Directed by: Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson
How come low budget indie movies from the States and the UK always come off a lot better than the average low budget Swedish stuff that I get to watch for my genre page in Cinema magazine? This is a question that I find myself asking over and over again. I think that the answer could lie in the difference between the enthusiasm for making a film and the enthusiasm for filmmaking. Because the most obvious trait that differs these movies is the way they are put together.
I’m fine with poor acting if you have a story to tell me and at least have some value at stake and at least one or more characters that I can empathise with. But for ever couple of good attempts at indie genre movies, there’s twice the number of bad ones. Some with really bad acting, some with really awful shallow stories, if any at all, some with really crap effects and some that are written as if the scriptwriters think that their audiences are retards. Did I ever tell you about the one that had dialogue about cellphone coverage and asked "What do we do if something happens out here in the woods?" halfway through the flick? Geez, talk about shitty writing, insulting your audience and an entire art form!
Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson’s freaky low budget oddity The Taint isn’t one of the bad ones. It’s a rather good one and a damned amusing one too. The Taint jumpstarts with some very suggestive imagery, a post coital encounter, an enigmatic chase, some pretty cool prosthetics and a kicking score as it eases its way into the title sequence.
Using fixed stock footage during the opening titles to show “the taint’s” genesis. This obviously pleases me as I have a section on knowing your protagonists origins in the horror storytelling lecture I give. You don't need to show it, but you better as hell know it. Here it’s served up in a brilliant way, as you will learn moments later when you are told that water is the origin the monsters of the piece.
Phil O’Ginny [Drew Bolduc] has some serious shit in his baggage, even if it's not all exposed - remember, if you know it, you can decide what to let out of the bag, and when. Here it’s kept quite hidden, but it's constantly taunting O'Ginny and tormenting him with some disturbing visions. After running from his nightmares he comes face to face with hard ass Misandra [Collen Walsh] who has made it her mission to take out all the men (and squirrels) infected with the taint. A disease that makes men who drink the water in the area misogynistic murder machines, with women as their prime targets. Oh, did I mention that they all run around with their dicks out and come when they smash rocks and what not into the heads of their chick victims!
Arriving at the base camp of Houdini [Cody Crenshaw] a right smug bastard who at one time used to be O’Ginny’s P.E. teacher, a teacher with a tendency to secretly touch the lads, abuse O’Ginny verbally and has a complete lack of empathy with anyone but himself. Obviously as soon as Houdini’s pack see Misandra they all decide that they are entitled to gangbang her, but they have to make their way past the unlikely hero O’Ginny first. Really not an obstacle as O’Ginny really is no hero... well not yet at least.
The masked Ludas [Kenneth Hall] makes his entrance into the narrative and the genesis of the taint is developed further telling the tale of how it evolved from messing around in a basement laboratory to full-scale epidemic due to greed and lust for pussy. Again this is told with some wonderfully grotesque moments and obvious provocations along the way. But there’s more gore galore to come and obviously the moment when our hero tries to rise to the occasion wrapped in the Stars and Stripes, riding his skateboard and showing his true characters, because Phil O’Ginny is certainly no misogynist… he’s something completely else. If you get the rush of insight then you can give yourself pat on the back now.
The Taint moves fast, it’s violent, at times funny, but also has a dark sombre side too. The story manages to hook me in quickly, ramming in some really wild P.O.V.’s, explanatory flashbacks and surreal O’Ginny nightmares along the way, and delivers an open ended climax that was quite satisfying, even if there still are some questions left unanswered, but I think these answers all depend on the rush of insight that you may have at the end.
Whatever conclusions you may come to, there’s no denying that The Taint is an atrocity of bad taste, misogynous, old-school gore effects, rubber cocks and a real angry hottie in Misandra who wields any weapon she can get her man hating survivalist hands on, although I’d have liked to see more of her before the movie ended. But that’s a completely different movie as this one is all about Phil O’Ginny and the encounters he makes on his journey.
It’s fair to say that The Taint is something of a survival horror road movie with elements of dark comedy, exploitation and trash cinema, where each character tells their path there through flashbacks, and it works really well. An exciting and out there piece that definitely will appeal to fans of wild and crazy movies in the vain of John Waters, Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma classics, Peter Jackson’s early Kiwi-splatters and the J-Gore gang Yoshihiro Nishimura, Nobura Iguchi and Kengo Kaji spun at maximum level in a blender for just over an hour.
Bolduc not only co-directed the movie with Dan Nelson, he also wrote the script, co edited the movie, scored several original pieces of music – of which some have a great eighties exploitation vibe going for them, he also headlined the piece and held several other important parts on production. And the final result is a great first feature to grow from. The Taint certainly has a lot going for it, there’s value at stake, interesting characters, well paced and never to long between beats and it’s a fun, blood-drenched movie to say the least.
A minor detail problem that I have with The Taint is that it’s just a too good a looking movie. This is one flick that I’d have loved to see gritty, grainy and trashy because it definitely has a great Grindhouse vibe to it, and I’m sure that some grain and grit would have looked magnificent on here.
A well spent seventy minutes if you like surreal horror with plenty of freaky moments and a non-linear narrative. The Taint delivers the goods and the goo, and definitely is a movie that fan’s of obscure, provocative and fun movies want to get their hands on. It’s a phallophobic’s nightmare, and a misogynist’s wet dream that comes together in a sleazy and violent riot that stands as a testament to guerrilla filmmaking in the independent realm, and once again proves that it can be done, as long as you hold a passion for filmmaking. That important key which is very perceptible in The Taint!
16:9 Widescreen, HD.
Trailers and a commentary track with Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson.