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Seven to one
A UK region 2 DVD review of BAD BIOLOGY by Gort
 

If you shudder at the thought of melding sexploitation with horror and having fun with the concept of grotesque or malformed genitalia, then I'd seriously give Bad Biology a very wide berth. Frankly you might even want to give this review a miss, as even a plot description is likely to offend the sensitive.

So where do I start? OK, how about this. Jennifer is a photographer with seven clitorises whose recently discovered appetite for energetic sex sometimes results the death of her partner, while her hyper-metabolism results in her giving birth just two hours after copulation to malformed babies she just leaves where they drop. Batz, meanwhile, is a self-conscious loner with a 24-inch, self-aware penis with a drug addiction, created by years of steroid injections administered directly to the organ in an effort to restore it to full functionality, following its accidental severing and re-attachment at birth. At the start of the film these two have never met. As you can imagine, that's not destined to last.

Their paths first cross when Batz rents out his house for a photo shoot for rap artist Reef the Lost Cauze (played by himself, apparently), and guess who's behind the camera, getting off by taking photos of the artist surrounded by naked women whose faces are obscured by vagina-shaped masks? Why yes, it's our Jennifer. She doesn't notice Batz until one of the models shows him her boobs and a pile of boxes are sent flying by a sharp movement from below his waist. After stealing his keys, the now curious Jennifer sneaks back that night with a video camera and catches Batz with a prostitute, a woman who continues to orgasm long after he's finished his business and whose moaning continues even after he dumps her in the street. This enables Jennifer to get some close-up footage that provides her with an evening of serious masturbation material, and she decides there and then that this is the fuck she's been searching for. But by the time she drops in on Batz, his penis has left home and gone in search of some action without him.

It all reads like a deliberate attempt at sensibility provocation and it probably is, but it's also a lot wittier than this description might suggest. There's even a female empowerment element to Jennifer's adventures, her tightly written voice-over monologues those of a woman who knows what she wants but always ends up disappointed by men who are just not up to the job. The killing of her first partner is accidental and darkly funny, the result of his head being rhythmically bashed onto the wooden floor in time with her excitable copulative bouncing (her reaction to his demise – a girlish "whoops!" – completes the gag). The second dies as a result of his insensitivity to Jennifer's hyper-emotional state, which sees him repeatedly bludgeoned with a bedside lamp as she rants at the failings of men (interspersed with the occasional sincere apology) until she and the walls run red with his blood.

The first feature for fifteen years from cult director Frank Henenlotter, he of Basket Case (1982) and Frankenhooker (1990), Bad Biology is at its strongest in the first two-thirds, where the writing is sharp, the performances just right (even the bit parts register, few more so than Eleonore Hendricks' manic crack whore, throwing things asunder and repeatedly yelling "Where's my jimmy-jig?" at her bemused housemates) and the direction snappy. It's here that the potential for future cult status lies, as following the departure of Batz's member, nostalgically realised as low-rent model animation, the sharp focus blurs and we move into more familiar fantasy sexploitation territory, with a string of nude women with sometimes iffy acting skills falling victim to its sleazy POV lust. The earlier smarts are momentarily revived in Jennifer's final monologue before submitting to penetration, a development of her conviction that "God wants to fuck me" that begins with "Our father, who art in Jennifer..." and will likely have every good Catholic wide-eyed with horror. Should there be any still left watching by this stage, of course, which I seriously doubt.

It's a shame the quality is not sustained to the end, but ain't that so often the way with out-there exploitation cinema? And for outrageous and inventive nerve it's actually difficult to top a scene based around an oversized, home-made wanking machine, or another that is shot from the viewpoint of a mutant baby looking out from inside the womb. But see it anyway for the wit and energy of its first two-thirds, which have plenty to delight and amuse those who like their cult cinema to perhaps be aware of accepted notions of taste and decency, but to then cheerfully disregard them.

sound and vision

A bright, clean and colourful anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer with good detail and no obvious compression issues. Good contrast and black levels too. It's an NTSC to PAL conversion so loses a notch on the sharpness, but there are no major motion problems. Low budget it may be, but it looks fine.

Two soundtracks on offer, Dolby 2.0 stereo and Dolby 5.1 surround, and for once the stereo is the only way to go. I'm guessing the original mix was stereo and the 5.1 has been 'engineered' for the DVD by someone not involved in the film itself, as while the stereo track is clear, well mixed and with decent enough separation, the 5.1 is a bit of a mess. Background sound at every location is sent to the rear whether it belongs there or not, while voices and voice-overs are all but drowned out by the surrounding noise.

extra features

None.

summary

Exploitation fans only need apply, but if you can cope with a lot of softcore porn, special effects that never pretend to be anything else, and an almost adolescent obsession with sex and genitalia, then you might just be surprised at how sassy Bad Biology actually is, at least for a good part of its length (phnar phnar). It looks good on Revolver's DVD, but given the cult status of its director, where are the extras?

Bad Biology

USA 2008
84 mins
director
Frank Henenlotter
starring
Charlee Danielson
Anthony Sneed
Eleonore Hendricks
Jzone
Reef the Lost Cauze

DVD details
Region 2
video
1.78:1 anamorphic
sound
Dolby 2.0 stereo
Dolby 5.1 surround
languages
English
subtitles
none
extras
none
distributor
Revolver
release date
2 March 2009
review posted
1 March 2009