Virgil Films // 2011 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // May 6th, 2011
The two most infamous mass murderers battle for top spot.
It's happened to many movie fans: late at night, probably after a few beers, imagining the perfect movie. A Batman/Superman mash-up, or a horror-comedy with zombie and ninjas. As the night wears on, the ideas get more outlandish and an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach begins to dominate. Luckily, in the next morning's light, the idea for a film featuring Mother Theresa battling Martian zombies on a pirate ship is quickly forgotten. Unless your name is Ford Austin, in which case last night's drunken ramblings become a script featuring secret government projects, cloned serial killers, ninjas, and a hillbilly drunk who hears the voice of God. Maybe it sounded good on paper, or maybe Ford Austin's off his meds, but Dahmer Vs Gacy doesn't live up to even the lowest expectations.
Dahmer Vs Gacy starts off in a secret government facility, the home of the government's X-13 project. The goal of X-13 is to use the DNA of serial killers to clone more serial killers, each time making them more and more dangerous. Once they've isolated these super serial killer genes, the scientists hope to combine them into a single super-serial killer to give the USA the battlefield edge. Of course things go horribly wrong, and the clones of infamous serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer (director Ford Austin) and John Wayne Gacy (Randal Malone, The Curse of Lizzy Borden) get loose and start a contest to amass the most dead bodies. So naturally, the government sends their super-serial killer after them. If that weren't enough, Japan wants the serial killer DNA, so they dispatch ninjas to recover the escaped baddies. Meanwhile, Ringo (Ford Austin again) is a hillbilly drunk who hears the voice of God telling him to go after the serial killers as well.
Typing that summary out almost makes the film sound like fun. Throw some serial killers, ninjas, and a drunken hillbilly into a kind of action/horror/comedy hybrid and the recipe should produce a nice dish of kills and laughs. I'll even grant there's a certain limited potential for absurdity in this project, absurdity that could have produced a few laughs.
Instead, Dahmer Vs Gacy is a miserably smirking turd of a movie. The film did, quite frankly, nothing right. The plot is completely lame. Sure the idea sounds good on paper, but the actual mechanics of getting the story going and sustaining any kind of narrative are hopelessly broken. What we get instead is a series of barely connected scenes, little motivation, and plot that lacks a conclusion that is even remotely satisfying. Then, there's the fact that this is a serial killer movie. Where are the kills? We hear about a lot of them, but the on-screen mayhem is sadly lacking. When the kills do happen on screen, there's a bit of the red stuff, but nothing too graphic or horrifying. The comedy is similarly tepid; the height of humor for this flick is either Dahmer humping a corpse or a hillbilly lamely fighting ninjas.
The skeptical might say, this is a bad movie, and should be enjoyed for its badness. In principle I agree; a bad movie should be taken on its own bad terms. However, to be truly bad, a bad movie must be the result of some limitation, whether it's financial, technical, or otherwise. There's no evidence of a limitation here. The filmmakers could obviously afford (or could cajole) some familiar faces/voices (like Harland Williams) to be in the film. Consequently, much of the acting is solid, even above average for a film of this type, even if much of it is also pretty crap. Similarly, the direction shows signs of actual visual style, with assured camera moves, the use of different filters, and a surprisingly cleanliness for a direct-to-DVD feature. What this all adds up to is a feeling that everyone behind the project is faking the audience out, playing at less than their full speed to win points in the "bad movie" category. There are even a couple of scenes that get self-referential about bad movies. It feels like a cheap shot, like the filmmakers are condescending to an audience eager for the peculiar thrills of low-budget filmmaking. Instead of offering a genuine "bad" movie, Dahmer Vs Gacy offers a cheap facsimile, a blatant money grab, and it feels a little dirty.
Even if, by some odd miracle, you were a fan of Dahmer Vs Gacy, this DVD is nothing to write home about. The anamorphic widescreen presentation looks fine, with bright colors and no serious digital artifacting. The audio similarly gets the job done with audible dialogue and a decent use of the surround soundstage. Extras, however, are limited to an opening screen asking the viewer to select the film in stereo or surround sound. No commentary, no featurettes, no liner notes, nothing.
Dahmer Vs Gacy has an interesting title, and the box art might tempt the casual horror fan to give the film a spin, but down that path lies only disappointment. Not bad enough to be a truly bad movie, but not good enough to treat the audience to a decent plot and consistent acting, Dahmer Vs Gacy is best left to rot, like the corpses of its title characters.
As guilty as Dahmer and Gacy.
Review content copyright © 2011 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated