The Disco Exorcist's pastiche style is more in keeping with 80s straight-to-VHS than 70s porn. Adding scratch and dust effects does NOT magically give a film the aesthetic of its period. It just means you saw “Grindhouse” and didn’t get it. If The Disco Exorcist conjures up any retro feel, it’s as a sub-par 90s Troma wannabe of sub-par 80s direct to video films. And even then it fails: at least Lloyd Kaufmann has an eye for the ladies.
Rex Romanski (Michael Reed) owns the dance floor and the sack. His dancing prowess is legendary (so they keep saying- Reed’s own dancing moves fail to covey that) and his lovemaking is the kind where women openly discuss their ride.
A typical “pump and dump” (one night stand) with Rita Marie (Sarah Nicklin) leaves her wanton and vengeful- attributes you don’t want to see in a priestess of the black arts. Rita’s murderous warpath must be stopped and Rex must become The Disco Exorcist.
When my editor offered me The Disco Exorcist, I was all there. A 70s flavoured send-up of horror films and skin flicks sounded like just the thing for me. I grew up Catholic in that decade so I volunteered for the job with eager anticipation. As the disc spun in my player, however, I began to curse the day I responded so enthusiastically to my boss. Just a few minutes into the film, I found myself confronted with my top-tiered pet peeve: feeling like I’m watching amateur porn. A few seconds later, I was confronted with my second pet peeve: parody from people with no familiarity whatsoever with the subject.
Amateur porn is distinguished by the following attribute: The purpose of performance as entertainment for the audience’s sake gets usurped by the performers’ need to exhibit themselves. You get a sense they want to be seen more than you want to see them – and that is not good when the performers in question have bodies which should only be examined by health professionals.
But as unappetizing as the exploitation part of the film is, it’s really the disco part which is intolerably flat in it’s execution. It lacks disco! The disco club scenes feels more like a community hall dance night and the monotonous ambient synth soundtrack suggesting disco is more reminesecent of the menu page of an 8-bit video game.
It’s one thing to invoke disco culture to get a cheap retro laugh but there should be something in your piece to make that reading stick. If you’re going to portray something as cheap, cheesy and laughable, your film making should rise above the pieces you are parodying. In the end The Disco Exorcist is just cheesier, cheaper and laughable to the point of no longer being funny.- or even remotely entertaining.
It’ll make you nostalgic all right- nostalgic for a time when people who poked fun at things also conveyed they knew something about what they were parodying in the first place.