The Taint (2010) – By Cary Conley

Two mad scientists are experimenting with a chemical that they hope will enlarge their manhood and also produce copious amounts of semen. Unfortunately, a spill in the lab allows the highly effective chemical to be introduced into the water system of the local populace. Not yet perfected, the chemical does cause huge penile growth as well as insane semen production, but it also has a nasty side effect: it creates rage in the men who ingest the chemical, turning them into homicidal misogynists with only one thing in mind–to kill any woman that happens to cross their paths. Now that the water is tainted with this nasty chemical, there are misogynists wandering all over the town and surrounding areas.

Enter our two heroes. Phil O’Ginny is a horny, doofus teenager who helps to define the term "clueless." Misandra is a young woman who has reinvented herself. After being attacked by the love of her life who became tainted by the water, she was forced to crush his head and tear his brain out. She has traded in her kitchen apron for survival gear and has only one thing in mind, and that is revenge. She wants to kill as many men as possible. Together this unlikely duo must make their way to safety, all the while defending themselves from the crazed misogynists.

Co-directors Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson have created a horror-comedy that succeeds on multiple levels. On the surface, we have a purely exploitative film. Bolduc’s original story seems to be written so as to throw in as much gore and as many laughs as he can in 75 minutes. And there are plenty of both. The Taint could best be described as a cross between the 1970 cult classic I Drink Your Blood (about a group of hippies who become murderous cannibals after eating rabies-laced meat pies) and 1987’s exercise in extreme bad taste, Street Trash. The violence begins early in the film and continues to mount in ever more outlandish effects. We have plenty of head crushings (my favorite involves a woman attacked by her boyfriend; ever faithful to the end, she screams "I love you!" just as her head explodes in a spray of blood by the slam of a car door), a leg being torn off, guts ripped from bellies, a young woman whose head is sawed in half, and literally dozens of penis explosions as our heroes take aim at the offending members before blowing them off in a hail of deadly accurate fire.

While the gore is extreme and fairly effective, Bolduc and Nelson have seen fit to also make it cartoonish enough that it isn’t stomach-churning; in fact, the extreme gore is part of the joke these filmmakers are letting the viewers in on. Yes, the effects are bloody, but they are intentionally amateurish in an H.G. Lewis kind of way. The explicitness of the violence is meant to be a parody of other graphically violent films. Besides, who can take a movie seriously when dozens of men are running around with huge, rubber dildos hanging out of their zippers?

The jokes and gags in the movie mirror the ultra violence in both explicitness and perversity. Aside from the obvious potty-level humor in multiple exploding penises, there are also jokes that include vomit, feces, and even gang rape. There is also a twisted but hilarious scene involving Phil O’Ginny and his pregnant girlfriend who wants an abortion. Amongst the carnage and chaos going on outside, Phil must find a wire coat hanger to use for the abortion. Placing a condom on the coat hanger, the viewer is treated to a seriously twisted and funny sequence. The humor is base and very dark. Only those viewers with a peculiar sense of humor will enjoy this film, while others may dismiss it as tasteless trash. I, for one, found it quite warped and funny.

But there is also another level to this film. Bolduc, as writer, has crafted a very fine story that manages to spoof everything from films like Kill Bill and Rocky to Darkman, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Saw franchise, and those hilarious natural disaster epics from the seventies. In fact, the opening credit sequence is truly a work of art that recalls numerous 60’s and 70’s environmental disaster films and the warnings they contained. And the concept as a whole–that a chemical can cause the male psyche to erupt into violent misogynism–is truly genius. Bolduc here is making a broad statement about violence towards women in the media, poking fun at it in a most disturbing way. In the commentary track, Bolduc comes across as quite self-effacing, always downplaying the film’s content and his skills as writer/director, but there are just too many things going on for the film to not have been well-planned.

The production as a whole is high-quality. The only weakness is in the acting–these are not professionals, but merely a collection of friends and "hired hands" that Bolduc and Nelson managed to convince to play a part in the film. But in a strange way, the amateurish acting is also part of the charm of the film. It helps the viewer to realize that these filmmakers are poking fun at the genre and the film isn’t to be taken too seriously.

So while The Taint won’t be for everyone and is decidedly adult in content, for viewers who enjoy bad taste cinema at its best (or worst, as the case may be), and who have a (very) warped sense of humor, this film will hit the spot. Not surprisingly, Troma has picked the film up for distribution. For more information, go to www.taintmovie.com or to purchase the DVD, go to www.troma.com/films/the-taint.