Sunday, December 21, 2008

BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS (2005) d. Sergio Blasco

Reviewed by Rick Trottier

As children, we are taught about the Glory of Everlasting Life and the Kingdom of God, the story often acting as a sort of motivational lesson for youngsters so they can work hard and be well-behaved in hopes of Eventual Reward. In a similar fashion, we are also warned about the horrors of Eternal Damnation in the fiery pits of Hell, which tends to have an even more powerful effect on the simplistic juvenile mind. No one wants to end up wallowing in lakes of acid and breathing in the sulfurous fumes of brimstone until Judgment Day. The problem is that we are not always told the truth that Hell comes in many forms, the most terrifying being endless boredom brought about by viewing miserably crafted and interminably pointless movies. Hell on Earth would certainly be watching BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS for a second time, for now that I’ve seen it once, I have a clear understanding of what the Underworld’s torments must surely be.

BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS is the story of rock star Toni Belcebu, junky/prostitutes Mani and Loli and camera technician Angel, all of whose paths cross during the machinations of The Devil as he finds new ways to corrupt and enslave humanity. Toni is approached by a seductive demon who offers him a chance to further his ambitions of being the greatest rock star in the world while simultaneously assisting The Beast in his malevolent aims. Mani is searching for her lost little sister, her path leading back to a life of debauchery and drugs within the dens of Belcebu, while Angel is hired to shoot film in Belcebu’s porn studios. He briefly feels a sense of concern for Mani as her life spins out of control once more. As Mani descends a stairway of doom the closer she gets to Belcebu, and Angel’s puritanical belief system is unseated by his association with sin unimaginable, plans are made to bring about Satan’s victory through a rite involving blood, sex and violence. Will The Devil triumph or will the police get there in time to stop him?

Writers of all types must call forth their many experiences to make their stories interesting and evocative, and it is one of the greatest challenges to make those memories/incidents relevant and comprehensible to whomever comes in contact with them, whether it is a film screenplay, a novel or drama. BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS fails miserably on this count despite the fact that much of the “story” of this flick must be torn straight from the history of Sergio Blasco, solo musician and guitarist fro Ozzie Osbourne. We get to see a great deal of the sleazy and underhanded workings of the business side of the music and “entertainment” industry. In addition, the drug use, sex and perversity of rock & roll are thoroughly on display as well. One would imagine that Mr. Blasco has probably seen it all and his willingness to tell that tale sounds rich fodder for a powerful narrative if these two ideas could be somehow grafted onto the primary conflict of Satanic Ascendancy, but therein lies the problem. The plot of BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS is horrifically disjointed, constantly bouncing back and forth between the dissolute life of Toni Belcebu, the depressing decline of Mani and the utterly meaningless tale of Angel and the tone sways drunkenly between self-important melodrama, self-indulgent debauchery, comedy and somber Satanism. While the film starts off with a seemingly clear direction and some early action that intensifies the pace, and it ends in an orgiastic explosion of blood, viscous fluids, gunfire and all manner of ghastliness, most of the rest of the story in between is horrendously “talky”, jarring in the way it is structured, often lacks cohesion and just becomes paralyzingly dull much of the time. Even though a fair amount of nudity and sexual depravity is interspersed throughout the film’s duration, no amount of naughtiness can energize such a tedious story. It also doesn’t help that too much emphasis is placed on drug use as a vehicle for spectacle and shock value. After a while, watching other people shoot up becomes monotonous and thoroughly uninteresting.

There is more bad news. BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS looks bad too. Whether it is the way it was shot, the quality of the film stock or how the disc was authored, BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS is dark, grainy and lacks sharpness. What is clearly the fault of the film maker is how poorly framed and composed most scenes are. We are frequently too far away, too close, looking at the backs of people’s heads or unable to see what is happening due to poor lighting. The vast majority of the cast appeared to be minimally competent and/or inexperienced actors who really didn’t have a lot to give to such a project. Sergio Blasco may be a talented musician, but directing a feature film is very different than what occurs on the set of a Music Video. One thing that kept me from ripping this disc from my player was the fact that BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS is a Spanish language film. Spanish is a fairly attractive tongue and listening to those sonorous sounds while reading subtitles helped to distract me at times from what appeared to be wooden performances. At times, the audio elements of BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS were also improved by some of the music layered over the story, but that happened far too infrequently and was probably avoided so as to keep this film from being nothing more than a vehicle for Blasco’s music. I may have liked it better if it had played more like an older 1980s vintage MTV short rather than roughly 90 minutes of chaotic and lackluster foolishness.

There is an “extras” menu on BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS but it was almost as inane as the film. There is a “Behind the Scenes” featurette, but it lacks English subtitles, so for anyone without strong Spanish-speaking skills, this will be of little value. There is the original trailer, which I had no interest in viewing after enduring the feature film. Just before the main feature, we are “treated” to an “introduction” by Lloyd Kaufman and two attractive tromettes, but typical of most things touched by Troma, it is long, tiresome and painfully lacking in any humorous content. More than anything, the “introduction” smacked of being the usual Troma marketing tactics luring the unwary into sampling its other titles. Finally there were SEVEN autoplay trailers that came up before the main menu, each of which had the long Troma header and was a thoroughly ghastly-looking Troma film I didn’t want to see. Points must be given to any disc that has a bonus features menu, but these “extras” made me feel like I had just received reindeer poop in my Christmas stocking instead of coal.

As we age, the fear of death drops away for many reasons. For me, it is the knowledge that I have done something positive with my days, have left a legacy and have helped people to some small degree. If this review keeps you from watching this DVD and warns you off of other Troma releases, I can die a happy man tomorrow, for I will have added a sizable line to my list of Life’s Good Deeds. Hopefully, such pains will earn my Eternal Reward and keep me from being punished in Hell by experiencing BELCEBU: DIABLOS LESBOS a second time.

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