Schlock du Jour: The Vicious Sweet (1997)

directed by Ron Bonk
runtime: 91 mins

The year is 1997. The Spice girls are ruling the airwaves. The SPACE JAM soundtrack is monumental. My parents just split up. I spent the bulk of the year as a naïve 9 year old in my Go Eat Worms hat, looking at dirty magazines with my cousin under the neighbor’s porch. My neighbor was an older blonde kid with a perpetually dirty face named Marky. His house was also dirty, inside and out, and his mother and older sisters were loud, mean, and ugly. We almost never went into his house because you got dizzy as soon as you entered from the bouquet of mildew and must. I also got the impression that a sinister entity took residence in the basement. THE VICIOUS SWEET is something I could picture playing on Marky’s TV.

What the hell am I watching?

Tyler is a scream queen. She’s more of a Linnea Quigley than a Jamie Lee Curtis. She is also kind of a pain in the ass to everyone around her. Her agent is sick of her shit, she argues with her recent film’s director, and rejects her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. She’s a black belt in disappointing. Her tits have been on screen, however, so you know Tyler has a few fans.

Le Queen of the screams.

Tyler gets kidnapped and handcuffed to a bed in someone’s basement. This someone identifies themself as simply “Grimaldi,” which we later find out is an alias taken from the name of a swashbuckling pirate from a porno Tyler starred in early in her career. From beneath assorted masks, Grimaldi returns to Tyler each day, calmly and sweetly asking her about her life, and claiming that he wants to restore her innocence, and that he will never harm her. Defiant Tyler gives pushback every step of the way. Assuming Grimaldi just wants to live out his perverted stalker fantasies, she tells him to just fuck her and let her go. She claims she doesn’t have much money, but she can get some together if that’s what he’s after. Or perhaps he wants to make his own porno starring Tyler Phenix? No. Grimaldi assures her she is missing the point. I dunno, Grimaldi, maybe if you weren’t wearing a clown or an alien mask she might be inclined to listen to you.

In one scene she escapes just to end up in scenes of her own movies. Aw, just a dream. It’s like a big middle finger to any hope she might have deep down.

Eff you, hope!

Still she taunts Grimaldi until he finally leaves. Claiming to have failed, unable to save her and make her fall in love with him, he leaves her there to confront her demons in starved and dehydrated hallucinations.

Literal physical demons.

Aside from a few sloppy cuts toward the beginning, the execution of THE VICIOUS SWEET is impressive. It may be a SOV feature, but there is a lot of of emphasis on lighting and interesting camera angles, and the effects all look great. The story and look of the movie really found some symbiosis with the SOV format, each complimenting the other to create a finished product that feels plucked from another dimension where there was never any such thing as The Spice Girls or SPACE JAM. Sorry, Seal. There will be no kiss from any rose in this one.

So tell me whatcha want whatcha really really want.

Actress Sasha Graham knocks it out of the park as Tyler. The cynicism and scathing sarcasm comes off as natural, and her lewdness and crudeness are played with aplomb. She makes us believe she is more than just a female victim in a horror flick. She is a whole character with a tangible past. THE VICIOUS SWEET has some of the better writing I’ve ever witnessed in a SOV feature, and Sasha Graham makes Ron Bonk’s movie come alive.

So, even though I said I could see this playing at Marky’s house, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And besides, perhaps Marky, too, was from another dimension.

-Elliot


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