What was intended as a brutal look at the ugly nature of misogyny and the objectification of women was quickly dismissed by many critics as nothing more than a cheap exploitation “torture-porn” flick, with Variety rather bizarrely calling it “adolescent male fantasy”. Does the average adolescent male fantasy really consist of having sex with a corpse’s pus-filled bullet wound?
No, despite its subject Deadgirl is probably one of the least sexy things you will ever see on screen. The plot revolves around two boys who go exploring in an old boarded-up hospital (never a good idea) and find a naked girl, chained up and wrapped in a plastic sheet, who can endure pretty much any kind of abuse and still somehow keep ticking. Instead of going for help, one of the boys decides that zombies don’t have civil rights and turns the girl into a handy sex slave for him and all his pals.
It’s a well-made film that is unafraid of its subject matter and does not look like it was produced for as little money as it was. A compelling story (although it occasionally meanders about where it should be moving forward), unique atmosphere and a message that you can dig in and find quite easily if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.
About a year ago there were rumours floating around that a sequel to Deadgirl would be made, but due to what Haaga describes as a series of “terrible particulars that killed the project”, the film was never and probably will never be made. In a post on his blog, Haaga gives a fairly detailed description of what the sequel would have been.
I always saw the original Deadgirl as a condemnation of misogyny as opposed to being misogynous – the boys were the monsters, not the “monster” of the title. But a lot of people didn’t see it that way. My idea for the sequel was to try and tell a story from the point of view of a female outcast and what would happen if she found the Deadgirl this time … instead of using the Deadgirl for the impetus of her sexual fantasies, what if she used the Deadgirl for her revenge fantasies instead?
I also wanted to put the story back into the “really small rural town” where the first one was supposed to take place (we shot the first movie in Los Angeles and while it looks a lot like “anytown,” it didn’t capture that economic desperation that I was hoping for … desperation that would have added to the boys bizarre and angry choices). What I ended up writing could maybe be described as “Precious meets The Pit with a zombie attack dog.”
Maybe this movie would have sucked. Maybe people would have loved it. Who knows? It wouldn’t have hurt to at least try, but alas it wasn’t to be.”
The revenge premise is perhaps not dissimilar to I Spit On Your Grave, a 1978 film about a female writer who is gang-raped whilst on a retreat and seeks revenge by killing all the men involved in the assault. This was another film accused of being exploitative and misogynistic (the poster sold the film based on the attractiveness of the raped woman’s half-naked bum, which probably didn’t help) but personally I just thought it was a bit rubbish.
Lucky McKee’s recent release The Woman also falls into this strange sub-genre, since it depicts a near-feral woman being chained up by a middle-class lawyer in an attempt to make her more civilised. Did I mention that The Woman was accused of being misogynistic?
Maybe male screenwriters should just give up trying to tackle themes of misogyny in their films, and instead write every female character as a sassy love interest or a tomboyish klutz or any one of the other free-to-use stereotypes floating around and which never seem to draw this kind of fire.
What this comes down to is that you’ll probably never get to see Deadgirl 2, but Trent Haaga has decided to make the first draft of the script available online for any interested parties to read.
Enjoy. Unless you’re a woman, in which case you probably can’t read anyway and you should get back in the bloody kitchen.