Rob Zombie is one of the most frustrating directors today. He obviously has a deep love and appreciation for horror, yet, for whatever reason, he cannot make a good scary movie. He is proof that it takes more than love for a genre to make a good movie. Glenn Danzig is another metal icon with strong horror influences. It is no surprise that the former frontman of Samhain would want to branch out into horror movies. The question is, how well would he fare?
Verotika is an anthology based on the Verotik comic books published by Danzig. The movie is three stories broken up by segment pieces hosted by a Elvira type figure named Morella. There is no overarching plot and the only theme seems to be beautiful women can be very violent. Danzig pulls off what Zombie was never able to do — Verotika is one of the most entertaining horror movies of the year. The first story (‘The Albino Spider of Dajette’) is a traditional creature feature. Apparently, it is set in France (at least that seems to be the accent the actors are going for).
‘Change of Face’ is the second tale, either about a serial killer or strip clubs. ‘Drukija Contessa of Blood’ closes things out. There is plenty of nudity and blood while the titular character makes ridiculous faces. Danzig’s directorial debut has little positive going for it. None of the segments end properly. There is just a lingering shot before things fade to black and Morella is back on the screen. It is odd, but there is also the added drama of never knowing when things are going to end.
It is hard to tell if the acting is bad or if Verotika is just poorly written. Either way, it is one of the funniest horror movies on Shudder. There is an amazing exchange between two police officers in ‘Change of Face’ that has to be seen to be appreciated. Alice Haig is amazing as the Contessa. Audiences cannot tell if she is happy, seeking approval, or making frightening faces to scare little children. Whatever she is going for, it adds high comedy to her tale.
Settings are also an interesting part of the movie. ‘The Albino Spider’ looks and kind of sounds like it takes place in France. There is relatively little nudity in ‘Change of Face’ despite a story centered around strippers and the clubs they work in. Danzig doubles down on the nudity in ‘Contessa of Blood’ which takes place in an unspecified country where everyone speaks with a different accent.
Verotika is all a big mess. The acting is wooden and stilted. Scenes define the laws of physics. For example, a person holds a hostage from behind. In the next scene, the hostage is in front of their captive shooting them. At least that is what is implied. All the audiences sees is a hand, a gun, and then someone screaming. There are long meandering moments that go nowhere. It should all add up to one of the worst movies of the year.
Yet, not only is not one of the worst, it is an absolute must watch. How does it succeed despite everything being so wrong? It does so simply by being so much fun to watch. Kayden Kross is an absolute delight as Morella. The stories may not make sense, but they are oddly engaging. One of the characters has eyeballs for nipples. What more can a horror fan ask?
The correct answer is nothing. Verotika is a must watch for any horror fan. Writer/director/Dark Elvis Glenn Danzig was already a genre icon thanks to his involvement in The Misfits. His work on his debut movie only adds to his impressive legacy.
Verotika premiers on September 24 on Shudder.