June 30, 2012

VENUS FLYTRAP (1988/VHS/Legacy Home Video) Review

"But you're the only guy in town who's got Moby Grape!"

Rich people had it pretty good in the 1980s, what with Reaganomics keeping their bank accounts blacker than Gordon Gekko's soul. But what about kicks? For some, Wednesday night airings of Dynasty and attempts at seducing the poolboy were all the thrill they needed, but for members of the haut monde looking for something more daring, gleefully splattering everything in sight all over their pricey rattan coffee tables was the only way to scratch the itch, and not even the toughest, most tweaked dudes were safe.

Sir Turk The Tweaked
Only minutes after closing time at Poo-Bah Records, a tie-dyed t-shirt filled with hippie is counting the loudest paper currency America's ever produced and the sound has attracted a morally nihilistic post-weightlifting Willie Aames lookalike named Turk, his raccoon-eyed sorta-girlfriend B.B. and his right-hand whipping boy Wimp, who's pretty good at 5's dance from A Charlie Brown Christmas. They're punks and their kicks for tonight are small-time robbery. Just as Turk has taken the clerk into the backroom to empty the safe, enter also Danny (shamefully milquetoasty) and Ginger (Bill S. Preston's medieval babe), who wander in through a carelessly unlocked front door. They're yuppies and their kicks for tonight are evidently going to be letting the punks crash their house party, at the potty-mouthed insistence of Turk. Turk fully expects this party to be fuckin' jammin', and if it's not, Turk will fuckin' see to it that it fuckin' is.

Whore d'oeuvres
With the addition of Rod (a stodgy Aryan Christopher Reeve) and Arlene (the queen W.A.S.P.), it's now four against three, preppies outnumbering punks. Turk wants to "get TWEAKED" -- the best they can offer is champagne. Turk wants to play "jam the camel" with Arlene -- they want to play darts. Losing interest, Turk excuses himself to go raid the house for any manner of pill, powder or injectable liquid with which he can unsober himself. Coming up dry, he returns to the living room to find his sidekick Wimp entirely nude, having been trounced in a game of strip darts. Smelling a fix and enraged at the humiliation of his toady, Turk kicks off a few new games -- Russian Roulette, assault & battery on Rod and trying to force Wimp to rape Ginger (by holding on to the waistband of his jeans and pumping him up and down on top of her like an oil derrick). Now this party is jammin' on Turk's turf! Or is it? Suddenly B.B. is sympathizing with Rod, Wimp is feeling sorry for Ginger and Turk's still getting shut down by Arlene. Where did he go wrong? And furthermore, why hadn't he noticed all the cameras hidden around the house before?

Most non-NON-heinous
Turk, Turk, TURK -- what are we gonna do with you, buddy? I am slightly ashamed to say I liked Turk a lot, at least in the context of Venus Flytrap's fairly reprehensible storyline, which infamously takes its cues from Ruggero Deodato's House On The Edge Of The Park, making Turk our dollar-store David Hess. But while Hess' Alex was motivated by a sadistic, unhinged menace shared in real life only by the psychotically ill, Turk is merely a lunkheaded asshole; all bark and no bite. He carries a studded glove that only gets used for the threat of facial deconstruction rather than actually administering it. His mouth is a veritable Petri dish that produces only f-words, s-words, homosexual epithets and sexist derision, but the tough guy effect is downplayed greatly by a countenance that can only relay either priggish self-importance or frustrated confusion. He's more schoolyard bully than heartless killer, making his eventual fate almost sympathetic. (Almost.)

Roulette's syndrome
Venus Flytrap reaches for filmed socio-political morality play but only delivers goofy shot-on-video filth. Fine by me -- I find the latter much more entertaining. But if there is indeed a lesson to be taken away, it is this: When your record store is closed, it should stay closed, even if you really are the only guy in town who's got Moby Grape. A punk's life may depend on it.

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