Monday, October 27, 2008


RABID GRANNIES, a 1988 Belgian production from director Emmanuel Kervyn, is a gore film that takes out all the gore. Picked up for domestic distribution by Troma--who included the truncated splatter in a separate reel, which isn't quite as fun when taken out of context--it's more about demonic possession rather than zombies, but like Lamberto Bava's DEMONS films, which it frequently echoes, it hews very close to the established zombie formula.

A pair of kind elderly women host a birthday party, in which all of their greedy, rude, and self-absorbed relatives are invited. When the ladies are infected by a demonic presence--as part of a present from their Satan-worshipping nephew Christopher--they transform into rampaging monsters equipped with Krueger-esque claws, slaughtering their way through their ungrateful family.

The fun of a movie like RABID GRANNIES is the lowbrow thrill of non-stop grue, broad slapstick humor, and maybe a little skin. By removing all the gore (which also ruins the impact of a rather ballsy scene involving a dismembered child) it also removes its reason for being, leaving behind a film that isn't very enjoyable without it. The little mayhem that remains is often interrupted by long, pointless stretches of conversation, and the humor that could've tied these scenes together isn't nearly as funny as it should be.

The cast is comprised of such ugly, amoral people that there's no one to root for, and their comeuppances are so restrained that we can't even revel when they're mowed down. Bereft of creativity, RABID GRANNIES coasts on its premise without the energy or excitement that's crucial to a good splatter film.

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