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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Horns, Tail, and Rock and Roll.
That's what DEVIL GIRL offers, but do you want it? You should know the answer before you plunk down your money.
When the movie begins, Merry Mishaps occur.
Yeah, just that fast.
DEVIL GIRL hits the screen like a rude interruption. This isn't the way movies are supposed to behave, all loud and barbaric. But DEVIL GIRL does.
If the movie screen were a door, DEVIL GIRL kicked it in and welcomed itself without permission. Now I've seen a lot of movies open with that studio obligatory "hook" that is supposed to grab us in the first five or ten minutes. Then the rest of the film settles down as if in apology for its bad behavior - but DEVIL GIRL stays bad. It goes into our fridge, puts its feet up on our table, farts, and hits on our lover. This is no accident and it didn't just happen by chance. Writers Tracy Wilcox and Howie Askins (also directed) were going for the kind of zen mayhem of Director Richard C. Sarafian's 1971 muscle car flick, VANISHING POINT.
One of the things about VANISHING POINT was: it didn't have one - a point that is. It was mainly a visual of Chrysler cars zooming all over the place with the thinnest of plots threading through it. And yet, in Sarafian's capable hands, the movie became an American Opera for the combustion crowd. And while films that rely on pure visuals and adrenalin, from surfer movies to chase movies, exist in their own realm, no one ever did the all American Thriller car movie (and there were hundreds) like Sarafian.
There have been others to be sure. Before VANISHING POINT there were the Roger Corman Car and Bike flicks. VANISHING POINT left them in the dust. In modern times there were still more. The Fast and The Furious came close. It nearly delivered, except it kept sputtering between high octane and wanting to be an anti-hero / detective flick somewhere between To Live and Die in L.A. and Bad Boys. DEVIL GIRL delivers precisely because the film makers know what it is, where they are going, and how to get there. For all of its synapse cuts, and there are probably too many at times, DEVIL GIRL has direction. The story is going somewhere.
On DEVIL GIRL, first time Director Howie is also First time Editor, Casting Director, and Writer. Howie adrenalizes the first ten minutes of this movie and I was wondering if it was about to get lost in its Hi-Def digitally shot visuals, smeary camera pans, and unfocused drive-by scenics. It took me dangerously close to not giving a damn when the movie finally coalesced into a very loose tale about a girl named Fay (Jessica Graham) who, after the death of her auto-mechanic father (Tim Abel: HYBRID), leaves her little sister (Elina Madison: MY DARK DAYS, MINER'S MASSACRE, THE STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE ) for a long drive from somewhere U.S.A. out to California. She earns extra money by betting on pool games and illegal races in her car. She shows no interest in men: Fay is all about the road and speed. Petite and frail, you realize that Fay cannot stand up to any danger that steps in her way.
Next we meet The Clown (Joe Wanjai Ross). Spouting a spray of incomprehensibles at 80 miles an hour, The Clown dresses in tattered street clothes but perpetually keeps his clown make-up touched up and oh-so-perfect. One might even say he's deliriously obsessed.
The Clown is anarchic evil: deadly, helpful, cruel, funny, malevolent, and totally unpredictable. We shouldn't like him, but somehow we do. He is nearly the id inside of us: the writhing lizard brain of our anger, self-doubt, and fear. He too is on the road, though this one is making his way from somewhere to nowhere; haunted always by his personal demons, terrors, and possible salvation that comes in the form of a Devil Girl (Vanessa Kay) driving an old Ford Thunderbird.
Whether the Devil Girl is real, a figment of someone's hallucination, or a metaphor, is never made clear. She appears from time to time, never to speak wisdom or help, but only to be who she is. The only thing that gets Devil Girl's goat is people who pretend to be something they're not. She may be a Western Christian interpretation of the Norse god Loki, but more than anything else, she is the fleshly incarnation of the Devil Girl that has been drawn by California artists from Robert Williams to Coop.
Through mischance and circumstance, Fay unwittingly crosses paths with The Clown, leaving her broke and busted in a small town with no way to pay for a room at the local hotel but by stripping in the nearby club. She has to dance to pay for her motel room while she waits for a car part that will put her back on the road again. Fay doesn't want to do it, and her perceived betrayal of self brings storms upon her.
There is no character complexity in DEVIL GIRL. Even those people who try to hide behind a façade of religious goodness can't disguise who they are. As written by Wilcox and Askins, their true natures sweat out of their pores, their wolfish, toothy grins, and their air of oily cordiality.
Director Askins flirts with the quick cuts, flash cuts and other video dross as he weaves drunkenly through this tale. Hanging on by his fingernails, the disparate cuts become more remindful of a Darren Aronofsky style than a late Tobe Hooper / early Rob Zombie style. In fact, I'd say that DEVIL GIRL is the movie we were hoping Rob Zombie would give us when we settled for HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES.* It's the movie we thought David Lynch was going to give us when we settled for LOST HIGHWAY. It's the movie I hope Tarantino and Rodriguez will give us later this year with GRIND HOUSE.
Though not without its faults, DEVIL GIRL still delivers on all that is promised and more. It's a fast paced, energized car movie that is exactly the kind of balls-to-the-wall thrill that we are always promised but never see delivered. We've waited too long for a worthy successor to VANISHING POINT, and DEVIL GIRL not only blows the doors off Sarafian's flick, it knocks VANISHING POINT's dick in the dirt.
I shit you not gang! DEVIL GIRL is a turbo-thrust thrill-a-minute joyride to hell on vinyl seats.
Get in it! Shut up! And hold on!
Four Shriek Girls.