The Macabre Brothers share an affinity for bargain-bin horror films. It’s actually more like an addiction – hardly a month goes by without one of us wasting $5 on some dubious DVD title. Such impulse buys may not deserve a full review, but like porn, they’re worth a quick and shameful glance. In Basement Ramblings, we answer your most meaningful question: Is this month’s piece of crap worth the price of a Big Mac?
The premise: Few things scream “trashy prostitute whodunit” like a no-budget flick set in the sunny, coastal oasis of Buenos Aires. The film’s foremost gumshoe, a corrupt yet competent asshole named Sean Fallon (video game voice man James Horan), catches wind of a grisly and totally twisted serial killer in the otherwise picturesque city. This menace has a knack for leaving Argentina’s finest courtesans/hookers “raped to death,” as one local cop so eloquently says, and gives Fallon a foe worth his damned-if-I-care attitude. Throw in the detective’s prostitute girlfriend, a touch of nun rape and bizarre subplots with Lance Henriksen, and that’s Final Spawn (also known as Dying God) in a nutshell. Be warned: Despite laughable fake accents and a few decent one-liners, this horror-fied take on the crooked cop genre doesn’t quite translate. Also, comic book Spawn never makes an appearance, which is real disappointing.
Where I found it: Patiently waiting in the same kind, caring, neverending collection of low-budget horror films I found at Walmart for $5. It was digitally nestled next to experiments like the weird bayou flick Beneath the Mississippi.
Why it caught my eye: Final Spawn is the only film in the collection with a legitimate distribution studio, so I figured that was worth something. What Dimension Films saw in this flick is still a mystery, but who knows? Maybe cheapo DVDs now subsidize some Walmart exec’s beach vacation…to BUENOS AIRES.
What works: Unlike so many B-grade horror films, Final Spawn is relatively professional, at least on the surface. The color correction is funky and the on-screen talent is wildly unpredictable, but in terms of sheer entertainment, this film stands on lofty shoulders. Fallon is cut from the same cloth as just about every ‘80s cop: He’s rude, crude and abusive as hell, but his crime-sniffing instincts are top notch. Although Horan is no Bruce Willis (or even a snarky Gary Busey), his performance never drags the film into the hell-hole it deserves. This isn’t to say he’s necessarily good – far from it, actually – but if you share the film’s love affair with decadent, Americanized cop flicks, it goes down a bit easier. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Henriksen’s throw-away performance as a ruthless pimp. More on that to come.
Although the rest of the film is a muddled mess, little glimmers of hope lighten up the rape-heavy plot. The gore FX is up to snuff, and oddly inventive locales like a strip club with formal dining tables made me chuckle. The sound is hit or miss, but listen closely during the first graphic death scene and marvel at the fwap of porn-ready testicles. It’s minutia I never expected.
What sucks: The film’s moral core, along with most everything else. I tend to give horror films a lot of leeway; on more than a few nights, I’ve sat through a torturous slog just to say I made it. The morning-after that kind of abuse is always pretty damning. Final Spawn wasn’t quite that bad – as I said, it’s just professional enough to hide gaping flaws – but it was damn close.
Without writing a treatise on what went wrong, I’ll hone in on the film’s big, ugly obsession: rape. Throughout the film, coroners and cops and prostitutes are sickened by the creature’s brutality. Not only do his victims die of rape, they’re usually torn limb by limb, found later with mutilated chests and semen-filled stomachs. Pretty brutal, but not quite the lowest of bad taste in horror. From The Hills Have Eyes to I Spit on Your Grave to The Last House on the Left, relentlessly cruel films have tried to make rape somehow meaningful, or at least make it useful for storytelling. This tactic only works rarely – even then, it’s far from a feel-good tactic – and that’s just the curse of taboos. Showing child murder on film is roughly the same.
But here’s the big hiccup with Final Spawn: Rape is simply the killer’s MO, not a psychologically weighty subject to unpack and unravel. The final 20 minutes are bogged down with the creature’s origin story, but by then, the film was already derailed by extraneous characters and motives.
