Jun 29, 2014
Long before larger hordes of Muslims had invaded the Netherlands and towelheads became an easy, if not politically incorrect, target for criticism, Dutch Auteur Theo van Gogh—a born iconoclast who felt the savage wraith of Allah after he was assassinated and almost beheaded with a butcher knife in November 2004 at the age 47 after some crazed Moroccan Islamist got offended by his short Submission (2004)—directed black-and-white avant-garde absurdist works of the darkly hilarious and seemingly rather morally bankrupt sort. For his debut feature Luger (1982)—a fiercely fucked no-budget film noir of sorts starring the now relatively popular Dutch actor Thom Hoffman—van Gogh told the seriously sardonic story of a suavely dressed ‘fascist’ psychopath who kidnaps the retarded yet reasonably attractive daughter of a miserly millionaire who refuses to pay the ransom, with the director later confessing regarding his objective with the film, “There was no intent or purpose. We wanted just a movie, as politically incorrect as possible. The more sacred cows we killed the better.” Undoubtedly, with his third feature Charley (1986), the debauched Dutchman opted for slaying, cooking, and eating more sacred cows, as it is a sickly sardonic and statically directed cinematic work about a mute Aryan beauty of the decidedly deranged sort and her lesbian girlfriend/partner-in-crime who routinely lures horny and mostly socially defective men into their home, poison them, and fry and eat their body parts. Featuring an eponymous antihero with looks that can kill but who is as quiet as a dead mouse, van Gogh’s film also dares to present the homicidal man-hating lead as an innately infantile molestation victim who was raped by her own father while she was only toddler. While a discernibly unrealistic work that has a bizarre and sometimes semi-surreal atmosphere that is somewhat comparable to the later works of Luis Buñuel, albeit done in a distinctly Dutch fashion, Charley is rather accurate in its depiction of female serial killers because, as history demonstrates, women typically like to kill their victims in a cowardly and passive fashion via poison for oftentimes financial reasons (indeed, one of the top Dutch female serial killers, Maria Swanenburg, who was suspected of killing over 90 people via poison, did it so she could collect her victims’ insurance and/or inheritance money). Unlike Fassbinder’ similarly themed work Bremen Freedom (1972), which depicts 19th century kraut female killer Gesche Gottfried as a misguided proto-feminist of sorts, van Gogh’s Charley portrays its killer in a much more ambiguous, if not somewhat strangely empathetic, light that reminds one why the auteur was no fan of medieval-style Muslim misogyny. Of course, van Gogh's film is not exactly the sort of work that will make a feminist's panties wet either.
When blonde mute beauty Charley Pasja (Marie Kooyman) was only just a toddler, her working-class mechanic father decided to molest her in the shower and ever since then she has continued to have sex with daddy dearest. It seems that, like many molestation victims, Charley has not mentally matured much since the first time when her father first raped her, as she carries around a baby doll as if it is a real baby and likes to play with little boys on swings, among countless other childish things. While Charley is repelled by all other men aside from her father, she is in a hot and heavy lesbian relationship with her criminal accomplice/roommate Berie Werie (Rosita Steenbeek), who sometimes watches her girlfriend have sex with her dad in the shower (indeed, for whatever reason, Charley's father only likes molesting her in the same place where he once took her virginity). Despite looking completely different (Charley has fair-skin and platinum blonde hair and buxom brunette Berie almost looks Latin), people oftentimes confuse the two Sapphic sisters for biological sisters, as no one seems to suspect they a lesbian lunatics who seem to have taken Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto (1967) quite literally. As for their modus operandi, the two lure men to their home, Berie has sex with them and poisons them, and then they both subsequently drop their victims’ corpses on train tracks so as to make the men's deaths look like suicides. While disposing of their victims, Berie likes to make goofy jokes like, “You know what they found in Regan’s belly?...Rock Hudson’s watch!” One day, the girls encounter a majorly misogynistic Taxi Driver who calls them “grumpy bitches” and who self-righteously declares, “women are worthless,” so needless to say, they kill him by giving him poisoned caviar, but not before Berie bumps his fuzz. A rather passive and seemingly introverted young lady, Charley likes to listen in on the men’s deaths via a downstairs baby monitor while Berie sexually defiles their corpses in their bedroom. The girls live in a small home owned by Charley’s comic publisher uncle and he has no clue that they have turned his place into the Dutch equivalent of the quaint home from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although Charley likes to play with her prepubescent nephew Max, she becomes rather infuriated when the little lad pushes pins through her precious baby doll’s eyes. Despite the fact they are both coldblooded killers, Charley and Berie act like a bunch of feminist hypocrites and tell Max’s father that he is a sadist that is in need of some teaching. Unfortunately, it seems the boy is far too young for them to kill.
