apologising to a lover and beating him to death with a table lamp. A lot of the film is examining the mating dance of the sexes, just like the similar but classier Teeth (2007) the year before, and the skewed point of view means that we're seeing this from an unusual perspective. A woman screams at being peeked at while she's naked... except that she'd just been letting it all hang out for a photoshoot and she wouldn't have thought twice if her stalker had simply walked into the room and started a conversation. In particular the film has an intriguing ear for dialogue, whether it's new age bullshit or high-school kids who think it's cool to talk as if they're in a porn movie.
Then there's Sneed. There's a kind of political correctness on display here, in that Danielson has a deranged control over her sexuality while Sneed is entirely a victim of his. This is very funny. It's a scream to see him desperately taping up his groin or trying (and failing) to hold a normal conversation at the front door. However with him too there's an emotional level. His porn film concludes with the on-screen actress talking to him as if she's his girlfriend and she doesn't mind about his deformity.
The acting is what you're imagining. I guess Al Pacino and Robert de Niro were busy. Anthony Sneed was discovered on MySpace, for instance, and he probably holds it together as well as anybody. Danielson has slightly dorky looks and one or two off-scenes, but you can't argue with her commitment to this obscene role. Arguably I suppose the acting's better than it should have been from a line-up including J-Zone, Wu-Tang affiliate Remedy, Penthouse Pet Krista Ayne, Reef the Lost Cauze, Staff Sergeant John A. Thorburn, film director James Glickenhaus, and Playboy model Jelena Jensen. I don't know who any of these people are, but just look at those names. Incidentally one of them is R.A.'s dad, a Vietnam veteran, and he's not even the appallingly stiff magazine editor who turns down Danielson's freakshoot photos. That's Glickenhaus.
What makes this film different from something like Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy is that it's not just exploitation. These people really wanted to make this movie. It wasn't just churned out for a bit of quick money and I think you can tell. Frank Henenlotter was diagnosed with cancer a month before the start of shooting, for instance, so every morning he would go off for his radiotherapy and then show up on set for 9:00 a.m. for the day's shooting. Apparently he's a really nice guy, too. What I'm trying to say is that I have more respect for this film than you'd probably think it deserves, although don't think for a moment that it isn't gleefully gross and overflowing with nudity. At the Philadelphia Film Festival, Henenlotter was given the festival's Phantasmagoria Award and said he'd wanted to make a film that was funny, appalling and "just wrong". He got his wish, then. After all, this is a film whose credits include "masturbation machine" and "penis-crawl stop motion animation".
I'm disappointed that my DVD didn't include the trailer, incidentally. If you can find it on the internet, I'm sure it's a laugh but I hear it's very definitely not even remotely close to being work safe.