Welcome back to our series on Donald Farmer, the shot-on-video mastermind of the late 80s and 90s, who made some of the ugliest, weirdest movies of the time. We’ve already seen and thoroughly enjoyed “Vampire Cop” and “Demon Queen”, and we move onto his second movie, 1987’s brain-hurting “Cannibal Hookers”.
Right at the very beginning, we’re given confusing information. Before the title comes up, we have a screen reading “I Will Dance On Your Grave vol. 3”. Volume 3? This is only Farmer’s second movie! Why do you baffle me so? As best as I can gather from my limited research, “I Will Dance” is the subtitle of at least three equally ugly, violent, cheap movies – “Death Blow: A Cry For Justice” (memorably described as “Rape Movie” by one of its IMDB reviewers), directed by Rafael Nussbaum; “Killing Spree”, directed by Tim Ritter, and this, all from 1987; and another Farmer epic from 1993, “Savage Vengeance”. I would love to know what made those fellows band together!
After some poorly shot home movie footage of downtown LA, we’re right into the action. A chap called Lobo (every single inbred redneck stereotype you’ve ever seen, rolled into one person) is eating a person in his cellar, and a surprisingly authentic-looking prostitute strolls in to complain about him. She’s authentic-looking due to having awful makeup, ugly 80s “glamour” underwear and being a few years north of your traditional movie hookers, but we don’t have time to get used to her before we’re introduced to more equally unappealing-looking men and women, making up the cast of this here classic. Nor do we get any justification for why Lobo is in this movie, sadly – not what he does for the hookers, or anything like that.
I won’t bother with names, mostly because I don’t remember any of them (apart from Lobo) but partly because even IMDB doesn’t know who half of them are. Seriously, do any of you read reviews and go “I’m not paying attention to this because he didn’t write the character names down”? If you’re detail-oriented like that, I suggest pondering on this being a review of a near-30-year-old movie called “Cannibal Hookers”, shot for about the same amount of money as you have in your pockets right now. Anyway, the movie! A couple of women want to pledge at a sorority, but the head sister (who looks comfortably old enough to have a daughter in college) decides their initiation is to dress up like a prostitute, pick some guy up, take them to a specific address and have sex with them for money. The 80s!
Luckily, in this gigantic city, as our two heroines are stood on a street corner, Girl 1’s boyfriend and two of his friends happen to be strolling by, so they all go to the mysterious address, which appears to be a real genuine whorehouse! So, people get trapped and eaten, escapes, rescues, etc. Also, almost entirely unrelated (until the last five minutes) is a subplot about two cops tracking down the cannibals. They’re kind of the comic relief, as one of the cops is so stupid it’s a surprise he’s able to tie his shoelaces every morning. The other one is generic tough cop guy, but he’s pretty stupid too.
Farmer appears to have improved by leaps and bounds since the previous year’s “Demon Queen”. Okay, the sound is still terrible, and the majority of the acting is on the amateur side (in other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d hired a bunch of hookers and homeless guys to be his actors) but the effects work much better and you can see what’s going on most of the time. So kudos to him, but obviously all the stuff that’s still hilariously bad is way more fun to talk about.
Our girls are buying their hooker outfits from what appears to be a clothes rail inside a comic shop. Is that a thing? Main cannibal lady is rubbing some gore on herself, and you can see the “please yell cut soon, because this is disgusting” in her eyes. One hooker disrobes and her underwear is actually less revealing than her dress. There’s a padding scene of someone driving round…in the last five minutes of the movie. And then there’s the two biggies. First up, being a cannibal is apparently a communicable disease now! Much like “Demon Queen” was about a vampire, so is this, but they just altered the name to give themselves a bit of variety – this at least explains why this group of cannibals leaves dead bodies for the police to find that are barely touched.
And the other biggie is the ending, which I’m not going to spoil. But if you watch it yourself, and I’d highly recommend it because the world of Donald Farmer is one you ought to visit as often as possible, just have a think about it for a minute. It’s an even odder ending than “Demon Queen”. Add that experience to the wonderfully dreadful music which drowns so many scenes, and you’ve got yourself another gem.
Now, don’t mistake my happiness at describing this movie for saying it’s “good”. Good and bad are sticky concepts when you’re down at the bottom of the cinematic heap, as we are here. What it is, is a bloke with no money and a bit of a sense of humour just making something happen. These movies (and many more to come) are cheap, ugly, filled with insane performances and often ropey special effects, but they’ve got energy and they get a story told. I see Farmer as a precursor to people like friend of ISCFC and filmmaker extraordinaire Len Kabasinski – a guy who just goes out there and gets it done, screw the budget (although Kabasinski hires good actors from time to time and has brilliant fight scenes).
Rating: thumbs up