For me, rape in Final Spawn was distracting at best and tasteless at worst. The only victims are marginalized females, most of whom answer to some Pimp Super PAC (with Henriksen at the helm) or the film’s real demon, the Catholic church. Did French-born director Fabrice Lambot mean to equate prostitution with that sterling institution, or did he just want to rape hookers to death? I’d say the answer doesn’t much matter. A bit from my notes:
A lot of lurid shit happened to a lot of people, but in the end, I was left with little more than the bad taste of a creature that rapes women to death.
Verdict: While the film itself is more watchable than absolute dreck, I can’t quite recommend Final Spawn. It’s the worst (and only) example of a rape-heavy horror flick/police procedural I’ve come across, so if seeing one is on your bucket list, I’d suggest waiting. And drafting a new list.
You have to be kidding me IMdB…”Sean Fallon – a corrupt cop – will have to face his own demons to put an end to a series of brutal rapes and murders of the most weirdest kind.” HA
– but also known as “Dying God”
Begins with a cold opening — several men with machetes and rifles chasing a boy through the woods
– i could’ve swore the costuming was
Next scene is a prostitute getting off work, then being killed and potentially raped by some Bane-sounding fucker. Talk about your
Heh…they resuse the same areal shot of Buenos Aires (maybe Miami?) twice within 5 minutes
Ok, the hooker was raped — “raped to death,” according to the detective. Jesus.
Gotta love the rogue detective — hungover, wearing jeans and a leather jacket with black sunglasses, smoking at the crime scene… This movie is all over the place, but I’ll give it time. After all, we have some Brazilian gay guy wearing red suspenders over a black wife beater as the strip club owner. Can’t go too wrong
The strip club rogue detective (shaun) walks into has to be the strangest thing ever — there are dinner tables with white tableclothes set between the cages. Melting pot meet shotgun willies?
Gotta love a dude who’s condescending to prostitutes — needs to distinguish between hooker and escort. Same guy who warns a perv: “I’m gonna cut off your dick and stick it in your ass”
Whoever did the lighting for this film shot everything in weird, pastel-like tints of blue — kind of distracting. I’m no film student, but lighting and color have to be two of the hardest things to get right. Props for at least trying and not bathing everything in shadow
– although the mismatched shadows during every indoor scene are a bit distracting
Shaun is the definition of a bad cop — bangs hookers, steals guns, sells them on the street, uses a pothead parolee as his errand boy
***********What’s the obsession with prostitutes in these low-grade horror films? Sure, they give the filmmakers free reign to show a bunch of tits, but there’s also a weird Puritan vibe. Punishing the sex workers of the world by killing them off isn’t just pulp — it’s classless
This dude is living the life — doing lines off a hookers back after beating up some dude
Weird shaman guy remembers the boy from cold open…
How did a white-boy cowboy end up in Buenos Aires? Maybe I’m thinking too much about the location
Coroner warns that he found active semen in the hooker’s stomach after a few days. I knew the fill was called final spawn, but this is getting pretty intense. Rape is one thing horror movies have a hard time handling…the weight of it doesn’t pair well with guilty pleasures like gore and drugs
The guy who plays Shaun isn’t the worlds greatest actor. His outbursts hardly register
oh my good lord jesus — best scene of the film so far: awful american accents on the police chief and shaun’s partner. We get spoiled by Hollywood attracting the best vocal talent, and whether you argue with that claim or not, watch a film like this. So entertaining.
This film has a very Seven vibe, mixing horror story with a police procedural. Seven isn’t quite the right analogy, but I’ll think of a better one
The pimp has a pretty bad accent also. At least he has the dignity of suffering the most off-the-cuff beheading I’ve ever seen
The porn sound of fwapping balls is taken to an entirely new level during the first graphic rape scene. The sound guy did a good (or horrific) job of making splattered blood sound just like balls.
Speaking of sound, this film has the same mastering problem as most amateur efforts
Also, there’s some B plot with a controversial election, but what or who it’s for and affects is never made clear. Guess that’s why I didn’t give two shits. I’m sure it’ll play an “integral” role at some point
– it’s so important that Shaun watches TV about it, and in a sly bit of social satire, the news tells him (and me) absolutely nothing about this all-important campaign
As fun as these bad accents are, the film itself might’ve been more interesting if they’d based it in buenos aires. Then, the cops would speak english through a portuguese lilt and we’d just assume it was like every other faux-foreign film.The film could use the added layer of a rando white guy working in Buenos Aires for some unspoken reason
So, he also beats his prostitute girlfriend, and for refusing to buy him liquor at 10am no less.
