SALEM KAPSASKI - MUSICAL COMEDY HORROR - 2HR 5MIN
I've been a fan of Troma entertainment ever since first laying eyes on Lloyd Kaufman's Toxic Avenger debut film. It's been a love affair with the large staple of juvenile, gross, violent, imaginative low budget films; a love affair that continues to this very day. In fact, one of our recent favorites here at Thirteenth Floor, is fledgling director Kansas Bowling's B.C. Butcher. And while many are put off or decry these same films for the rough-around-the-edges production, or low budget aesthetic, we personally find those qualities to be signature traits of Troma that do more in the way of adding character, rather than taking away any artistic or cinematic integrity. Love it or hate it, point is at least here, we're always down to run through a new Troma family release. Spidarlings is no exception.
Written and directed by Salem Kapsaski (London Calling, Trashtastic) this daring little fever dream is described as a queer punk rock horror musical, and at the very least, points right off the bat for the unusual mashup. The brief plot synopsis too, is suitably intriguing:
Poverty stricken lovers Eden and Matilda have enough trouble just getting through the days, but when Eden buys a pet spider the real troubles start
With that information in mind, I was absolutely certain this would keep me on my toes, if not completely knock me out my socks. It's unfortunate then that while the later turned out not to be the case, the former did, but mostly for the wrong reasons. Now, I mentioned before that many of the low-budget qualities inherent in a lot of (all?) Troma films, typically work for the style and expectations of said films. However, those "negative" qualities never really get in the way of simply watching the film, which is what happens to be the case with Spidarlings. Incredibly uneven sound stage - especially concerning the vocals - make the dialogue a pain to follow along with. Some of the dubbing makes it hard to tell who's speaking. A few of the editing decisions tend to break the flow of scenes making for a disjointed feeling story. Likewise, the directing seems to be far too loose for its own good, allowing character performances to go on wild tangents - which at best - breaks the flow of scenes, and at worst, the essence of a character betrayed. It's also too damn long.
Spidarlings is a scattered Troma cabaret that, while nailing it in the music department (and I mean, it really nails it), and doing some interesting things with the visuals in the way of harsh colored lighting and - charmingly vile - animated interludes, failed to keep me thoroughly engaged or entertained. A damn shame too given the amount of heart this film has, and the endearing personalities and chemistry between Sophia Disgrace (Eden) and Rahel Kapsaski (Matilda). Spidarlings has plenty to say with regards to the male gaze, female oppression, and the sad necessity to compromise one's self in order to survive, but a lot of the impact and poignancy is dulled by the film's many technical and directional problems. I say give it a shot anyway, despite the problems, if not just for the sake of experiencing a fairly unique Troma film, one scored with some incredibly catchy tunes. You can catch it on Troma's own VOD service - link below