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Glenn Danzig's "Verotika": A Different Perspective, Part 2

I finally got my chance to see all of Verotika when it screened at San Francisco's Castro Theatre on September 10th. The crowd was very enthusiastic, and seemed to be more into the film itself than the audience in Hollywood was.

Re-viewing the first two segments was an interesting experience; I caught a few things I didn't notice the first time around (a tongue-in-cheek reference to Georges Franju's "Les yeux sans visage" on a theater marquee, for instance), but to pick up where I left off in July...

"Drukija, Contessa of Blood," the third portion of the film, is a distinct departure from the conventional narrative style of the first two segments. It isn't so much a beginning-middle-end sort of story, as a series of vignettes illustrating the depravity of the title character--nothing wrong with that.

As I mentioned previously, Drukija is loosely based on Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian Countess who believed she could preserve her youth & beauty by bathing in the blood of young virgins. So this segment is very much geared to those who are into the red stuff, be they gorehounds who love it for horrific reasons, or haematophiles who get off on it in other ways (remember, this film is based on Danzig's Verotik--Violent + Erotic--comics). While the Contessa is obsessed with her looks (there's one crazy post-bathing scene where she can't stay away from her mirror, compulsively returning again and again to marvel at her own reflection), it's clear that she also takes great sensual pleasure in her victims' blood for its own sake. The camera continually dwells on her as she luxuriates in the arterial spray from a victim's throat, laps at the blood running down a girl's arm, and engages in a number of other activities in the same vein (yes, I went there!). Other portions, such as her expedition to procure a new "servant girl" from the village, and a particularly witchy scene that begins as she wanders through a desolate moonlit forest, are beautifully filmed in a style reminiscent of the Hammer and Amicus horrors from the Seventies.

The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Glenn Danzig, along with Ashley Wisdom ("Dajette"), and Scotch Hopkins ("The Albino Spider") from the first segment. Pertinent to what I've written here, Danzig confirmed that he was aware during filming that it was shaping up to be a "Midnight Movie," and Hopkins alluded to the fact that all the scenes were filmed to replicate the panels in the comics (I love it when I'm right!). In other news, Danzig is already working on his second feature, a Spaghetti Western in which all of the characters are vampires (!).

In conclusion (at last!): I started writing these entries in our blog because I felt that the reviews being given the most attention online were the ones written by people who didn't really get the film, either because they weren't real fans of cult film (our fest's bread & butter), or frankly, because they had some kind of problem with Glenn Danzig to begin with. I hope I've succeeded in clearing some of that static. I think I've made it clear that my point of view isn't mainstream, and of course, "your mileage my vary," but I encourage anyone reading this to keep an open mind when an opportunity arises to see Verotika for themselves. There will be at least one more theatrical screening (NYC) before the VOD release in late October, and a Home Video release later in the year. Check it out!



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