Verotika Blu-ray Review: A Comic Book Horror Anthology Come to Life

Verotika (2019) is writer/director Glenn Danzig’s debut and is an anthology horror movie based on characters from his Verotik comic book series (which explains the poster art). “Verotik” is a portmanteau from the words “violent” and “erotic,” which these three segments most certainly are. Danzig came up with the word to best describe what he wanted the stories to be about in the comics and those featured in this movie. There is for sure lots of violence, nudity, and gore in this live-action horror comic book story collection that also brings to mind a certain Misfits tune. 

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The gore and titillation start right from the jump as we see a scared, semi-nude woman about to get her eyes poked out by the sexy, horned Morella (Kayden Kross, doing her best Vampira walk), who will serve as our ghoulish host for the night’s horror business. She’ll introduce the story then follow up after with a corny, bad joke. What else would we expect from such a groovy ghoulie though?

Segment the first is The Albino Spiders of Darjett. Somewhere in France, there’s an exotic fetish model named Darjett (Ashley Wisdom) who wears a silly pink hairdo and has eyes where her nipples should be. Those big eyes shed magic tears that bring a poisonous little white spider to life. Frenchy the albino spider (Scott Hopkins) is actually a representation of our girl Darjett’s very dark passions. As Dar sleeps, this nasty arachnid-man mutant runs amuck in the city killing ladies after speaking crudely to them and doing that stuff that yo mama calls smut before snapping their necks. The spider’s web of death comes crashing down as Dar takes her life before calling le Keystone cops who show up with bullets instead of a rolled-up newspaper to send this freaky French spider to the afterworld. Everybody gets to speak with silly ass French accents in this one. 

The second segment is titled Change of Face and is set somewhere in the Hollywood Babylon section of Los Angeles where this time there’s a mysterious stripper calling herself Mystery Girl/The Face Collector (Rachel Alig) who goes from town to town dancing on poles and snatching faces off lovely ladies to wear before adding them to the collection on her wall. She uses the visages to enhance her own disfigured appearance as she stalks the night and avoids nitwit, cartoon tough guy cops with attitude. The Misfits, “Skulls” is all I can think of as I watch this one…”Demon I am and face I peel/see your skin turned inside out…gotta have you on my wall.” Lots more nudity and corny comic book scenes that end in prolonged poses by the Face Collector as the camera quickly zooms in on her kisser.  

Drukija Countess of Blood is the third segment and this bloodfeast takes place somewhere in medieval Europe. An Elizabeth Bathory-like tale of a Contessa named Drukija (Alice Haig) that takes baths filled with the blood of local virgin girls who she tortures down in her (London) dungeon. We watch as she gives her victims one last caress before cutting their throats, taking a bloodbath, and then stares at the victim like the psycho that she is. The Contessa then stares at herself in front of the mirror before claiming another victim. A gorey special effects showcase is really all this one is, as the Contessa rips up girls, lops off their heads, and eats their innards. Again my mind goes right to Danzig belting out more lines from “Skulls,” “the blood drains down like devil’s rain/we’ll bathe tonight/I want your skull…hack the heads off girls and put them on my wall.” Because you see, that’s where those lovely young heads end up, mounted on the walls of the Queen Wasp’s room. There’s no room for cornball cops in this episode.  

Verotika is over the top and cartoonish overall. It’s definitely comic book stylish and filled with comic book dialog that comes off stiff and forced in live action. Bad acting, boobs, and gore galore abound throughout its 90-minute runtime. Sometimes good, too often comically bad, but it seems that’s what Danzig’s goal was here: to make a purposely bad, live-action comic book. He succeeds in bringing the selected stories to life. It’s just too bad they work better on the page than the screen. Segment One in particular works way better as a comic book story as do the close-ups in Segment Two. The special effects are good for the budget involved and Danzig frames some good shots and incorporates decent shadow play, even though he lets some scenes run a few seconds too long or is that part of the spoof? All this goes down as the goth/metal soundtrack plays on in the background. If one should watch, be on the lookout for General Hospital’s Sean Kanan as an L.A. Detective in The Face Collector as well as pro wrestler Sean “X -PAC” Waltman checking IDs at a strip club door. 

The MVD Visual edition comes with not only a Blu-ray version of the movie but a DVD and a CD of the soundtrack. Besides the picture quality, there’s no difference between the Blu-ray and DVD. The CD is a goth and heavy metal showcase of music put out by Cleopatra Records, a subsidiary of Cleopatra Entertainment. The soundtrack includes tracks by Danzig (“Eyes Ripping Fire”), Ministry (“Dancing Madly Backwards”), Vile a Sin (“Crimson Lust” and “The Return”) and a song in French by Fantome (“Je Suis a Toi”). Not a bad collection at all. 

Verotika was written and directed by Glenn Danzig as it very well should be as it brings to life his comic-book creations. It’s not too bad a horror movie for what it is and it’s most definitely not for everybody.  It’s one of those parody type films, kind of like The Love Witch (2016) that work better when viewed in a certain light. I didn’t know what to expect from a Danzig movie, especially not having read the comics and it wasn’t until “Skulls” crashed into my brain that the penny dropped; Danzig’s and the Misfits songs in general are comic book, sci fi/horror B-movie inspired, and here, Glenn is again bringing that comic book look and feel to life, for better or worse. Cheers to Mr. Danzig in this gory, goofball effort.  

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Joe Garcia III

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