Director - Drew Bolduc, Dan Nelson
Cast - Drew Bolduc, Colleen Walsh
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 2
Distributor - Troma
Reviewer - Bobby Morgan
Date - 04/10/13
The Film: 4/5
Something strange is going on. Men everywhere are turning into psychotic monsters with bloody spurting penises, killing women with a variety of messy and brutal methods. Gun-toting slacker Phil O'Ginny (Drew Bolduc) finds himself thrown in the thick of the chaos one beautiful afternoon. While being chased by a crazy old man wielding a scythe and soiling his long johns Phil encounters Misandra (Colleen Walsh), a female survivor who had to murder her own husband once he turned into one of the killer "Misogynists". She has been able to deduce that whatever virus is turning the men into women-murdering psychopaths resides in their water supply. As Phil and Misandra struggle to survive in a world gone man mad they meet up with several bizarre characters, including Phil's deranged macho ex-gym teacher Houdini Johnson (Cody Crenshaw) - now the leader of a crazed gang of rapists with names like Chili Dog and Alligator Fuckhouse - and Ludas (Kenneth Hall), a mysterious masked man who knows the horrifying truth behind "the Taint".
Forget that Spielberg Lincoln crap. The Taint has to be the best movie ever made in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Until I watched the new Troma Blu-ray just recently I had only known of this movie by its sordid reputation as one of the most shockingly violent and gory independent horror films made in recent years. Reviews compared it to 1980's splatter classics like Basket Case and Street Trash. It had been ages since I had seen a movie that had the balls to be as gratuitously gruesome and unapologetically offensive as those two flicks - with the superb filmmaking talent to back those qualities up hardcore. The Taint is a movie that would gladly be accepted into that twisted cinematic fraternity. It overflows with blood and the severed limbs are ripped and hurled with such gusto you might get the sudden urge to duck behind your couch. Had The Taint been released during the decade that gave us Reaganomics, the music of Culture Club, and the comedic stylings of Yakov Smirnoff, theater owners would have been required by law to provide audience members with complimentary vomit bags. Though many people worked on the movie, The Taint was birthed into existence mostly by one man, and that is Drew Bolduc. Bolduc not only wrote and directed this movie, but he also served as a producer, executive producer, film and sound editor, music composer, and was his own leading man. That last part guarantees that the director won't have many problems dealing with the star of his film. The Taint is cleverly constructed in the storytelling and amateurish only in the way that its flaws are more apparent than most films due to its limited budget and Bolduc's cast and crew of filmmaking neophytes. But even those shortcomings are outweighed by the movie's vast ambitions and virtues, not to mention its plentiful gore effects.
The Taint is one of the few horror movies I've seen in recent memory that feels timely given its subject matter. The male species as a whole has always had a problem accepting women as equals and seeing them as anything but objects of desire. Granted, not all men are like that. But even to this day, especially here in the supposed land of the free, women have to struggle every damn day to be afforded the same basic human rights as men. The presidential election of last year saw the Republican Party launching a virulent political offensive against the women of this country while vehemently denying that no such thing was occurring. And yet we still had prominent conservative extremist politicians and media figures excoriating the same female voters they expected to keep them in power over issues like abortion and contraception. Male politicians were going on television, in front of television cameras, where every word they said would be recorded and broadcast to millions of viewers and then uploaded to the Internet to become viral video sensations, and claiming that only they knew how women's bodies worked and pregnancies from rape were a gift from up on high. Meanwhile, every time you turn on the news or open up a news site online chances are you will immediately see a story about victims of rape being attacked on social media networks for daring to come forward in the first place because their attackers were popular athletes. Most of us guys tend to be a greater deal more progressive and open-minded than others, but we're surrounded by self-righteous assholes who get voted or buy their way into positions of power and authority so they can enact legislation that severely cuts down on rights for women, all the while being cheered on by their sycophantic followers on talk radio, cable television, and radical wingnut websites. And the rest of us, those with brains and hearts who feel for those women being kept down by the ruling male power elite, will forever be associated with this He-Man Woman Haters Club no matter how badly we wish to be as far away from it as humanly possible. And thus ends my intellectual rant.
With our society and culture waging a never-ending battle against the regressive forces of the anti-women movement a movie like The Taint was not only inevitable; it was more than welcome. Bolduc's movie gives us a look at a frightening vision of a world where women are in short supply because they are being hunted down to extinction by crazed men with hideous bleeding erections. In the first act alone they are immolated, hurled off bridges (in the form of a comically obvious dummy), torn limb from limb, and suffer severe cranial damage via heavy rocks and rusted pipes through the face. The violence can be disturbing at times but the gooey practical gore effects (courtesy of producer Dan Nelson) are so over-the-top the death scenes take on a humorous tone quickly. No wonder Troma Films picked this movie for distribution; The Taint could easily pass for any of their greasy grindhouse gems from the 1980's like The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke 'Em High (both of which have their trailers on this disc as extra features). Even without the gore Bolduc provides his movie with plenty of lunatic humor and directorial bravado. I have never watched a sex scene staged from the point of view of a woman's vagina until now thanks to this movie. The character of Houdini is a particularly inspired creation, the epitome of every preposterously macho gym teacher you may have had in high school, and his gang gets some darkly hilarious one-liners like "It's just not an apocalypse without a circle of death." Or my personal favorite: "Look a girl! Let's gang rape her!" Dialogue like that would come across as hateful and chauvinistic, but Bolduc's actors impart these deranged bon mots with such bubbly earnestness that you can't help but laugh at the insanity of it all.
