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DEAD BOYZ CANT FLY

Those in the mood for gratuitous violence will be amply rewarded by this early-nineties over-the-topper, which has been compared to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.  The premise?  Maniacs loose in a high-rise!  The verdict?  Silly, overwrought, and, for exploitation mavens, totally irresistible. 

The Package 
     If and when anyone ever gets around to compiling a critical study of straight-to-video exploitation cinema, 1992’s DEAD BOYZ CANT FLY (sic) will doubtless be a stand-out.  It’s far from a neglected masterpiece, but is attention-getting with all its shooting, stabbing, dental torture (way more unpleasant than MARATHON MAN), makeshift hang rope, live wires used to jump-start a stopped heart, etc. 
     Naturally, the movie’s makers and distributors were careful to coat the proceedings in a bogus veil of social responsibility.  The VCI video cover laughably dubs it “a damning indictment of today’s tidal wave of violent crime” (while simultaneously touting the presence of Penthouse Pet of the year Sheila Kennedy) and a pre-end credits blurb states: “This year, in America, more than 24,000 people will be murdered.  Stand and be counted.  Help make the killing stop.”  There are many American movies that could conceivably help to stop the “tidal wave” of violence in urban America, but I don’t believe DEAD BOYZ CANT FLY is among them!

The Story
     Three psychotic white guys, led by the deranged cross-dresser goose, form a gang of sorts, causing isolated acts of mayhem throughout NYC and leaving their mark, a Z, at the crime scenes.  When one of the three is made fun of by a guy and his ‘ho at an employment agency located in a high rise, the scumbag takes his revenge: he rapes and stabs the ‘ho in her apartment building elevator and then tells Goose they should shake down the offending high rise.  Goose and his minions show up at the place the next day and promptly turn it into a slaughterhouse.
     First they crash an upper-floor dentist’s office, shooting one employee, humiliating the pretty secretary and torturing the head dentist with his own drill and forceps.  Next the psychos head for a nearby doctor’s office where they give an attractive patient an unwanted gynecological exam before beating her to death.  A Vietnam Vet janitor is lurking nearby, who is severely battered and left for dead by Goose.
     The deadly trio ends up in a nondescript office with a dozen or so employees, nearly all of whom are killed in various gruesome ways, including a suicidal office worker who gets hung from the rafters.  But that ‘Nam Vet janitor is still lurking about, being down but far from out.     

The Direction 
     It takes this film a while to hit its stride, but once it does (i.e. once the mayhem gets underway!) it becomes a surprisingly assured exercise in gory excess that grows wilder as it advances--an early rape/murder in an elevator is actually one of the film’s quieter moments!  Credit must go to screenwriter Anne Wolff, who keeps the brutality steadily escalating in imaginative, consistently unpredictable and always unflinching fashion.  Not that any of the nastiness, copious though it is, is ever very disturbing, as director Howard Franklin (actually Cecil Howard, a longtime exploitation movie vet) gives the proceedings an appropriately campy, self-aware veneer characterized by uniformly overwrought performances and wide-angle lenses (along with occasional show-offy visual flourishes, such as a slow zoom back from a NYC cityscape seen through a window).  These tendencies are distracting in the introductory scenes, but work smashingly once the blood begins to flow.
     As might be expected, the gore effects are cut-rate at best (the moviemakers evidently saved their money for a climactic throat-slashing, as it’s the most elaborate effect in the film) and the script sometimes falters.  A subplot involving a detective duo is plain superfluous, especially considering the roles are played by two of the worst actors you‘ll ever see!  The graveyard-set happy ending is likewise unnecessary, as the preceding scene, involving a shocking accident and an unforgettable screaming mouth close-up, would have made for a far more memorable fade out.
     Overall DEAD BOYZ CANT FLY will be viewed as, variously, corrupt and irresponsible, tacky and unpolished, totally out of its mind or just good blood-thirsty fun.  I choose all of the above! 


Vital Statistics 

DEAD BOYZ CANT FLY
Stonecastle Films, Ltd./Command Cinema Corp. 

Director: “Howard Winters” (Cecil Howard)
Producer: “Howard Winters” (Cecil Howard)
Screenplay: Anne Wolff
Cinematography: Feliks Parnell
Editing: Dow McKeever, Richard Dama, John Donaldson
Cast: David John, Brad Friedman, Delia Sheppard, Ruth Collins, Jason Stein, Daniel J. Johnston, Daniel Maher, Mark McCulley, Sheila Kennedy, Judith Cummings, Curt Schwoebel, Jeanne Marie Beckman, Jacqueline Price, Casey Howard
 


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