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For the past several years, I’ve been chasing Frank Henenlotter. Not literally, mind you, but in a purely cinematic sense. This grossly underrated director introduced me to the weird and wonderful world of absurd horror, a genre that few modern filmmakers seem to fully understand. Henenlotter’s body of work is the stuff of twisted genius, a working man’s David Cronenberg without the artsy subtext and self-serious demeanor. Try as I might, I hadn’t found a modern-day motion picture that filled my misshapen soul with the same deranged excitement I received upon watching “Frankenhooker”, “Brain Damage”, and the “Basket Case” trilogy for the very first time oh-so many years ago.
That is, of course, until I watched Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson’s “The Taint”.
If you have an aversion to films that prominently features a plethora of exploding male genitalia, by all means, turn back now. The number of exploding penises spread throughout the course of “The Taint” is astronomical, culminating in one of the most uncomfortably horrific yet mind-numbingly hilarious finales you’re likely to find in American independent cinema. Most people probably wouldn’t think that the inclusion of crotch-oriented violence would be a positive selling point, but they would be wrong, my friends. Dead wrong. Besides, if you can’t laugh at a guy shooting off another guy’s junk, then these are truly sad days. Very sad, indeed. Thankfully, phallic disfigurement isn’t the only thing this surreal and frequently brutal exploration of ironic misogyny has to offer.
The picture opens with pure absurdity: our blonde, mildly inarticulate hero — who has an inexplicable fondness for stylish sunglasses and handguns — finds himself darting through the forest with a defecating hillbilly hot on his heels. It’s a throwaway moment, existing only to prepare unsuspecting audience members for the unbridled cinematic madness that soon follows. As the story progresses, we learn that an unscrupulous corporation has tainted the local water supply with a drug designed to help guys increase the size of their cocks. Unfortunately for everyone, the drug has a serious side effect, one that transforms these size-obsessed males into murderous misogynists who frequently enjoying crushing the heads of their female counterparts with large rocks. Gang rape, apparently, is another socially acceptable pastime in this deliriously bizarre landscape.
After teaming up with a tough-as-nails, gun-totting female who isn’t overly impressed with this unexpected social decline, our heroes immediately adopt a “survive by any means necessary” philosophy, which ultimately pits them against a psychotic high school gym teacher and his legion of woman-hating miscreants with a penchant for extreme violence and unapologetic sexual assault. As sick as all of this might sound, “The Taint” is actually one of the funniest and, perhaps more importantly, goriest horror/comedies to come barreling out of the American indie horror scene in ages, rivaling such classic tongue-in-cheek splatterfests as “Dead Alive” and the immortal 80’s classic “Street Trash”. Which, I think, is precisely what Bolduc and Nelson had in mind.
The beauty of the film lies in its execution. Not only are the performances suitably goofy and understandably over-the-top, the special effects are truly gut-wrenching and beyond impressive. There were several instances over the course of the feature where I was forced to rewind the movie so I could fully comprehend the madness that was taking place on my television screen. How these guys managed to create such stomach-churning brilliance on such a low budget is beyond my range of comprehension. Anyone who is even toying with the idea of adding a ton of special effects to their no-budget indie horror flick would do well to study the technical accomplishments presented throughout “The Taint”. My mind has been thoroughly and completely blown. In a good way, of course.
Truth be told, I don’t have a single solitary complaint about “The Taint”. The film is an utterly deranged masterpiece, accompanied by a profoundly dedicated cast, one seriously cheesy electronic score, and some of the best special effects to come across my television in recent memory. No pun intended. “The Taint” is microbudget bliss, a penis-driven, crotch-oriented journey through the broken minds of some truly warped individuals. Although it’s definitely not for the easily offended, I can’t help but recommend this feature to anyone with even a passing interest in grue-encrusted, 80’s-flavored cinema. Frank Henenlotter, not to mention Llloyd Kaufman and Peter Jackson, should be seriously proud of what Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson have accomplished. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to watch it all over again. The chase, I think, has finally come to an end.
Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson (directors) / Drew Bolduc (screenplay)
CAST: Drew Bolduc