DEAD GIRLS - US video cover
2 stars   

directed by: Dennis Devine
starring: Dianna Karanikas, Angela Eads, Kay Schaber, Angela Scaglione, Steven Kyle

(back of video blurb):

"The glitz the glamor of the high stakes music industry provides the backdrop to this tale of four gorgeous driven young rock starlets, known professionally as the "DEAD GIRLS".

Incredibly sexy and talented too, the girls are on the fast track to super stardom, leaving a trail of broken male hearts in their wake.

One of the gimmicks behind their success is the strange preoccupation with death and destruction.

Fictional lyrics become real-life terror, when the "DEAD GIRLS" head to a mountain retreat to work on material for a new album. Here they must deal with another type of fan, one who can only show his love to the group by killing them."

choice dialogue:

"Figure it out, Nancy Drew!"

- the DEAD GIRLS try and work out who's making them, er, dead girls.

slash with panache?

The Dead Girls are a punk-rock all-girl group - 'The Cramps' meet 'The Bangles' - with members like names like Nancy Napalm, Bertha Beruit, Lucy Lethal and Cynthia Slain, who are at the height of their career with their gimmicky shock-rock glamorizing violence and suicide, like Alice Cooper getting it on with Anne Summers.

During a photoshoot the girls' manager tells them they should branchout and do something different, more mainstream. One of the girls, Bertha - real name Gina, agrees and would like to try something different, but the others argue, "You go on stage and strangle yourself with the American flag. We're not going to break out in a chorus of 'Stand by your man' ... We're the Dead Girls, not the Shirelles!". Adding to this, Gina is also finding herself plagued by hallucinations and bad dreams where she sees her sister, Brook, (who has monster 80's poodle hair and a face like a slapped arse) sitting around with a group of doom-rocker friends, listening to the group's music and slitting their wrists, saying, "Life's a dog - a total bummer!". It turns out that Gina's vision is true - her sister really has tried to kill herself, but hasn't succeeded (but six of her friends have).

Gina decides that the group should take a holiday (much against their manager, Arty's, wishes), and plans to take her sister with them for much needed rest and recuperation. However, returning to her home town she finds herself under attack from her sour Aunt and Uncle who have been looking after her sister, who believe that the Dead Girls' music inspired her suicide attempt and don't want her to go. Brooks' nurse and the local priest are similarly anti the idea. Gina, however, finds solace with an old friend, Mike, to whom she confides, "All this suicide and death. It was just a gimmick ... no one was supposed to take it seriously!". But, whilst she's with him she stumbles across a threatening note pinned to a tree: "Rest in peace Gina Vorelli. It should have been you! A fan".

Gina insists that her sister does come with the group - out to the remote holiday cabin where they plan to stay. However, unbeknownst to the girls, the night before they set out Arty is murdered by someone wearing a fedora and a skull mask (he preempts his own demise by bemoaning, "These girls will be the death of me!", just before he gets a nail shot through his forehead).

The group reach the cabin, along with a mustachioed security guard, Gina's grumpy sister and her even grumpier nurse. "This is bitchin'!", trills one of the easily impressed girls, as they pull up, blissfully unaware of their manager's murder. They are greeted by Elmo the handyman, who Gina charmingly quips, "He is retarded ... or something.", to which Elmo drools back, "I've got all your albums - I play them over and over!".

They attempt to settle in, with the usual mix of sunbathing and quibbling, unaware that the skull-faced killer is also along for the ride and plans to pay his own sick tribute to the femme fatales of rawk.

Now, the thing that got me about DEAD GIRLS is it features this girl group who, unlike most other rock slashers (I still have trouble shaking the BLOOD TRACKS flashbacks no matter how hard I try), never actually play any instruments. You see one of them posing with a guitar but that's about it. The SPINAL TAP of bad slasher trash this aint. ... Perhaps they should have got 'L7' or 'Babes in Toyland' in to play the group, now that would've been fun!

However, DEAD GIRLS certainly isn't that bad - especially for a subgenre piece of its meagre vintage. One thing it is is cheap, very cheap. The acting is variable to say the least - certainly, most of the central cast are OK, but a few of the supporting thespians (hello, Auntie!) would make Edith Massey look like Dame Judi Dench in comparison. There's also some time wasted with subplots that just don't go anywhere, like Gina's half-assed psychic abilities (she goes slightly boss-eyed and shivery when the killer strikes (but only sometimes)), but it does make up some brownie points with some fairly fun dialogue - one of the girls prepares for impending doom, "Death is nothing to be frightened of - it's a mystery we all must explore!", before quipping to another (for the meantime) survivor, "You stay here and work on your karma.".

Like many slasher flicks DEAD GIRLS only really, truly kicks into gear in its final half hour - what with the girls turning on each other as the bodies keep a falling and the paranoia builds, a few gory murders and a refreshingly downbeat ending help make it, at the very least, a fun way to kill 90 minutes.

BODYCOUNT 16   bodycount!   female:8 / male:8

       1-6) Teens slit their wrists in suicide pact
       7) Male shot in the head with nail gun    
       8) Female strangled with noose
       9) Female drowned   
     10) Male gets screwdriver in back of the neck
     11) Female dismembered with axe   
     12) Male shot dead
     13) Female stabbed and has throat cut
     14) Male beaten to death with twig (!)
     15) Male blown up
     16) Female left for dead