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Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Devil Girl (2009)

All muscle car enthusiasts have surely greased their proverbial pistons over the classic existential road-film Vanishing Point.  In it the lead, Kowalski, bets he can deliver a '70 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.  Along the way, ripped on amphetamines, he encounters police, media attention and assorted Woodstock fallouts that threaten to heed his already unlikely arrival time.  His intended destination seems almost secondary to the need to get away from his past and the journey consumes him.

In similar fashion in Devil Girl we meet Fay (played admirably by Jessica Graham), who is running away from the recent death of her father and headed out to sunny California via Route 66 in her souped-up Chevy.  To earn money for the trek she bets on illegal car races and pool games, showing no interest in getting personal with anyone.  A pit stop at a gas station, however, crosses Fay with The Clown, who is on an entirely different kind of trip, causing her to drastically detour.

Fueled by robberies, cheap drugs ("injection is affection"), junk food and considerable inner demons, The Clown is clearly on a journey straight to Hell.  He might get there too, if he'd only stop having motor troubles and running out of gas.  Escaping from whatever reality he once knew, our grease-painted pal clearly doesn't care where he might impulsively land and bring his circus of amusements.  The Clown's deepening psychosis and completely unpredictable behavior ("Yee-haw in a haystack, honey, there's a tractor in my balls!") becomes ever more amusing as things progress.  Joe Wanjai Ross is a real hoot as the ill-fated and medicated fool, chewing up his scenes faster than Oprah at a rib buffet.

At this gas station The Clown lifts Fay's wallet and takes off down the road 'til his ride reaches empty.  Then Fay's oil pump bellies up; leaving them both in the same remote, peculiar little corner of God's good green acre.  She's informed by the town's only mechanic that the part will take a week to arrive (about the time it takes the heavy stutterer to form a sentence) and she's forced to strip at the local dive The Burning Bush to cover room and board in the meantime.  The Clown just goes there because he's high and really horny, I think.

Devil Girl (Vanessa Kay) then finally enters the frame; her introductory pole dance at the club should make a favorable first impression.  A Coop pinup in living flesh; she is completely red from head to toe, sexually devious, outrageously buxom and comes complete with tail.  If only her line readings were as fully developed.  Her otherworldly visits seem part illusion or fevered fantasy, although she has obvious effect in the human realm.  Ostensibly offering salvation, redemption, vengeance and the occasional joint or lesbian tryst, Devil Girl asks only of others but to be themselves; letting the good times roll as steadily as her vintage black Thunderbird.

The plot also reveals a small town conspiracy involving the local preacher ("those who follow the path flourish") and the unseemly motel clerk ("cleanliness is next to Godliness"); a vicious mask-wearing rapist; the petite Fay in a dominatrix outfit; some ranting TV evangelists for background filler; and a propulsive heavy metal soundtrack to make all things as titillating as possible.

Fans of hallucinogenic travelogues such as Natural Born Killers and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas should find some things to admire in the visual tapestry director Howie Askins paints with Devil Girl; albeit with an almost Rob Zombie-like air of sleaze over the proceedings.  Throw in some Russ Meyer and Quentin Tarantino-ish flourishes and you have one damn colorful low budget road-show extravaganza. Not too shabby of reference points if you ask me.

The film doesn't completely vanish without point, either.  The convoluted ending does leave the events that have just transpired to complete uncertainty, but overall its due course is straight to unapologetic excess.

Not nearly as meditative as Richard Safarian's muscle-car masterpiece, but twice as entertaining if you're willing to park your brain in the garage and fire up Devil Girl's winning engines.  She'll take you for a guilty ride you won't soon forget.  Hell's ahead, hit the gas.

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