December 21, 2012

NEIGHBOR HOODZ aka DEVIL SNOW (1991/VHS/South Entertainment) Review

It's date night! But if those words conjour up soft-focus mental images of putting on a freshly-ironed bowtie, buying a mid-priced meal for a nice girl and capping off the evening with some awkward, sweaty grabass in the backseat of an '88 Mercury Tracer, pump your brakes, fella, because tonight is no teenage romance. Tonight, you're falling in love with Esther. And love hurts.

I was like, and then she was like
See, Esther's going through a kind of rough time lately. She used to live with her mom, worked in real estate and her sole hobby was hanging out in her sparsely-furnished bedroom sharing fluffy, saucer-eyed phone calls with her best friend Kathy. One of these conversations led to a four-person party in a grimy hotel room and, long story short, she's a crackhead now. Also a prostitute. That's the bad news. The good news is, she somehow looks better the more strung out she gets. The OTHER bad news is, she also turns into a murderous, lump-faced maniac right after she smokes up, so hide the kitchen knives, lest you suffer the same messy misfortune as the lengthy parade of crack-addled first (and simultaneously last) dates she's already quite literally ripped through.

To serve and protect from harmful UV rays
And on the subject of her many suitors, admirers and male pursuers, it's only fair to tell you she's got a couple of other men interested in her. When they're not getting into bitchfests or punchfights with one another, a pair of too-cool-for-the-academy buddy detectives are trying to track her down whilst investigating the death of her boyfriend and sugar-daddy Wakeo. He used to be a pillar of the local crack community, but he was recently discovered disemboweled and slumped next to a dumpster by a homeless woman of considerable magnitude, prompting her hysterical, flailing, boob-swinging frenzy that threw out everything I understood about the human body's allowable range of motion.

Absolute poetry
All the best dates are full of memorable moments and Neighbor Hoodz is no exception. A crackhead attempts to share his smoke with a sleeping friend only to have his generosity interrupted by a feral Wesley Willis lookalike who's impaled by a floppy 2-by-4. Some fancy thugs deliver jump kicks to the yellow Los Angeles air while bickering over the superiority of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or "Chuckie Chan," then rob a woman of her bus pass, because that's "Bruce Lee style, motherfucker." A Jamaican man angrily berates one of the detectives for a sloppily-executed Starsky & Hutch hood-slide ("GLAH GLAH Y'WAN GET KILLED?!"), after which he smiles directly into the camera. Oh, Konami title screen. Ohhh, AIDS blood. So many special memories to carry you through those cold, lonely nights and this is still only the first 15 minutes, before your new girlfriend Esther shows either of her faces.

Ehh, I probably still would
Much too weird to simply be an anti-drug-message street drama and too light on tension and gore to truly be a horror film, Neighbor Hoodz occupies my favorite genre -- uncategorizable, extraterrestrial trash. There's no drought of shot-on-video cost-cutting here, from the crack-monster makeup that looks like it was done with modeling clay to the fringed leather jacket that shows up on so many characters in this film that it probably should've received its own acting credit. Neighbor Hoodz is real cheap, sorta dark, kinda dumb and anything but boring, just like Esther herself. Speaking of which, if you hurry, you should be able to pick her up for your date. Just watch out for school buses when you hit that u-turn and keep an eye on your balls when you're lighting up the pipe.

Chopped nuts
FUN FACT: My copy has a dead bug trapped inside the tape. I consider that a bonus feature.

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