Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Those filthy people in Serbia!!!


LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is undoubtedly going to be one of those films that gets knocked around as a challenge for viewers. A movie so extreme that it practically is spitting in your face to watch it. Or so the hyperbole will go, invariably comparing it to the “other” Serbian made horror/porno/snuff movie that made everyone loose their lunches. But the big difference here is that PORNO GANG is actually a very thoughtful, albeit downbeat, film that trades on a lot of interesting characters. It is violent and gory, and extremely sexually explicit, but it is the fact that the movie bearing those traits is so damn well done that makes it memorable. 

The movie opens with film student Mark (Mihajlo Jovanovic) realizing that he is not exactly going to have his dream of making thoughtful art films, or horror movies with political overtones. He quickly is sucked into the world of porno and before he knows it a year has passed, he is now jaded beyond belief and owes money to the mafia. He blew their money trying to make a politically charged horror/porno hybrid. To get out of town he bands together a group of misfits to make a traveling porno carnival and heads into the mountains and back roads of Serbia. A few shows go ok, but they are not making money. Soon he is approached by a secretive old man who wants the gang to start shooting snuff movies. Only with people who want to die and have some money to give. The gang is reluctant at first but after a nasty gang rape, they find themselves motivated enough to kill. 

PORNO GANG takes a long hard look at how things like lack of opportunity, war, and poverty can mold one’s vision of life. The particular detail that makes the movie work is that the people they are killing are willing to go. Making the gang executioners, Dr. Kevorkians in outrageous outfits. The film is careful to outline these scenes to make both the “victims” and the “killers” sympathetic. For example there is a scene where a Soldier is brought out for them to kill and he confesses his horrific war crimes on camera. The horrors of war are what specially drove this man to end up here. But interestingly enough after they kill him they end up on a slippery slope themselves ultimately succumbing to the same depressive evil. The movie makes a strong connection between being a Soldier who carries out war crimes to the band of outcasts carrying out snuff murders. Both degrade your humanity and shatter your soul.

There is another interesting scene where they are asked to kill an old farmer. When they arrive he tells his story so we find out his grand daughter has radiation poisoning, as does his livestock from the  bombings. He wants to die on camera to get enough money to save his family. Once again war and politics have driven the characters to the ultimate degradation.

PORNO GANG treats the violence and loss of life with a straight face. The most memorable scenes are the quietest, such as after the young, cute, chubby girl has killed the soldier she disappears. They find her standing alone in the forest in the rain just trying to rid herself of what she has done. The act of killing has weight in this film. 

So LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is always interesting, shocking and deeply heartfelt. Approach with caution, but for those who can stomach it, this is a fine film.

The Blu-Ray release that I reviewed here comes with a goofy behind the scenes featurette, some largely unneeded deleted scenes, trailer and the most interesting a feature length documentary on the Serbian Porno world called MADE IN SERBIA. This documentary is structurally somewhat similar to PORNO GANG as it follows a filmmaker who once dated a porno star as he travels through the underbelly of the Serbian Porno world half-assedly looking for her. That is the bare thread of plot that movie has laid on it, what it really does is interview all kinds of people from that world from shop owners to film producers, all of whom think Serbian Porno is crap. 

Interesting side not for me personally: On this blog is a review for what I called THE WORST PORNO EVER MADE. I had no idea what it was when I watched it, or where it came from (you can read the review HERE) and had thankfully forgotten it. Well low and behold during MADE IN SERBIA we meet a porn director and his wife who stars in his films. And sure as shit as we go behind the scenes of one of the shoots I don’t recognize her and the outdoor location they are shooting in! Turns out that terrible porno I saw a couple years back was a classic piece of Serbian erotica! Yikes!

MADE IN SERBIA is overlong at 101 minutes but it is still pretty fascinating stuff. Getting to look at how smut is looked at and made in such a remote place is interesting, though at the end of the day everyone’s reasons for doing it all end up being the same.

The DVD version does NOT have MADE IN SERBIA on it as an extra. 

Review © Andrew Copp

The Life and Death of a Porno Gang - Red Band... by ohmygore

No comments:

Post a Comment