One day, the two girls go to a bar and listen to the patently perverted scatological poetry of a seemingly demented dude named ‘Brother Gabler’ who swoons Charley with the following poop-preoccupied poem: “What abstinence forbids, as I saw my shit in the loo…I thought: no runny shit this time, but a healthy turd decorating the bowl. Fat and streaming in the poet…can I not feel my dick groping up my groin? That brown boy turns me on. My heart thumps as saliva I spawn. I think I’ll wank above the turd…because my sphincter when I cum makes itself heard. I think I’ll flush. Yes, an old fashioned flush. I lost my heart. A modern jerk is not better than a fart.” In fact, Charley loves the poem so much that it causes her to smile for the first time in the entire film, though Berie is less than impressed and berates her girlfriend for approving of such frivolous filth. Of course, Berie does not mind boning and killing Gabler. When a group of Gabler’s mindless disciples arrive at the girls’ flat looking for their pseudo-Rimbaudian messiah, Charley decides to poison every single one of them. With their relationship falling apart, Berie eventually ends up dead after being bedridden for a while and Charley somehow learns how to talk in the process, as if her lesbo lover had previously stolen her voice (indeed, Berie was certainly the dominant of the two lethal lipstick lesbos). When Charley is asked by the police to come to a mental hospital to meet a man named Larive who she and Berie stole money from a couple days before, she naturally poisons the gent. While at the hospital, Charley is introduced to an ambiguously gay fascist police inspector named Beerekamp (Michiel Berkel) who seems suspicious of the Sapphic psychopathic killer. While her beloved Berie is dead, that does not stop Charley for sleeping with her corpse and wheeling it around in a wheelchair. In the end, Beerekamp and his buffoonish cop comrades discover that Charley is a serial killer after finding countless corpses in her humble abode. After concluding with the following epilogue: “Inspector Beerekamp was promoted for heroism. He’s Head of the narcotics brigade. Charley was given life. She’s in therapy with her fauther and makes progress every day,” a grotesque drawing by Dutch cartoonist Eric Schreurs appears featuring an exaggerated-looking demonic female putting a dismembered dick in her large negro-like mouth.
Somewhat like a sordid celluloid marriage between the absurdism of Herbert Achternbusch, the female trouble of John Waters, and the unhinged grotesquery of Christoph Schlingensief as directed by the more comically-inclined son of Frans Zwartjes, Charley is an indisputably original and belligerently daring work that somehow even manages to make incestuous father-daughter pedophilia seem funny. Of course, not a single one of the characters in the film is realistically portrayed, as the film feels like what might if someone tried to translate a sardonic libertine comic into cinematic form. Indeed, Charley is almost terroristically tongue-in-cheek, as if van Gogh made the film solely to see how much he could get away with artistically, so it quite easy to see why some humorless camel jockey would get so enraged by his work that he would violently slaughter the filmmaker. As is especially apparent during the hysterical conclusion, a good part of van Gogh’s film was improvised. Indeed, apparently the director’s publisher van Wulften (who had just published a book of the director's poetry featuring illustrations by Dutch cartoonist Eric Schreurs) not only gave him funding for the film, but also the use of his house, workshop, employees, and even children (during the first couple seconds of the film, a naked toddler wearing a party hat appears). While not exactly a masterpiece, Charley is a truly underground comedy in the spirit of early Robert John Downey, Sr. flicks like Chafed Elbows (1966) and Putney Swope (1969), albeit more subversive and iconoclastic. Indeed, as far as I know, van Gogh's film is the greatest Sapphic cannibal serial killer flick ever made.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:01 PM
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