Review by Ben Bussey
“Stop all the rapin’ and killin’! You can’t run around rapin’ and killin’ everythin’ in fuckin’ sight!”
Given that Dear God No! has only been granted an 18 certificate from the BBFC after 1 minute 37 seconds of cuts, it’s fair to say this line from early in the movie is a sentiment shared by some. And given that the guy who says this to the belligerent biker gang The Impalers winds up stabbed to death not long thereafter, we can safely assume it’s not a sentiment the makers of Dear God No! have much time for. From the opening seconds it’s immediately apparent that this is a movie determined to be as deliberately offensive as possible; if it’s politically incorrect, it’s fair game. However, it’s all handled with such self-conscious, cartoonish excess that I should hope any reasonable person would be hard pushed to be genuinely offended. Just how reasonable most of us are these days is another matter…
Marc gave Dear God No! a storming write-up back in November 2011, in which he emphasised the mindset one must enter in approaching the film: set aside critical faculty, down a couple of beers and just enjoy. I must admit straight away, this is a mindset I often struggle to get into with these neo-grindhouse films. I appreciate director James Bickert’s desire was for the film to play, in Marc’s words, “like a lost film from that era, not a modern film paying homage,” but I’m not sure the film is entirely successful in this – or even if such a thing is really possible. Even though they shot it on Super 16mm rather than digital, and cast it with real bikers and strippers rather than professional actors, that doesn’t mean that Dear God No! is completely free from the artifice that plagues (yet defines?) this new wave of exploitation. I don’t hold Bickert or any of his team at fault for this; I just don’t think it’s entirely possible to recapture that same 70s vibe. Any attempt to recreate the mood of a past era is invariably going to have a degree of fakery about it, particularly when trying to evoke an era as genuinely bizarre as the golden age of grindhouse. The neo-grindhouse movies can’t help but carry a distinct whiff of quirky, ironic hipster humour about them, and to my mind Dear God No! is no exception, I’m afraid.
Still with me? Good. Because so long as you can accept the film on those terms, then there’s no reason Dear God No! shouldn’t still show you a great time.
As with all the best censor-baiters, Dear God No! is all about excess. Sex and violence are the sales points, and – unlike many of its contemporaries – this is one film that definitely can’t be accused of false advertising. There’s none of that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nudity here: when someone takes their clothes off, you can rest assured you’ll know they’re naked, for a good long while. The early strip club scene starring the already iconic Nixon-masked go-go girls spends so long focusing on the strippers, you’ll wonder if Bickert has forgotten about the film completely for a few minutes. Indeed, perhaps he did. Storytelling and character building are fairly low on the agenda here, after all. If something gory or raunchy occurs, you can be sure it’ll carry on occuring for some time, possibly longer than you really want it to. Of course, much the same attitude is brought to the rape scenes, which will inevitably rub some up the wrong way, even after the BBFC-imposed cuts. Still, Irreversible this ain’t. It’s bad taste comedy contrived to push beyond the comfort zone of most, not unlike the breakthrough films of Sam Raimi, Stuart Gordon and Peter Jackson. And yes, as that statement might imply, Dear God No! does veer from biker movie madness into full-blown horror territory; at this point it probably wouldn’t be a spoiler to detail quite how, but I’ll avoid the specifics here anyway. Just rest assured the last twenty minutes or so are the most absurd of all, and all those bad folk get their comeuppance. As to whether seeing the rapists die horribly justifies rape as horror spectacle – that’s a question we can (and I’ve no doubt will) carry on debating at length elsewhere…
Fans of the film should be pleased with this 2 disc ‘Impaler’ edition from Monster Pictures. It’s got an exclusive alternate ‘grindhouse’ cut of the film; i.e. the exact same film, but with some of those superimposed scratchy, battered print effects (which I rather think goes against the director’s desire for period naturalism, but hey), plus a buttload of extras including commentaries, behind the scenes footage and loads more, plus – another exclusive – a supplementary booklet written by Bickert and illustrator Tom ‘The Dude Designs’ Hodge.
Oh, and for the benefit of the female staff of BaH, may I just emphasise – mighty beards aplenty. Enjoy.
Dear God No! is released to Region 2 DVD on 14th January, from Monster Pictures.