Dead Dicks [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Artsploitation
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (26th December 2020).
The Film

This debut feature film from the team of Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer is a black humored examination of an important topic: depression and suicide, but somehow the title "Dead Dicks" doesn’t even come close at hinting what this film is all about. The film opens with a zoom chat meeting between Becca (Jillian Harris) and a representative of Conn-Gerber University regarding her acceptance into a high-pressure nursing school. The representative informs Becca that acceptance into the program begins next week and that a lot of ground needs to be covered. Becca appears to be happy with her decision, but we can also sense a feeling of apprehension on her part. Becca reports to her workplace and it is clear that there is something on her mind. She checks her cell and sees multiple messages left from her brother, Ritchie (Heston Horwin); he has called multiple times and sounds like he is in a panic. She takes an Uber to his apartment and encounters irritate downstairs neighbor, Matt (Matt Keyes) who complains about the ungodly loud music blasting from Ritchie’s apartment. Letting herself in with a key, she is bombarded with whatever music Ritchie is listening to. She turns off the noise and looks around; Ritchie is an artist and his apartment is a mess; various drawings adorn the walls and the place looks squalid. Becca calls Ritchie’s name out several times and looks through several rooms until she opens a closet and encounters Ritchie’s corpse hanging from a belt around his neck. Recoiling in horror Becca turns and suddenly a completely naked Ritchie comes into view; both are surprised by seeing the other. From this part forward we are treated to a mix of black humor, grisly horror elements and an unexplained mysterious portal on Ritchie’s bedroom wall that resembles a vagina. Charging ahead full steam we are given somewhat of a partial backstory that attempts to explain things.

Try to imagine a bad night at Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment of horror: bodies everywhere, all dead through various means, and all resembling Ritchie. However, Ritchie is alive and well and acting helpless, which is how he usually is. Becca is the dependable one of the sibling situation; the one with a job, the one that handles the various stressful predicaments that Ritchie finds himself in, the one with some sense and sensibility and she demonstrates this by quickly grasping the seriousness of the situation and starts dismembering the corpses. We hear some of these details as Becca talks to Ritchie as he slowly dies, yet again, on the couch from a fatal overdose. Ritchie has a theory about the multiple copies of him piling up in the apartment and he wants to prove it to Becca. Proving it means killing himself for the third time that night. As Ritchie goes on the nod, we listen to Becca as she talks; various details are disclosed. The siblings are the product of a broken marriage. Dad was a lush; mom simply checked out for parts unknown. Becca mentions the time that Ritchie ended up in the hospital; she is no stranger to putting her own life on hold and dropping everything in order to rush to Richie’s side. But what if this experiment fails? What if Ritchie’s theory proves to be incorrect? We watch waiting to see what the outcome is.

Ritchie had tried to capture on videotape what exactly occurs when he attempts to kill himself and the results don’t clearly explain what is happening. He has written extensive notes about what he recalls but things up there “are fuzzy.” All that we know is that Ritchie, for whatever reasons, is immortal and that he is reproduced in a large body like condom, exiting from the vagina portal on the bedroom wall. The third time is successful, and Ritchie dies only to reappear yet again. Becca is completely freaked out, but she tries to stay calm. She clearly loves her brother, but he has some serious issues. Various issues such as depression are discussed, and Ritchie is a portrait of suffering. He talks honestly about his pain, the guilt of not being able to cope with things, how he is filled with self-loathing because he tries so hard, but nothing seems to help. After a gruelling session of dissection in the bathroom, Becca is exhausted. She opens the refrigerator and finds a bottle of orange juice. She drains it and then lays down on the couch for a quick nap. Matt, the downstairs neighbor, can’t leave well enough alone and repeatedly knocks on the door, threatening to call the police. In a moment of idiocy, he charges into the apartment, telling the siblings that the place smells of death. Indeed, Ritchie has neglected to dispose of a hand and part of an arm because he was using it to pain with, thus making some wisecrack about surrealism. Matt spies the amputated limb and starts dialling the cops on his cell. Ritchie ends up pummelling Matt with a toaster about the head and then panics because according to his theory if Matt is dead, it just doesn’t matter because he will be reproduced via the portal. Becca meanwhile discovers her own body in the closet because she too was killed because she drank Ritchie’s fatal concoction. Likewise, she too was duplicated and spewed from the orifice in the bedroom. It turns out that Matt isn’t completely dead, simply knocked out. His twin is a monstrous mutation with half his head hanging off the back of his skull and he attacks Ritchie. Finally, Becca picks up a hammer and beats several holes in the heads of both of the intruders, thus killing the brain and ending the pattern once and for all. Ritchie finds Becca’s letter of acceptance and confronts her. He is furious that she couldn’t truthfully tell him that she was planning on leaving; this is exactly what has been needed to end the poisonous dependent relationship. Using trickery, Ritchie locks Becca in the bedroom and using his father’s hunting rifle, finally kills himself for good with a head shot that occurs offscreen.

Becca is locked in the bedroom. Earlier she tried to exit the apartment, but she could not do so; a mysterious force field kept her in the apartment. With Ritchie now dead, Becca takes her frustration out on the portal; ultimately, she ends up climbing in through the hole and comes out, where? The filmmakers have chosen a non-ending that doesn’t provide any concrete answers preferring to end the film with a fade to black which is most unfortunate because up till that time this was a pretty enjoyable ride.

Video

Shot with Arri Alexa cameras and in a ratio 2.39:1 HD 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 compression, "Dead Dicks" displays crisp video quality for Blu-ray. The presentation is extremely clear and offers viewers a dynamic picture quality. Lighting is largely flat and the camera work is serviceable. All in all, not too shabby for a debut film.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo options are included. This type of musical backdrop isn’t really my scene. The bruising soundtrack by Julien Verschooris is supplied in fair 5.1 Dolby soundtrack but is haphazardly utilized. Optional English for the hearing impaired subtitles play in a yellow font.

Extras

First up is an audio commentary with co-writers/co-directors Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer who supply a lively discussion of the film and supply some insightful discussion.

Four Video Diaries with directors Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer are next, taken at four different time periods during the production, the duo discuss the various challenges facing them as first time filmmakers. They include:

- "Video Diary One" (5:37)
- "Video Diary Two" (5:55)
- "Video Diary Three" (3:28)
- "Video Diary Four" (2:31)

"FX" featurette (2:00) in HD. Time lapse photography shows the application of extensive prosthetics make up for Matt Keyes.

Four bonus trailer "Coming Attractions" for other Artsploitation films are also include for:

- "Bloody Knuckles" (1:32)
- "The Dead Ones" (1:19)
- "Snowflake" (2:34)
- "Welcome to the Circle" (1:52)

Packaging

Comes in a regular Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

This debut film displays that the filmmakers know their way around enough to create a full-length film and though this effort suffered from an inconsistency of tone, otherwise this shows promise and hopefully a bigger budget and a tighter script.

The Film: B- Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: B+ Overall: B-

 


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