Mania Grade: D-
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- Starring: Jett Bryant, Madeline Brumby, Paul McComisky, Olivia LaCroix
- Written By: James Bickert
- Directed By: James Bickert
- Original Year of Release: 2012
- Distributor: Big World Pictures
Dear God No! DVD Review
Neo-faux exploitation doesn't get it
By Chuck Francisco
June 04, 2012
You have to be a special brand of film buff to dig on exploitation films. That's not a slight on anyone who doesn't see the appeal; it's reality ripping out through the seedy under belly of a shameless subtype of cinema. Some people get it and some simply don't. The trouble of it all comes along when some of those that don't understand exploitation happen to be film makers. The genre wave we're currently surfing is largely thanks to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, whose Grindhouse was a love letter to bygone film going era, and suffered only slightly from too high a budget to feel authentic. Still it was an awesome time and led into Rodriguez's delightfully sleazy Machete, which would finally give Danny Trejo leading man status and confirm everything we ever suspected about Lindsey Lohan. The only disappointment to be spawned directly by their excellent tribute was Hobo with a Shotgun, which failed directly because it wasn't an earnest effort; it didn't have heart and it wasn't a serious attempted by an auteur director who was severely constrained by budget and talent.
And now we have Dear God No! which really very much wants you to think of it in the same vein as biker flicks from the 60's and 70's; the days they co-ruled the drive-in format along with Sexsploitation gems. It's evident right from the start that this picture doesn't grasp the entirety of the exploitation concept right from the get go: as the film opens there's an incredibly heavy over usage of a film grain damage filter. I'd like to qualify this a bit by saying that I cohost repertoire horror film screenings in 35mm and love when a print has "character" and still the amount of filtering used in Dear God No! Made my mind flash right to thinking "really?". As quickly as it's an ingrained part of the film, the over texturing is gone and doesn't really show up again until much later in the film. It isn't subtle either and took me right out when it suddenly reappears out of nowhere. It's jarring.
The amount of absurdities contained here read like a laundry list: nuns raped, strippers in Richard Nixon masks, Sasquatch, children shot, mad scientist, nazis, gun fights, revenge murders and pregnant women raped (oh my!). Take any two of those for the plot of your film and you're probably golden but it seems like the writers here literally said "how can we make our movie more outrageous?" over and over again (I'm imagining it in a Jerry Lewis voice). Sooner or later that breaks the film and the viewers of their ability not to roll their eyes. When the seesaw tips from movie makers trying their best to tell you a story (sensationally exploitative or not) to simply being outrageous for the sake of added layers of perceived crazy then the line's been crossed into Troma territory. There's no returning from that. You can't un-wink and nod at the audience.
The list of faults also reads like a laundry list: our main biker clearly has beard extensions on, groan worthy acting, weak gun wound effects, odd character motivations and the aforementioned shoehorn approach intended to shock audiences. What does Oh God No! have going in it's favor? Tits. Loads of tits. Extended stripper dance scenes and a topless strip club gun fight which is (sadly) not nearly as awesome in it's execution as it sounds.
There's a market for this film among the faux exploitation fans out there and fans of Troma. If you really enjoyed the shit out of Zombie Strippers, Hobo with a Shotgun or Chillerama then this overwrought excursion is likely right up your alley. If you enjoy actual exploitation films I'd recommend you steer clear. The beauty of those classics is that they were earnestly trying, they had heart. This film just has a list of crazy-zany topics which it parades before you like a broken YouTube channel minus the funny.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist for Mania writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights and Colonial Cult Cinema.You can delve further into his love of all things weird and campy on his blog, The Midnight Cheese or hear him occasionally guesting on eminent podcast You've Got Geek.