Weâ€™ve all had that experience when an ex will turn all-Dangerous Liaisons on you and try to ruin your newly-won freedom. Now place that life lesson in the 1970s, add some coke and porn, and sprinkle in Carrie-inspired horror hijinks and the result would be The Disco Exorcist, the new DVD offering from Scorpio Film Releasing. Directed by Richard Griffin (2009â€™s Nun of That), The Disco Exorcist combines many different retro elements to give the film an authentic vintage feel. Complete with Grindhouse-like opening and closing segments, this movie harkens back to the days of the drive-in slasher flicks that we all fondly remember but at the same time offers up a hint of humor that will grow on you by the final scenes. While it took a while for the plot to get stirring, once in motion The Disco Exorcist has the feel of an authentic slice of vintage slasher and retro horror goodness, with some hearty laughs sprinkled in. It forces you to remember that the 1970s were a good era for cinema.
Swinging gigolo Rex Romanski (great name, played by Michael Reed) is adept at frequenting both the disco and orgy sets with ease. As a viewer, he also manages to be both loveable and hate-able simultaneously, not too small a feat nowadays. After having what he thinks is a one-night-stand with psychotic devil woman Rita Marie (played with convincing lunacy by Ruth Sullivan), his attempts at wooing porn princess Amoreena Jones (Sarah Nicklin) take a horror-ific turn as he faces one devilish assault after another. While trying to figure out a way to save Amoreenaâ€™s soul, Rex must go face-to-face with an evil onslaught only a scorned woman, with support from the deepest pits of hell, could conjure up. Donâ€™t worryâ€¦.thereâ€™s PLENTY of sex, drugs and over-indulgence that would go on to epitomize the late â€˜70s. Think Boogie Nightsâ€¦.with a supernatural element.
It took some time, but I did like The Disco Exorcist. The retro feel to the movie adds to its charm, and doesnâ€™t seemed forced or absurd during any point. Griffin doesnâ€™t go overboard with the random orgies, piles of coke or polyester pants/platform shoes combo that many label on this particular time period. When they are shown, itâ€™s usually for comedic affect. The horror scenes are well done; eerily reminiscent of the low-budget shock and awe that would eventually come to symbolize that era in scary cinema. The pace and placement of the gore and comedic relief are timed superbly, with each playing off of the other so as not to overwhelm the viewer in any one scene. I couldnâ€™t help but think that if you took out some of the humor, this could be a true horror flick in the same vein as Phantasmâ€¦.creepy soundtrack included. In the â€œclimacticâ€ (pun intended) orgy scene, a gross-out gag involving a certain area of the male anatomy is enough to make Tommy Pistol blush. Or smile. Probably blush.
Thereâ€™s not much that I felt this movie lacked, because in the end it achieved what it set out to do: be true to the â€˜70s drive-in niche format. The story revolves around Rex and his ability, or inability in Ritaâ€™s case, to connect with people and build a relationship. One person that I really felt couldâ€™ve been involved more was his best friend, Manuel (played by the chuckle-inducing Brandon Luis Aponte). Manuel, although popping in periodically throughout the first hour, doesnâ€™t get the screen time his character deserves until the very end. But when he doesâ€¦..he shines. His one-liners and smart sense of comedic timing really serve to lighten some of the tenser moments at the filmâ€™s conclusion. I wouldâ€™ve liked to have seen more of Manuel, but then again too much of a funny sidekick couldâ€™ve taken away from the evilness as a whole. Perhaps in the sequel (if he livedâ€¦.no spoilers here).
In summationâ€¦â€¦The Disco Exorcist was well worth my time. The grainy and jumpy composition authentic to the Grindhouse-style drive-in set was appreciated, and the even balance of gore and laughter kept my interest throughout. Perhaps Tarantino would be proud, or at the very least approving. Just remember: if you break up with somebody, just make sure they arenâ€™t the vengeful, spiteful type with access to a Quija board or a coven. Not everybody can handle that situation with the style and coolness as a Rex Romanski.