The Disco Exorcist

Certificate: 18
Running Time: 80 minutes
Director: Richard Griffin
Starring: Michael Reed, Sarah Nicklin, Ruth Sullivan
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Country: USA

When smooth-mover Rex Romanski ditches sexy witch Rita on the dance floor in favour of his dream woman, pornstar Amoreena Jones, he’s suddenly the target of revenge…voodoo, zombie themed revenge!

A few years back when I was programming the Movie Bar we tried to book The Disco Exorcist as one half of an indie cinema double-bill.  In the end communication seemed to vanish into the ether before ultimately the screening (and season) was cancelled but that attempt is not only a sign of the kind of film The Disco Exorcist is but also the level of accomplishment and genuine skill that’s involved in this Comedy/Horror.

Narratively, The Disco Exorcist has something of a straight-forward concept; suave swinger screws more than Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor, then gets his comeuppance.  There are some excellent set-pieces involved in the movie but these, for the most part, occur in the first and third arc with the middle section more than a little one-tone.  For the most part though the script is well-conceived and littered with some great one-liners not to mention a few excellent scenes including some gloopy moments in a stroke cinema (porno theatre).  Yet it’s the visual aesthetic that allows The Disco Exorcist to really showcase Tony Nunes’ screenplay and director Richard Griffin’s vision.  The look of the film is aged, intentionally aged –like the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse and George Clarke’s Splash Area.  Other films have attempted this distressing of digital footage in order to give it the look of 35MM that’s been around the block (not to mention quick a few butcher’s hands) more than what it’s worth.  The key to this is knowing how showy you can afford to be.  Too much distress and it suddenly begins to become a character on screen and detract from the film but Griffin’s instincts are strong.  The film has the look of The Disco Godfather, the gore of Braindead and all of the charm of Forty-Second Street and some sharp contemporary humour to boot and there’s even a funky original score!

TDE has some of the strongest performances you’ll find on the independent circuit.  Michael Reed (as Rex Romanski) has a relaxed charm, confidence and cool that is brilliant.  Simply brilliant.  He’s an actor I haven’t seen a lot of and based on this performance is one with a real future in front of him.  Sarah Nicklin (Amoreena) and Ruth Sullivan (Rita Marie) showcase two very different female characters, each with a screen presence that has the audience seek them out whenever they are on screen.  Everyone is blown away, however, by the supreme excellence that is Babette Bombshell (as porn director Bernie Munghat).  I’ve seen nothing of the Cockhammer star before but I’m still reeling from his performance.  Bombshell is reminiscent of everything that was over-the-top, loud, confident, and brilliant about John Waters (Pink Flamingos) in his heyday.  Having witnessed his excellence (in only a few scenes) I will be waiting with breath a-bated to see what he does in Model Hunger this year.

Richard Griffin's (director of Nun of That and the forthcoming Accidental Incest) film struts a fine line between The Exorcist pastiche and incredible homage to Exploitation cinema.  There are a few moments that could do with a little more pace, and the middle third seems to wander –but the strength of the final twenty minutes of the film allows for this minor issues to be overlooked.  Griffin has managed to create something unique.  A modern day Exploitation offering that tips its hat to the annals of history while at the same time confidently stands up and succeeds on its own merits.


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