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Case Number 12238: Small Claims Court

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Experiment In Torture

Lionsgate // 2007 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // October 19th, 2007

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker got a cheap chemistry set for his twelfth birthday—the "topless dancers not included" model.

The Charge

Every artist has his own technique.

The Case

And anybody with a bucket of stage blood and a camcorder has a friend at Lionsgate, which gives us yet another gratuitously gruesome direct-to-video muffin basket.

This one is the old Saw about some strippers who become weekend Turistas at a lakefront estate, but find the reception decidedly Hostel. Instead of party games and fetish films, they find themselves victims of an Experiment in Torture!

First, a little background on Experiment in Torture: There is none. This is the first film I've seen that had no listing at all on IMDb.com. I found this alarming since everything is listed on IMDb. You could probably find home movies of your family reunions on IMDb.

So I decided to check the credits of the filmmakers. I came up with nothing for Director Sean MacArthur (or McArthur, as he's listed on the DVD case), but lead actor Brendan Connor is, as of this writing, in pre-production for a film called Torture Farm, about a bunch of young women taken to a farm and, uh, tortured. Both Torture Farm and Experiment in Torture have screenplays by B.C. Hickey—Brendan Connor's nom de filme plume.

Is it possible that B.C. Hickey/Brendan Connor had not one, but two torture-the-ladies flicks in him?

Is it possible that they started shooting Torture Farm, found out one of the girls was allergic to hay, and just shifted everything to the lake?

Is it possible that I didn't actually watch Experiment in Torture, that this film doesn't exist, that this is all just a horrible direct-to-video nightmare?

If only.

EiT gives us the most chaste strippers in the history of low-budget exploitation. They don't strip at work. They don't strip at the lake. They play truth-or-dare and don't strip. They go on a boat ride—they don't strip. They even take showers with their bathing suits on! At least the sadistic madman who lured them to the lake respects their modesty, because when the torture portion of our story kicks in, our helpless honeys are abused—you guessed it—fully clothed.

Of course, much of the torture is strictly non-contact, brought on by some mysterious white powder that causes paralysis, another white powder that causes nausea, and still another that causes itching and blistering when wet.

While the filmmakers don't name these powders, they're not always so cagey: In an early scene—a prologue, actually—a girl who is being attacked reaches into a bag, takes out a bottle with the words "HYDROCHLORIC ACID" scrawled on it in black magic marker, and cracks it on the noggin of her attacker. This scene, like so many other violent scenes, is shot in a shaky, handheld style that I'm guessing is supposed to build tension but only looks like the camera is being tossed around by the Harlem Globetrotters.

Incidentally, if you're interested in following the plot, pay attention to this scene, as characters who appear for all of three minutes factor into the denouement an hour or so later.

Yes, there actually is a plot here. Well, ideas for a plot. OK, patches of dialogue in which people talk about things that we should be seeing and that make no sense in the context of what we are seeing, but if we were seeing them and they did make sense would constitute a plot.

Here's the funny thing about EiT: like so many of its dtv brethren, had they put a little effort into telling a story, this wouldn't have been half bad. It mightn't have been half good, but at least it would have been cohesive. There actually is some kind of a story here, something about torturing strippers in the name of art, but instead of doing anything with it, we get endless scenes of non-topless topless dancers frolicking, chuckling, chattering, and reading tarot cards, along with more excruciating musical montages than an episode of the The Partridge Family.

As has become the norm from Lionsgate, we get a good transfer and acceptable audio, and thematically similar trailers for extras. These trailers are for other torturesploitation offerings, including the dreadful Captivity, the experiment in degradation from formerly good director Roland Joffé (The Mission).

If you are only going to see one movie this year about over-dressed strippers lured to an island and tormented by maniacs, it might as well be Experiment in Torture.

If it exists.

Or, you could take a pottery class.

Very guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailers

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