– unfortunately, she does it. This movie’s sexual politics are unfortunate, even if the guy is supposed to be a piece of shit. When rape is used as a lethal weapon, having an irredeemable main character takes shit a bit far
BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH Lance Henrikson! I thought that’s who the white-haired dude in the wheelchair was!
– and his femme fatale is the short-haired chick from AVP, the girl who talks about guns as condoms
– so he’s a gangster who’s possibly also running for the ambiguous office
They’ve brought the shaman guy into a hospital ward
– but for why? how did they find them? when was that connection made?
On a side note, Buenos Aires looks like a fun city to skate…wasn’t it in one of the Tony Hawks?
Aw, you gotta love the good old trope of a gorgeous librarian explaining everything about the supernatural being
– also, she explains all about the Mayan natives
– her pause when she talks about the “size” of the being killing women is almost cheesy enough to make me forget
– here’s the gist: shaman says his god is dying and needs to reproduce, but it has been difficult cuz his member is so big. Now it makes sense why the alternate title is “Dying God.” That’s actually kind of cooler, at least name-wise
Or maybe this is supposed to be based in Mexico City? Maybe?
Is Lance Henrikson a gambling addict or something? Maybe he and Lucy Lawless should go to meetings together
If this turns into Brazilian chupacabra, except with hookers in place of goats, I might chuckle. But uncomfortably so.
Good god, now we have nun rape
– and maybe the first glimpse of our creature beyond
For all the talk of proper prostitute verbiage, the depiction of them in is ridiculously stereotyped
– ex using baby every other word, saying something like “wanna have a good time,”
And just because, we have a gratuitous shotgun blast to the head
******There’s a lot going on in this film, and I’m not sure if I really care much about any of it. Let’s do a tally:
– Indian shaman predicting supernatural happenings
– Pimps forming a posse to protect hookers
– Bad cop beating his former hooker girlfriend
– Bad cop hitting on doctor, proving how shitty he is to girlfriend
– An election or some shit
– Lance Henriksen getting the evil eye from a pimp
– Entire Pimp ring killed by creature, except Lars
– Hooker girlfriend dies
– Lance and AVP chick have some bond thing going on, but not sexual
– An old mercury factory downtown…like the meat locker in Predator 2
Dammit — why can’t the sound effects guy be consistent? The monster effects are fucking horrible…they sound like a dude breathing heavily directly into a microphone, all while trying to imitate a dog in heat
Creature design is pretty legit — the fight between it and chick from AVP is pretty pathetic, but at least it doesn’t look like a dude in rubber padding
Chick from AVP (gotta get a name) is alive and hanging with the creature at the mercury factory
– creature starts sobbing and eyes the girl…
– ok, there’s an added layer: this creature has emotions. Not sure how it will shake out, but an interesting wrinkle nonetheless
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I love the old cave drawings of a creature with a MASSIVE penis, drawn just like a Mayan arrow
– also, looks like it could’ve been drawn in sidewalk chalk
This raping until chests burst thing is bad news
– It may seem unreasonable to defend Alien over this, but that was a rape metaphor and, as they say in interviews, a reversal of typical gender roles. Here, everyone plays to strict gender roles, with a tough ass cop and pimps laying claim over
Holy shit…the creature rips a baby from a lady’s stomach, then the cops use the baby as shooting practice. fucking a
Lance installed some kind of harpoon to his HoverRound
Ok, I was waiting for some kind of nasty hand to hand combat
– bad cop takes circular saw to the creature’s chest
– Pretty enjoyable gore, if that’s the right thing to say at the moment
************Again, there was a lot going on in this movie, and although it related logistically, it never related emotionally. Things never resonated — a lot of lurid shit happened to a lot of people, but in the end, I was left with little more than the bad taste of a creature that rapes women to death.
Shaun dies at the end, and for some reason the sexy librarian is there. Aight