The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang (Synapse Films)

The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang (Synapse Films)

pornogangThis morning wasn’t much different than every other morning for me.  I woke up, watched some news while my coffee brewed and waited. After it was ready, I poured a cup, popped in the latest Blu-ray release from Synapse Films and saw my morning rapidly take a turn for the morose.  I knew what was coming to an extent, but still.  If you think you’re prepared to start your day with something like this, think again.  This is Serbia, motherfuckers.

The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang is a melting pot of misery.  Starting out right  the bombings in Serbia (Post-Bosnian War,1998-1999, at the end of Slobodan Milosevic’s reign), the story is that of a young filmmaker named Marko. Marko’s film student aspirations and artistic vision has him brimming with creativity but nowhere to exorcise it.  With no support from family and producers not interested in his horror-inspired ideas, Marko does what many do in desperate times: He takes work as a porn director.  Eventually, however, he manages to piss off the mob when he takes their porn money and uses it to act on his visions.  Marko now needs to get out- and fast- all while still needing money.  He pulls together a group of willing nihilists and together they set out onto the open road as a “porno cabaret” act.  Travelling from village to village, they perform their perverse play, but the money is quite scarce.  They’re barely making ends meet and desperation grows.  Amidst the struggle, Marko meets a film producer who is willing to pay top dollar for them to film the actual murders of willing participants.  Snuff films.  Snuff films shot as a “performance piece” funded by the wealthy and morally bankrupt.  The group accepts the offer and a world of darkness opens up.  Sex, death, corruption, regret, and revenge…all in a day’s work when you’re a porno gang.

thegangRemember in 2010 when A Serbian Film was all the rage?  It took us all by surprise.  I was one of those people.  I drank the Kool-Aid.  Short of a few elitist assholes who claimed it wasn’t “that big of a deal” (yep, hipsters exist in horror), it was a film that got quite a few people’s attention.  More importantly, it brought attention to a region of the world we knew very little about.  With the exception of the Bosnian War and the aforementioned administration who governed this part of the world, most of us were clueless to what went on in Serbia, much less their film industry.  What we discovered was that the war torn people of this country view art as one of their only weapons.  It’s a weapon of expression and it’s used at its highest caliber.  That’s what brings us to THIS movie, The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang. I will be compelled to view this on more than one occasion as it was a genuinely intriguing film.  The end result delivers a heaping dose of misery as the previous Serbian film entry we’re familiar with.  TLADOAPG is more effective because of how it handles its narrative and characters.  There are characters in this film who you can empathize with.  Notice I didn’t say identify.  Honestly, I don’t think as Americans we’ll ever understand those levels of fear that they do.  We’re a fortunate people and this film is a strong, albeit graphic, reminder of that.  The porno gang itself represents a myriad of different factions in society.  There is Marko and Una (a spectacular performance by the stunning Ana Acimovic) who frontier the cabaret.  Marko is the director with a vision.  Una is the struggling actress.  They’re a match made in heaven, if heaven includes rape and death.  They decided to go “all the way to the end together” from day one.  This pact sounds more like an artistic promise to never compromise (and technically is).  However, it becomes something so much bigger than that.  “The end” means unnecessary murder, eventually.  Was that the intention? Not at all, but art and desperation are familiar bedfellows for this pair.  They’re love is powerful and reckless.  Think True Romance but amped up on meth.  I found myself wanting them to succeed.  By succeed, I don’t mean killing spree either.  I mean find their artistic peak…find happiness; to be content.  Unfortunately, there is only one door out of a place like that.  Kudos on a pair of intense performances by Acimovic and the film’s star, Mihajlo Jovanovic.

nakedhippiesThe rest of the gang is used to represent the dregs of society.  There is a junkie couple who have 2 children but can’t kick a nasty heroin habit.  They have a different motivation for joining.  It’s definitely driven by angels/demons living. They want drug money, they want their children to eat, etc.  The rest include performers from the porn industry Marko had befriended.  2 of them are retirees who have left the industry due to being stricken with AIDS.  There’s also a woman who’s weight problems have affected her opportunity to work and a man who’s apparently found no other routes to take and uses his dick to make ends meet.  Another young transvestite joins the merry band (who’s specialty happens to be animal love)along the way as well (and of course, there’s our faithful cameraman).  These characters were very obviously used to represent various facets of humanity.  Though extreme representations, they’re used perfectly.  Regardless of where it may be in the world, they are all examples of “groups” despised by societies.  As an example of their effectiveness, I give you the gay couple suffering of AIDS.  At first, I found them upsetting.  It felt like they were being used as a stereotype in the wrong way, in terms of storytelling.  They were gay men with AIDS who’s sexual encounters were their way of “spreadin’ that there gay disease”.  It felt like the filmmaker was using bigotry. Felt being the operative word.  As the film progresses, you realize the exact opposite.  They’re a representation of societal ignorance.  Victims of a world who has decided they are immoral and not fit for “normalcy”.  Their inclusion into the gang is not only timely, it’s vital.  In lieu of some recent events, their presence was felt quite strongly.  The same can be said for the rest of these characters. I used the other 2 as an example of their place in this story but the overall theme for the gang itself is simple.  Society’s “monsters” will only be called such things for so long.  Eventually, they will act out against what holds them back, whether it’s the religious right, oppressive government, the law, whatever.  This gang’s actions seem less vicious when one considers the means by which they were engaged.  Writer/Director Mladen Djordjevic has created a deeply intense, DARK film that exceeds the boundaries of exploitation while permanently attaching itself to the walls of your psyche.  The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang is further proof that Serbia ain’t nothin’ to mess with.

Synapse Films once again brings the Western world the unseen and it’s done so on a beautiful Blu-ray (the film is also available on DVD, as well) that includes among other things, “Made In Serbia”, a documentary detailing the Serbian adult film industry.  The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang is certainly not recommended for everyone, but if you’re up for a endurance exercise then quit screwing around and challenge yourself- head to www.synapse-films.com and buy the damn thing!!

 


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I'm the founder of this here site and a contributing writer. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the foundation of who I am as a horror lover but sleaze, exploitation, Italian film, and erotica from the golden age are my areas most widely researched. This is done with a great amount of vigor. When not assaulting my mind with film, I'm with my beautiful family or cheering on my beloved Baltimore Orioles.

2 Responses to “The Life And Death Of A Porno Gang (Synapse Films)”

  1. Oh yeah, this film obviously is much better than “A Serbian Film”. Mmm, why? Because it’s fucking trendy to say so. This film have nothing on Serbian Film, it’s a PG version of ASF but you are so wise and sage that you obviously prefer that shitty movie.

  2. Calm down. No one said it was better or worse than ASF at any point during that review. It’s an opinion, that’s all. Same thing you expressed. Don’t be so dramatic. It’s a movie. Of course comparisons will be drawn…they’re from the same country. I’m not sure what “trend” you’re talking about, but I haven’t seen an upward swing in the momentum of folks who are placing TLADOAPG on their awards list. You don’t like it, don’t read it. But there’s no need to be so obnoxious when someone’s opinion is different than yours. It makes you look ridiculous.

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