A New Kind of Exploitation: Here Comes Fauxsploitation

There's an awful lot of kinds of exploitation out there. You got your blaxploitation, your sexploitation, your nazisploitation, your drugsploitation, but sometimes someone comes along and does something entirely new that carves it's own category. Tonight's film is one of those ground breakers that proves that less is indeed still less. That all it takes is a couple of brash young film makers to prove that if you make something out of nothing, well then, the chances are you've still got nothing.

Poison Sweethearts (2008) starring Ashleigh Holeman, Roza Haidet, Sara Rinear, and Laura Robbins. Directed by Andrew & Lewis Campbell.

Poison Sweethearts was a trailer on another DVD that I recently watched, and when I saw it I knew I had to get my hands on this thing. I loved the stylized presentation, and the general setup, and the voice over that kept saying "Poison Sweethearts". Unfortunately, when I did get my hands on it, I was less impressed by the movie as a whole than the trailer.

The movie is a series of vignettes following a series of women that "can't take it anymore". They follow The Biker, The Sister, The Wife, The Swimmer and The Daughter. Each of them is presented between a Doctor talking about the "female enigma" and the mysterious fifth lobe of the brain that causes women to go batshit and kill people. These interludes with the Doctor are probably the most entertaining parts. I was watching this with Miss Directed and Fran Goria and they both learned some things they didn't teach in "health" class.

Some of the stories come off better than others. The Biker is a interesting little tale, but is mostly amusing for the old school riding in traffic footage. The Sister finds a girl who thought no man would ever like her almost get raped by a sex crazed break dancer. The Wife sets up it's premise and resolution so fast that the end becomes apparent almost instantly. With the Swimmer, I have to pick out a specific problem. All the other stories are told in an artsy kind of way or like imitation grind-house style, and the slick Mini-DV look of The Swimmer seemed to juxtapose harshly with the rest of the film. The Daughter is a fine closer, but the style of it hearkens back so much to the first story that you can tell the directors thought about bookending the film, but it just didn't quite work for me.

The real problem with Poison Sweethearts is that it portrays itself as an exploitation film, and it could have been one. However, it was missing the vital element, the exploitation. The scenes all lead up to the point where a sexploitation flick would (i.e. girl should get raped, beaten, put down, etc.). Instead those parts are left out, and we move straight into revenge It's not even implied that the violence happened off screen; it just never happened at all. The beauty of exploitation films is the balance between the sordid aspects and the comeuppance the evil doers receive. In PS, we get none of that. The most exploitative aspect of the film comes in the stock footage lesbian scene that plays over the "Intermission". Yes, because in an hour and ten minute film I needed an intermission.

There were some plus sides to the movie. Some of the camera work was very nice, and some of the scenes like the educational footage are well done. Also the ladies in the lead roles do a fine job and most are quite foxy, although the same on both counts can't be said of the men. I also liked the time out of time feeling; even if it did feel like something I'd seem lots of before. This movie obviously tips it's hat to Tarantino's work, but what they didn't learn from him was what could have saved much of this film. If the stories had interlocked instead of a picaresque daydream and woven into some kind of plot thread, then this could have made a turn for the better as a tough girl movie. Sadly, that didn't happen.

I will still look out for the Campbell brothers and any other features they direct. (For a better offering from them check out The Red Skulls), but I don't feel there's enough here to really recommend viewing it. So unless you want to check out the breaking new trend of fauxsploitation, I recommend you check out this excellent trailer instead.

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