Featured Events: NYC Premiere of Glenn Danzig's VEROTIKA

On October 18, 2019, 300 lucky Danzig fans from around the globe gathered to watch Glenn Danzig’s New York City premiere of Verotika in Times Square.

Verotika, has been making its round in a 1970s-style roadshow limited theatrical run, with the filmmakers and some of the cast traveling with it. It first appeared at the Chicago genre film fest, CINEMAPOCOLYPSE, then in LA, San Francisco, and then at the STIGES film festival in Spain before coming to New York City. I had a ticket to see the Original Misfits play Madison Square Garden for the next evening, so I had to go see this movie. Tickets went on sale at midnight September 26th, and sold out within hours. I am one of the lucky ones! There were a lot of people looking for tickets, and sadly, I heard a few people even got scammed when trying to buy them second hand.
Shortly before the movie started, Glenn Danzig came out to introduce what we were about to see. He thanked us all for being there and explained how when he had wrote theg comics, he had always hoped they’d make it to the big screen one day. Verotika, based on characters created by GD for his own comic book company, Verotik, is a horror anthology film in the vein of such genre classics as “Trilogy of Terror”, and “Black Sabbath”. He warned us that we were “about to see some crazy-ass shit” and he invited us to “sit back and get ready to have your mind blown”. He gave the crowd one more double devil-horns salute and walked out of the theatre. The lights lowered and the movie began…

Separated by segments hosted by Verotik character, Morella, Verotika is comprised of three segments: “The Albino Spider of Dajette”, “Change of Face”, and “Druikja Countessa of Blood”. All three involve Danzig’s three favorite things: boobs, blood, and violence. The film is set to a moody and intense score done by none other than Glenn Danzig, and a very cool rock soundtrack with songs by other bands chosen by him.
In “Dajette” a young lady with eyeballs for nipples can’t hold an intimate relationship with a man. Hurt from her last rejection, enchanted tears fall from her breasts transforming an albino spider into a 7 foot tall anamorphic spider who murders as Dajette falls sleeps.
As Glenn explained later in the evening at the Q & A, he had used the actual comic books as storyboards, and they painstakingly tried to create each and every panel, from composition to exact color matches. What this leaves the audience with are dramatic camera angles, slowly zoomed in closeups, and lushly saturated colors. Dajette is very neo-noir in style, with high contrast and use of shadows. Even the tale itself is influenced by Film Noir, with the spider as sort of a homme fatale. Absurd and low-budget, albeit hauntingly and weirdly romantic, Dajette is poetic, despite the labored French accents of some of the actors and light plot. The scene where Dajette goes into a porno theatre is especially poignant. In this scene, Dajette (played by Ashley Wisdom) seems so lonely- she’s so longing for intimacy that she likely has never experienced and never will. And then, of course, the only guys in the theatre are predatory creeps who are trying to grope her. She gets out of there in time, thankfully.

The second segment, “Change of Face” is a homage Glenn Danzig’s love of Giallo. The story follows Mystery Girl, an erotic dancer who has a badly burned face, so she murders pretty girls by cutting their faces off. She adds them to her dead skin mask collection. She puts one on, along with a cool black leather jacket, and goes to collect more in the night. Again, shot like a comic book, there are many close ups and drawn out scenes. These scenes don’t tend to draw a lot suspense, like some might use these types of scenes to do, but they do allow the audience to absorb the scene, like one would do when looking at a comic; you can sit there with the panel and really look at the colors and shapes and enjoy the aesthetic. The detectives in this story were a fan favorite, they had some funny dialogue and played the tough cop trope to the hilt.

Especially moody are the scenes where Mystery Girl (played by Rachel Alig) is in her creepy lair at her macabre vanity (possessing a macabre vanity within), lit by only candlelight, among her dead skin mask collection on the wall, talking to them like they are her pets. These were some of my favorite parts of the movie.

The third and final segment, is Danzig’s version of a Elizabeth Bathory inspired Contessa who baths in and drinks the blood of virgins, “Druikja Contessa of Blood”. The style of this segment is the most different of the three, some of it shot outside in broad daylight, not employing the shadowy and high contrast look of the previous two. “Druikja Contessa of Blood” features montages showing a day in the life of the Contessa as she procures her victims carefully, has them prepared, baths and drinks, and relates to a wolf in the woods as she feeds him raw human flesh. This segment was focused around an amazing set piece- a skeletal-looking blood bath where the Contessa’s victims are set to bleed out. The character Sheska (played by Natalia Borowsky), the Contessa’s handmaiden, who voyeuristically shows such delight in Contessa’s murders and at the sight of blood stole the show. She represents the audience- the horror fan, and her character is such a great touch. I couldn’t help but grin when she is on screen and think “Heh. That’s me”.
Visually, this segment is striking and reminiscent of Renaissance-style art. One scene in particular where the Contessa removes and eats a young woman’s heart, alludes to Michelangelo’s Pieta. It is certainly a “feast for the eyes”.

Was Verotika obviously low-budget? Yes. Were there some mistakes made? Yes. Was the acting amateur? Somewhat. Is there an element of what Susan Sontag refers to as “high camp”? Perhaps. This doesn’t take away from the passion that went into the writing and directing of this debut film, and the showing of artistic integrity Glenn Danzig has. Glenn Danzig grew up watching and loving Noir, Giallo, and European Horror films, and always hoped to translate his comic books stories to the those movie genre-styles on the big screen- and in this reviewer’s opinion, he completely succeeds at that.
After the movie was over, Glenn and the co-stars of “Dajette” came out and participated in a short Q & A, where the actors talked a little bit about their makeup transformations, into albino spider monster-man, and eyeball nipples. In the interview, Danzig mentioned that his next movie, a Vampire Spaghetti Western, is his homage to the films of Sergio Leone, and will be much “grittier” than Verotika. Color my boobs BLOOD RED with anticipation! This filmmaking endeavor for Glenn Danzig shows heaps of potential.

Glenn was nice enough to hang out after the Q & A and pretty much personally greeted each and every person there, signed anything asked of him (except bootlegs!!! You should know this, people!!!), and took selfies. He was charming, and making jokes with everyone like old friends. He seemed so genuinely appreciative of the fans who showed up to support him. The movie should be available soon VOD and a Blu-ray from Diabolik DVD is slated for a late February release. I cannot wait to watch this movie again.

-Mara Powell