New Horror Release Review: Dahmer vs. Gacy (2011)
KING KONG VS. GODZILLA. DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN. FREDDY VS. JASON. Pitting creature against creature is not a new phenomena (although the SyFy channel has taken it into some truly bizarre territory). But what about real life monsters? Let’s face it; we’re a society obsessed with serial killers and death. Just look on channels like Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, or Investigative TV and you can see endless shows on serial killers and their crimes. So why not DAHMER VS. GACY? Let’s take the “versus” craze and match it up with America’s preoccupation with real life killers. Is it exploitive? Of course. Is it silly? Definitely. Is it any good? Let’s find out.
Dr. Stravinski (Peter Zhmutski) heads up the ultra secret Project X-13, such a secret, in fact, that the president himself doesn’t know about it. As the film opens we see Stravinski recruiting Dr. Hess (Art LaFleur) for his expertise in gene isolation. Why? Because Project X-13 is doing experiments in human cloning in order to make super soldiers. They’re using the DNA of dead serial killers and need Hess’ help in isolating the gene that makes serial killers such effective and successful killing machines. So far they’ve gone through 30 generations of cloned killers, each one being more deadlier than the last. And now two of the deadliest killers, Dahmer Ford Austin) and Gacy (Randal Malone), have escaped and gone on a killing spree to prove who the best killer is.
In another storyline God (voiced by Harland Williams) isn’t too happy with the escaped cloned killers and recruits Ringo (also played by Ford Austin, and is also the director) as His holy soldier. Ringo is a bit of a nut job who takes up arms against Dahmer and Gacy all to readily. Along the way Ringo must also fight off a pack of killer ninjas sent by the Japanese who just magically appear and disappear into thin air. Yeah I know … the plot sounds like a mess. But just wait; there’s more. General Arbogast (Bonnie Aarons; a nod to PSYCHO?), who has some of the funniest moments on screen, decides to unleash X-13 (Ethan Phillips) to hunt down and kill Dahmer and Gacy. X-13 is a super soldier prototype (I think; it wasn’t very clear) and is supposed to be more violent and crazy than the titular duo. The only thing DAHMER VS. GACY is missing is zombies, vampires, and aliens.
There’s a lot going on in the story; too much in fact. Writers Andrew Rausch and Chris Watson went over board and cluttered up the plot with too many story lines, and unfortunately I never felt satisfied with any of them. The ninjas come and go adding nothing to the story; X-13 is all but forgotten and then brought back at the end of the film almost as an after thought; and Ringo and god pretty much disappear about half way through the film. There’s also a surprising absence of Gacy. Director Austin forgets that what the viewer really wants is a lot of excessively gory scenes of Dahmer and Gacy killing a lot of people. Instead Austin focuses more on the humorous elements in the film. For example, Dr. Stravinski, the head of the ultra super secret Project X-13, is wearing a lab coat with “Project X-13” stenciled in bold faced letters on the back, and there’s also some “jokes” about a midget mime (Jerry Maren, who was in the original WIZARD OF OZ) that falls flat on it’s face.
There’s also a definite absence of scenes with Dahmer and Gacy. I mention above that Gacy doesn’t seem to have that much screen time, but we do see Dahmer more … but he really doesn’t do much. There’s one scene where we see Dahmer kill and fuck a bum (Del Howison), in that order, but the scene still left ya feeling a little let down. DAHMER VS. GACY, in general, lacks the red stuff. The gore is limited to huge, Troma-like blood spraying from wounds, and pretty much all the violence occurs both off screen and through “news reports” we get from news caster Hal Anderson (Trey Alexander). This was really disappointing and deprived the viewer from getting what they really wanted: Mindless gory carnage and death from Dahmer and Gacy.
The one interesting element here is when Austin explores societies obsession with serial killers, violence, and celebrity worship in general. We see news casts where reporters interview hot girls with big titties claiming to love Dahmer and Gacy whom they follow around, wishing and rooting for a higher and higher body count. This was the one intelligent moment here that was dropped as soon as it was introduced. Austin and the writers flirted with a NATURAL BORN KILLERS message but ultimately abandoned it in favor of more silly and ridiculous humor. It was disappointing, but I must admit that I enjoy really juvenile and silly humor. I liked the dialogue between God and Ringo, for example, and thought it was pretty funny. So sue me, but I found myself enjoying parts of this film while at the same time wishing for more blood, guts, and gore. Too much humor, guys, and not enough horror.
At the end of the day DAHMER VS. GACY should have been a 20-30 minute short. Maybe in more experienced hands we could have gotten a fun and gory flick with well-placed humor. Instead we get a decent premise pissed away by a too-convoluted plot, too much silly humor, and not nearly enough gore to overall satisfy. There’s a fun movie in here somewhere (and I did find myself enjoying this one) but the filmmakers need to edit a lot of the superfluous crap out of it … A LOT. And brace yourselves … there’s talk of DAHMER VS. GACY 2: IN SPACE. Let’s hope the filmmakers involved grow a little more and get a little more focus and experience!! There’s some fun moments in DAHMER VS. GACY but it’s overall a disappointing movie.
Director: Ford Austin
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer