Dead Nude Girls (2014)
Review by Jude Felton
Having followed the directorial career of Canadian enfant terrible, Ryan Nicholson, since his debut short film, Torched, it’s always with a high level of anticipation that I approach each new movie. With 2006’s Live Feed he probably went as close to mainstream accessibility as I imagine he ever will, and that was probably due in part to the incredible success of Eli Roth’s Hostel, even though the two films are very different.
Since then Nicholson has delivered a handful of movies that would quite easily have found themselves at home in the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s, with Gutterballs movie homages to the likes of Maniac and I Spit on Your Grave, to Hanger’s almost Troma-esque gross-out qualities. What all of his films have had though, even through their darkest moments is a sick, black sense of humor. You knew you were watching a film and they entertained as much as they disgusted. With Dead Nude Girls though, Nicholson has taken a much darker and more disturbing route. You have been warned.
Set up as three separate tales, all with the main central character (surprisingly played by Nicholson himself), entitled Axe Wound, Golden Shower and Rump Roast, respectively. Dead Nude Girls is low budget, nihilistic and utterly distasteful, and that is not meant in a negative light. When Nicholson promises to deliver sick and disturbing films he rarely disappoints, although with this 55 minute beast I believe he has upped the ante, and in turn tested the tolerance levels of his fans.
Now, you may think this review to be one that is filled full of pointless hyperbole, in order you give the film some sort of promotional push. That could be true, had it not been as undeniably savage as it ended up being. I don’t believe I have ever seen Nicholson delve this deep into the abyss for his material. Not even back in his debut, Torched, which is probably his darkest movie prior to this, has he shown such complete disregard for human beings.
The individual tales contained here are pretty much self-explanatory. That is to say that they live up to their titles, and what you might think they entail is pretty much what you will get.
The female actresses here must be given credit for enduring what I can only imagine to being an incredibly uncomfortable shoot. The end results though are thoroughly convincing, as they play opposite Nicholson’s detestable villain. Dead Nude Girls, for those that like comparisons, is as if Toe Tag’s August Underground movies married Adam Rehmeier’s The Bunny Game in a ceremony conducted by Frank Zito. In fact, Nicholson’s villain in this movie owes quite a bit to Joe Spinnel’s famous character from Bill Lustig’s Maniac.
The entire film is very low budget, which much of the onscreen carnage happening in one room, yet thankfully we aren’t subjected to shaky camera work. The score is minimal, but most effective when it does kick in, and the onscreen violence is at times hard to watch. It’s actually far from gory, in comparison to previous Plotdigger films, although there is plenty of blood here. In terms of actual gore, there are only a handful of scenes that you would describe this way; it’s the tone of the film, more so than anything else, which really takes this film into its dark resting place. Don’t be mistaken though, this is an incredibly explicit movie. What it lacks in term of the visceral, it more than makes up for in other ways.
With Dead Nude Girls, Ryan Nicholson has really pushed the envelope in terms of what viewers will expect from him. I’m sure he will lose fans, as well as gain a few, but I don’t think there will be many that “enjoy” the film. Much as I thought The Bunny Game was an incredibly good movie, I didn’t enjoy it. Dead Nude Girls is similar in that respect. I didn’t finish watching it and think to myself I have to watch it again, and maybe I never will. However, in terms of truly disturbing horror/exploitation I honestly believe that Nicholson has outdone himself.
This film will upset, offend and quite honestly piss a lot of people off, and that in itself is quite an achievement. Nicholson has never been one to play it safe and this film is no exception, especially with casting himself in the lead role. There’s no cool soundtrack, no snappy one-liners, just 55 minutes of pain, suffering and graphic nudity.
Prepare to love it. Prepare to hate it. Just prepare yourself, as it’s not an easy hour to sit through. In Ryan’s own words, Dead Nude Girls is “pretty vile”. He’s not wrong, and it is definitely by far his most powerful movie to date.
Dead Nude Girls is available to buy, on Blu-ray and DVD, through Plotdigger Films.