Drew Bolduc - Phil O'Ginny/Drew
Colleen Walsh - Misandra
Cody Crenshaw - Houdini
Kenneth Hall - Ludas
Joey Tran - Boss
Gabriella Herzberg - Sandy
Richard Spencer - Bob
Ariel Canton - Gina
Genre - Horror/B-Movie/Comedy/Indie
Running Time - 70 Minutes
424 reviews in, and I always have an idea on how to begin one of these. Sometimes I'll use something from my personal experience if it relates to the film I'm discussing. Other times I'll take a certain theme out of the film that many people would understand and elaborate on it as a lead-in to the actual review.
But sometimes there is a film that is in a league of its own - one that leaves you speechless and clueless as to how to begin talking about it. Filmmakers Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson did that with their 2010 indie B-movie horror film, THE TAINT. I had heard about this film for a while now on the blogosphere, but I kind of overlooked it due to personal issues and just being distracted with other things in general. But since the film was free on Vimeo for the entire month of June, I had decided to give in and see what the fuss was about. Boy...did I have no idea - NONE - about what I was getting myself into here. Lloyd Kaufman would be insanely proud of THE TAINT.
The local water supply has been contaminated by an experimental drug called Cockzantium. The drug apparently increases the size of a man's, um, "junk" and builds his semen count by the hundredfold. Since the drug hadn't had the kinks worked out, any man who takes it becomes so full of testosterone that they become misogynistic monsters who bash women's heads in while they give off on it [their exposed leaking penises are proof of that].
However, one man - a stoned slacker named Phil O'Ginny (Drew Bolduc) has remained unaffected by the Cockzantium. He meets up with badass bitch, Misandra (Colleen Walsh), who lost her husband to the drug. She wants revenge on whoever did this, even if she has to kill every man in the world to make that happen.
While trying to survive, Phil and Misandra meet up with Houdini (Cody Crenshaw), Phil's former gym teacher and closeted homosexual, and with disfigured Ludas (Kenneth Hall), the one person still sane enough to tell Phil and Misandra the true origins of Cockzantium and why it's in the water supply. With all this information, will Phil and Misandra let the male race win the battle of the sexes? Or will they put a stop this erectile insanity once and for all?
THE TAINT is a neo-Troma film without actually being a Troma film. It's offensive, not politically correct, semi-pornographic, and presents itself as a bad movie that you'll either love or hate. But that's what makes THE TAINT so damn awesome because it never takes itself seriously and creates a truly memorable B-movie that will cause your jaws to drop at how far the filmmakers will go to tell their story. I'm rarely speechless when I watch any film, but THE TAINT took any words out of my mouth. This film is just over-the-top ballsy and insane.
The narrative of THE TAINT isn't the focus of the film, but it's still the reason why it's memorable. I can honestly say that I have never seen a film where the characters are infected by a drug that makes their penises bigger and gushing spooge in every other shot, while they truly brutalize women to prove that they're the better sex. It's like a zombie movie with more dicks in it than that last Congressional meeting on C-SPAN. The story is truly original and in a lot of ways bites back at a lot of society's qualms about penis size and masculinity. The whole issue with "size doesn't matter... it's how you use it that counts" is questioned here in very funny ways. In fact, the reason why the Cockzantium is even in the water supply is because the Asian Boss of the company behind the drug wanted to make all men bigger so women can bow down and suck on their cocks [Asian guy = small penis = angry, bitter person... get it?]. The motive is so comical, but so realistic at the same time. Men, in a lot of ways, are measured by their manhood. I can believe some needle dick would want to supply this to all men so they can feel masculine and superior to women and their beliefs on the matter. I'm actually surprised no one else has based a film around this issue, with all the marketing out there for male enhancement pills and implants. It's brilliant and memorable, although it'll probably appeal to men more than women.
Is the film misogynistic? Oh yeah, and THE TAINT isn't ashamed of it. The female characters here aren't with much respect here. They're either eye candy, treated as afterthoughts, or murdered in really over-the-top ways. Misandra is really the only female character that feels substantial in the film because she's not portrayed as weak or vulnerable as the other females in the film. In a lot of ways, she's actually stronger than all the men in the film, who seem more concerned with themselves and how they fit in this new society rather than wanting a way to stop the drug from spreading more than it already has. But while she is the most heroic presence in the film, she's still in the shadow behind the other main male characters who have more interesting traits about them to make them stand out individually.
Speaking of characters, a film like THE TAINT shouldn't be expected to promote strong character development since its main arc is so crazy that depth wouldn't really matter all that much. But the main characters each get their own flashback segments to explain what has led to their present in this messed up world - which helps deepen the narrative as well as make the jokes funnier. Phil's story, even though he's really the main character, is the least interesting one to me. But at least I kind of understand what this guy was about. He's a bit slow. He likes to skateboard. He's constantly picked on by Houdini, who sees him as less of a man than he is. He constantly switches between sunglasses depending on his mood. And he's juggling two girls - one of which is carrying his baby and wants him to give her an abortion with a coat hanger. It doesn't completely flesh him out as much as the other main characters, at least it explains why the character has nightmares. It's obvious the abortion probably didn't go well.
