July 26, 2020

DEAD DICKS: Come for the Title, Stay for the Surprises

DEAD DICKS (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Heston Horwin, Julian Harris, Matt Keyes. Directed by Chris Bavota & Lee Paula Springer. (2019/83 min)
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Despite the twisted premise, Dead Dicks isn't quite the outrageous horror-comedy its snicker-inducing title suggests. Though it's often very funny and has moments that are certainly horrific, the film has a lot to say about the nature of clinical depression and its beleaguering effect on loved ones.

Becca (Jillian Harris) has just been accepted into a prestigious nursing program, but is uncertain how to tell her unstable, suicidal older brother, Dick (Heston Horwin), who's depended on her every since their mother died. One night he calls her, urgently begging her to come to his apartment right away. Becca arrives to find him dead in the closet, having hung himself. But then another Dick comes into the room, alive and well. It turns out that Dick has already killed himself four times – with the bodies to show for it - but returns each time from a vagina-like hole in his bedroom wall.

That's just beginning of their problems. There are four bodies to get rid of and Dick appears content to have Becca clean up the mess with nothing but a handsaw and Hefty bags. Because she has already put most of her own life on hold to tend to his emotional needs, his seeming indifference to the enormity of the current problem is maddening. Matters get even more complicated when downstairs neighbor, Matt (Matt Keyes), who's already had enough of Dick's behavior, ends up getting involved.

Dick ignores the bag's warning label.
But Dead Dicks is not-so-much a horror story as it is an exploration of the relationship between the two siblings, which grows increasingly volatile with each new complication, including some surprising plot twists I wouldn't dream of revealing here. Dick is almost insufferable at times, yet Becca continues to support him, even after it becomes apparent she's literally no longer free to live her own life. Hence, there are moments when their relationship is almost poignantly touching.

Only during the convoluted climax does the film drop the ball. I'm all for open-ended, ambiguous endings, but without going into to detail which might spoil things, the denouement doesn't really make much sense in the context of the story. It's almost as if writer-directors Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer were dead-set on creating a debate-worthy conclusion without providing evidence for any kind of compelling argument. Or hell, maybe I just missed something. At any rate, the ending is disappointing.

But until then, Dead Dicks is an engaging, darkly-funny film that doesn't deserve being strapped with such a juvenile title. Extremely well-made with a limited budget, it features good performances, well-drawn characters which suggest they were created from personal experience and, to be certain, one gleefully over-the-top, shockingly-funny sequence you absolutely won't see coming.

VIDEO DIARIES - Four entries by the two directors, mostly covering the beginning or production. 
FX FEATURETTE - A two minute behind the scenes look at the film's most elaborate - and impressive - special effects sequence.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By directors Chris Bavota & Lee Paula Springer.


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