The Disco Exorcist Movie Review: A Strangely Entertaining Highlight Reel of ’70s Cliches

Fade in on lava lamp and reel to reel, plenty of dust and lines tarnishing the film print, scratchy audio track rife with pops and cracks as if playing off vinyl. A topless girl films a guy snorting blow off another girl’s bare ass. The Disco Exorcist strives to capture ’70s sleaze vibe and does an admirable job of it.

The disco and occasionally moody soundtrack is spot on for the theme. The setting, the costuming, and set design seemingly on the money. And the drug-addled, sex-addicted attitudes consistent with why we remember ’70s sexploitation films so well. It’s not that it’s good in and of itself, per se, but rather that it maintains and reproduces hyperbolic caricatures of trends for us to look back at and wonder what we were thinking. It’s shitty on purpose, without being bad, and that’s more than I can say about other disco or horror movies from the ’70s. The fact that it gets so much so right is what makes it entertaining to watch.

This movie is about coke, booze, nudity, sex, and demonic horror, with a dash of humor thrown in at just the right times. You shouldn’t take it seriously, and the more you recognize that, the better it gets. It’s that age-old tale of boy (Michael Reed) meets girl (Ruth Sullivan), boy bangs girl, boy makes girl jealous by flirting with a porn star (Sarah Nicklin), girl places a curse on boy’s new girlfriend, girlfriend starts flipping out killing people, boy has to enlist the help of an excommunicated priest who works as a janitor at his favorite disco to try to drive out the demon, free the girlfriend, and take out the bitch who made all this trouble in the first place. With me so far?

The movie is unrated, and that’s probably a good thing. The ridiculous amount of sex (albeit decidedly non-explicit and relatively R-rated) would have probably warranted a more prohibitive rating based solely on quantity. Every 5-10 minutes someone is getting it on, culminating in a blood-soaked orgy when the demoness shows up with some zombie bitches to raise hell and put a block under it. The horror and violence effects range from acceptable to intentionally laughable. And despite all the turmoil surrounding him, our hero Rex Romanski remains unflappably upbeat. Probably has something to do with all the drugs in his system and the fact that he gets to nail pretty much any girl he sets his sights on.

It’s commitment to capturing the look — including the aged-film filter applied throughout — is solidly consistent; the acting is silly without getting amateurish. The script is clever in places and corny in others, but never strays far from the intent. Take these exchanges, for example:

“What’s your sign, baby?”

”I have a penis.”

”Oh, Sagittarius!”

”I don’t know what you see in him.”

”He’s a prick, but he was worth doing….once.”

Despite the over-the-top presentation in every other respect, one thing that stood out against that was that, in a movie that is a veritable sea of bare breasts (seriously, there are more scenes with them than without), the one person who managed to never show hers uncovered the entire time was Sarah Nicklin, the girl playing the porn starlet Amoreena Jones. Maybe that juxtaposition was entirely intended, but it was noticeable.

I had great fun with this movie. Serious filmgoers will likely be disappointed, but they weren’t the intended audience in the first place, any more than The Expendables would be liked by pacifists. It’s not easy to do cheesy horror comedy this right. I haven’t seen (and hadn’t heard of) the team’s previous effort, 2009’s Nun of That, but now I’m looking forward to it.

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Mark Buckingham

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