I already mentioned Misandra, but her arc explains why she carries on in the film with a tough exterior. Her flashback shows her happily married to a man who really loved her [I'm not sure if it was the POV of inside her vagina as his penis went in and out of her], claiming that people not in love must be "queer". Misandra's husband really loves water, so it's easy to figure out that he eventually drinks the tainted water after a bit of lovemaking. He attacks Misandra, who eventually smashes his face in. While he change from lovestruck wife to bitchy warrior is a bit too quick and unbelievable, at least it gives her motivation as to why she decides to kill every man she comes in contact with.
Houdini's story is a bit more deep than the other characters I mentioned. We get a very cheesy 80s montage where Houdini is working out, breaking the fourth wall by posing seductively at the camera, and picking on others to showcase his [in his own mind] superiority and masculinity. Even though it's never mention, it's obvious from his scenes that Houdini is constantly struggling with his sexuality. He loves playing Shirts and Skins, wanting the better looking guys in Skins. He likes pushing his crotch in men's faces any time he speaks to them. He also has daddy issues as his father used to beat him with a belt every time he cried. Houdini could have been a stereotypical antagonist, but he's given a bit of depth that's appreciated.
As for Ludas, we learn he was the one who created Cockzantium with his own DNA by accident, as his partner felt that the success of the drug would lead to both of them getting a large of amount of women who would be willing to blow them. One of his female co-workers has a crush on him that he's too scared to take advantage of. And his boss unleashes the drug on the entire town through its water supply because he's insecure about his penis size. And then he's changed forever when Houdini and his gang encounters him and rips Ludas' face off to prove he's better. Ludas spends the rest of his life like a phantom, wearing a scary mask and killing people with clawed gloves. Ludas probably has the strongest development, as we see an intelligent, shy guy turned into a disfigured [both physically and mentally] and violent man. For a film that's pretty silly and more obsessed with penises than with anything else, this level of depth is quite refreshing and surprising.
I won't go into the dialogue. I will just say that the film is extremely well written and very humorous. I'm sure you'll be laughing as much as you'll be grossed out. This film would fit right in Troma's level of excellence, especially during the 80s.
THE TAINT is very edgy in terms of language, sexuality, and violence. I'm sure every cuss word is used at least once here. In terms of sex, we get a lot of shots of boobs and more shots of leaking penises that jizz every time there's violence going on. There are even moments where the infected will ejaculate all over their victims as if they were carrying hoses. There's even a man who is shitting himself as he tries to attack Phil. As for the violence, it's mainly people getting their faces ripped off and bashed in with various objects. Let's just say that the people of this town weren't born with skulls, because there's no sign of bones in their bashed heads, making it easy access to get to their brains. I just chuckled every time I saw this lack of biology in THE TAINT. Still, this film does not hold back and I was really shocked at how much these filmmakers got away with. And with a small budget, nonetheless. I was pretty impressed by it all.
The direction by Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson is well-done. The pacing is great, as the 70 minutes breeze right by. The editing is really good. The montages and the flashbacks are done nicely and with style. Most of the direction is point and shoot, but it fits the context of the story. For an amateur production, it's more impressive than most bigger budgeted films I've seen. As silly and juvenile the film happens to be, the filmmakers took their work seriously and presented quite an indie visual feast here. No complaints whatsoever.
The acting in the film isn't the best ever, but I think that's pretty much the point really. Drew Bolduc plays two roles - main dude Phil and Ludas' scientist partner, Drew. His acting is pretty bad as Phil, but it just makes the character funnier and made to look and sound slower than he probably is. As Drew, he plays a NAPOLEON DYNAMITE like character and does it well. Colleen Walsh is cool as Misandra, playing the angry chick well. Cody Crenshaw, for me, was the best actor as Houdini. He was so energetic and just hams it up as best as he can. He steals every scene he's in, just because he doesn't hold back. He has definitely charisma. And Kenneth Hall, as Ludas, was also great. I really liked how he created a character we can relate to - one who tries to do something good but ends up doing the opposite. He brought a sincerity and vulnerability to the role that I liked, which made his anger later on believable. The entire cast seemed to be having a blast making this film and it showed tenfold.
Special mention also has to go to the musical score of the film. Drew Bolduc did a very cool score that was very 80s, layered in synth beats. And the song for Houdini's montage, "We'll Meet Within the Shadows of Love" by Phil Hessen and Rob King, was awesomely hilarious.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE TRYING TO KEEP MY DICK IN MY PANTS
- Phil vomited for a few seconds after seeing some disturbing stuff on the trail. I had no idea this was the life story of Mary Kate Olsen...
- One dude rammed a huge pipe through a girl's head. I thought this sort of thing only happened in Kim Kardashian's house?
- Houdini is the master of the fist, as it's gotten him out of tight spots as well as into them over and over again. And they say picking up the soap in prison is a bad thing...
- When you become famous, there's a whole lot of cocksucking. Of course it does! Just ask Sienna Miller.
- Feeling Ludas was two-faced, Houdini ripped his face off. Man, Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, and Harvey Dent had it easy!
- Phil used a wire hanger to give his girlfriend an abortion. The Catholic Church and Joan Crawford are gonna be so fuckin' pissed...
THE FINAL HOWL
THE TAINT is a must see film if you really like over-the-top and take-no-prisoners B-movies that are reminiscent of Troma movies. There are more wangs here than in a Chinese phone book. People are getting their faces and heads bashed in. The dialogue is funny and the story is entertaining. It's a great time for those who can handle it. THE TAINT isn't for everyone, but its surreal journey is definitely worth the time.
4 Howls Outta 4