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Blu-ray Review: Verotika (2019)

The arcane anthology Verotika (written and directed by the legendary Glenn Danzig; he of Misfits, Samhain, and solo fame… and based on the comic books he created for his Verotik imprint) begins with an eye-opening introduction from Morella (played with loads of satanic sass by Kayden Kross), a demonic entity that first appeared within the pages of Satanika (issue number eight to be precise, with Mighty Duke Mighten on poison pencils)… shit, did I fail to mention that I’m a titanic fan of both Glenn and his comics?

Following our intro we jump to an adaptation of my favorite Verotik series, The Albino Spider of Dajette (which featured kinetic, Aeon Flux-style artwork created by Eric Canete). The basics of the story goes as follows: French model Dajette makes love in her apartment with a man that is ill-prepared to handle her unique deformity… she has eyes in her tits where those good ol’ nipples should be! Said boyfriend ghosts which makes those bizarre boobs leak tears onto a spectral arachnid, which causes it to grow into a large, humanoid, multi-limed spider monster (The Albino Spider, played with maniacal menace by Scotch Hopkins) … and a rather evil one at that, as he threatens to enact all of Dajettes violent dreams as she sleeps!

This segment features a fun-as-all-fuck visual style akin to that of one of my all-time heroes; Jess Franco (think long takes and disjointed zooms, both of which add to the surreal-vibe of the piece), though the lighting is reminiscent of Mario Bava or Dario Argento with a splash of German Expressionism in some angles and aesthetic flourishes.

While all of that is appealing, the real question for fans is; “How faithfully does it follow the comics?” Well, let me tell ya cats n’ creeps; this is an almost exact translation of the two issues that comprise the main story of Dajette (there was an issue zero that covered Dajette’s origins, but that material is not present in the film). Hell, even the outfits worn, telephone used, and title font of the segment match the printed page (as do the titles for the other entries as well)!

Well, we are off to a top-shelf start, let’s see what awaits our eerie eyeballs next!

Change of Face sets us down balls deep within the nocturnal world of Mystery Girl, (Rachel Alig playing a character who premiered in the pages of Verotika Returns #1 with art courtesy of Pac Vinh) a cloaked and masked stripper with a bit of a sinister secret; she digs on removing other women’s faces and keeping them as part of a creepy collection… a collection she wears to cover her disfigured face!

This terror tale takes a bit of a different path in it’s style as elements of giallo cinema and Lucio Fulci’s oeuvre come peeking ’round the corners (especially with the fun practical gore effects and masked killer stalking within a world dripping with sex). There’s also a 80’s era Paul Naschy vibe going on as well… plus the story can almost be seen as a companion piece to the classic Misfits song Skulls!

Additionally, Mystery Girl has a great, iconic look; think harem girl chic crossed with the Phantom of the Opera by way of Tura Satana… a bad ass freaky femme that looks good while she rips the face from your blood spewing skull… like the kind of ghoulish gals I like to bring home to momma!

Also of note, this segment features Danzig’s churnin’ doom number Eyes Ripping Fire (from his Black Laden Crown album)… and while we are on the subject, Lamenta Lilith from Glenn’s second instrumental album Black Aria II appears in the film as well.

Finally we get an adaptation of Drukija: Contessa of Blood; a prose novel which featured illustrations courtesy of madman artist extraordinaire Simon Bisley (who also provides the art utilized for Verotika‘s poster).

Drukija (Alice Tate) rules her kingdom with an iron grip of fear… and that fear is warranted as the Contessa collects the comeliest virgins from the town, hooks them up to a skeletal alter rising over her terrible tub, and drains them of their blood… which she then bathes in.

Make no mistake, this is Danzig’s take on the exploits of legendary sadist Countess Elizabeth Báthory, except here the violence and bloodshed take center stage, along with all of the nudity, Satanic trappings, and psycho-sexual insanity you’d expect from the concept. This is like if Dyanne Thorne was in a sequel to Mark of the Devil… and it’s glorious!

This segment is also amazingly ambitious as it features a wolf, a castle, dank dungeons, horses, a twisted mass of fairy tale forest style vines, evil altars… as well as gobs o’ gore (again brought to life with beautiful practical effects work), buckets o’ blood, and plenty of good ol’ exposed flesh.

Combine all that with a story equal parts horror and dark fantasy and you have a ghoulish good time indeed!

As for bonus features, this Blu-ray release from Cleopatra Entertainment features an image gallery of behind-the-scenes stills, the film’s trailer, a DVD copy of the movie, and the film’s soundtrack on a separate CD.

Verotika is, simply put, an absolutely slavish adaptation of it’s source material with all of the boobs, blood, and bad guys (and gals) in place and thrust at ya every which way but fuckin’ loose… if you love Danzig’s comics and Euro-horror, this heapin’ helping of horror biz ghoul-ash will surely satisfy!

 

 

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