There is something comfortably retro about the look and feel of The Taint, from the bright pink hues of its opening credit title cards to Bolduc's electronic music score that owes healthy debts to 8-bit arcade game soundtracks and cheeseball inspirational power ballads. Before the movie is over you will have witnessed face ripping, a head cut in half down the center with a chainsaw, a coat hanger abortion complete with gross sound effects, a brain yanked out of a smashed skull, newspaper ads reading "Need Cock?", exploding squirrels, Nazi propaganda films about the scourge of men with miniscule genitalia, and our hero riding around on a skateboard while raining gunfire down on every misogynist monster dick he sees and wearing a blood-stained American flag. Outside of too many lengthy flashbacks and some questionable acting there is hardly a thing I didn't enjoy about this movie. It's a 70-minute carnival ride of absurdity and atrocity, both in equal doses, and all it takes to ride is the willingness to find humor in the most unlikely of sources. As the late George Carlin said, it's all about the context.
Previously self-distributed on DVD exclusively through the movie's official website by the filmmakers, The Taint makes its much anticipated debut on Blu-ray courtesy of new distributors Troma, the only company I could see giving this movie the release it truly deserves. The movie is presented in a 16:9 enhanced video transfer that preserves the vibrant lighting and makes the voluminous blood and gore effects pop with deep reds. Picture quality is mostly sharp. The English two-channel audio track is a mixed blessing; though the terrific soundtrack explodes from your speakers and the gruesome, inventive sound effects mix comes through clear as a bell the dialogue is very difficult to hear without turning your television set up to top volume. Then you have to promptly turn it down lest you want to annoy your neighbors....three blocks over. Best to have your volume at a decent level before you even load the disc because after a few seconds it goes right to the main menu and the music behind the main and sub-menus is loud enough to rattle a few teeth out of your skull. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are also provided and though the English came in handy as I was watching the movie since I didn't want to have to keep adjusting the volume I noticed the timing of the subtitles was a few seconds off. Frankly I'm amazed that a Troma release even has subtitles.
Starting this healthy package of supplements off are a pair of entertaining and informative commentary tracks. The first teams Bolduc with producer Dan Nelson and their roommates (and bit part actors in the movie) Eric and Shawn. The second brings together booze-soaked stars Cody Crenshaw, Kenneth Hall, and Gabriella Herzberg. Naturally the first track is more of a "How we did it" and "How the hell did we get away with it" affair and a terrific primer on underground independent filmmaking, while the second has more of a rowdy party tone and yields more shameless laughs than pertinent insight.
Three deleted scenes that are interesting to watch but were rightfully cut from the final film are presented alongside a slide show of behind-the-scenes still photos and a pair of brief teaser and theatrical trailers. In the Tromatic Extras menu you'll find even more cool little bonuses. The requisite trailers for other Troma releases are present and accounted for, and here we get a set of fun previews for The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High, Father's Day, Poultrygeist, and Mr. Bricks.
The minute-long "Radiation March" video that the company puts on all of its releases is here and is the same little clip it has been since its first appearance. Meh. Troma Prez Lloyd Kaufman is all over the last two features: the first is a fun video entitled "Why is Lloyd Kaufman Living in a Refrigerator Box?" (2 minutes) and finds the affable Kaufman peddling dirt cheap Troma DVDs on the street and insulting those who don't buy; last we have "Sunny Acres Farms" (2 minutes), a mock public service announcement produced in collaboration with PETA that Kaufman directed and narrated and features nothing but naked men and women forced into cages and treated like animals, including being slaughtered so our children can enjoy those tasty human hamburgers. As a lifelong carnivore I found this short savagely funny and it almost made a vegan out of me. Almost.
Troma has also included a DVD copy of the film.
It's a cause for celebration to see a modern splatter horror film where the effects are as integral as the story and ideas. The Taint doesn't blaze any new trails, but it brings a fresh perspective to the old territory it traverses. As bold and inventive as the movies that inspired it, Drew Bolduc has made a minor classic in the pantheon of politically incorrect genre cinema. Troma's Blu-ray presentation is solid in most areas and should ensure that The Taint continues to build the cult following it deserves. Highly recommended.