10th Jul2018

‘Spidarlings’ Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Sophia Disgrace, Rahel Kapsaski, Chris Repps, Lee Mark Jones, Rusty Goffe, Jeff Kristian, Lloyd Kaufman, Soozi Chameleone, Toshio Maeda, Gabriella Kapsaski, Kjell De Kerpel, Tiffaney Wells, Lynn Ruth Miller | Written and Directed by Salem Kapsaski


After being refused benefits and under constant harassment by the landlord (Chris Repps) for not paying any rent for two years, it is a constant struggle for poverty-stricken lovers Eden (Sophia Disgrace) and Matilda (Rahel Kapsaski). As the product of a modern Britain, the only income coming in is what Matilda earns workingat a sleazy burlesque nightclub called ‘Juicy Girls’. But what money she makes barely puts food on the table, let alone pay the bills or get the things which they really want!

Times look brighter when Matilda manages to get her hands on some extra money from a client, but rather than pay the debts owed they decide to spend the money on a pet tarantula called Rainer. Their luck however doesn’t last long however, the landlord is at the door threatening eviction, a serial killer targeting the women at Juicy Girls, and Rainer has escaped. Suddenly they realise that the real trouble is about starts!

Spidarlings is a chaotic punk rock, body horror, LGBT musical, with a rebellious energy which refuses to be categorised into a single genre. Writer-director Salem Kapsaski delivers an experimental and eclectic mashup of creativity on a zero budget, which is likely to divide audiences with a decisive love or hate reaction. The film opens with a brightly colourful anarchic animated sequence with a catchy punk rock theme, which gives you some idea what you can expect from the start. This is not your typical musical and the fact it has been picked up by the independent studio Troma for distribution indicates the targeted audience which the film is likely to appeal.

The film is driven as much by the colourful visual style, as it is the characters which work perfectly with the soundtrack to generate an ebullient energy. The music is written and composed by Jeff Kristian incorporates the rebellious style of the film, with the lyrics not only detailing the plot, but also incorporate an underlining social message in the process. Unconfined to any specific rules Jeff combines a combination of styles including electro pop, rock, punk and drag queen cabaret numbers, to create a unique and original musical soundtrack.

It would be fair to say that not all of the cast are natural singers, so they may not deliver the most polished performance, but they put so much effort into the songs they definitely make it entertaining. Jeff Christian looks at home with his performance as The Diva on stage, with songs such as the clubs title song ‘Juicy Girls’, whilst Chris Repps delivers a more spoken style as the Landlord with his song ‘A Man of My Word’. My favourite song however is brilliantly clever capitalism song ‘Kerching!’ Which Sophia Disgrace and Rahel Kapsaski perform with a fun satirical delivery in a convenience store.

You can see some of director Salem Kapsaski influences in Spidarlings which he acknowledges in the films creativity and as a reverence, several film posters and pictures displayed around the flat. Influences include the early trash film of John Waters, the visual colourful stylings of Dario Argento and the surreal escapism of David Finch to name a few.

Spidarlings has a chaotic feel at times because there are so many ideas thrown in with the direction of the film constantly changing. However, as surreal the ideas may become, it manages to remain grounded thanks to the relationship between the two female leads. Sophie Disgrace and Rahel Kapsaski are both engaging on the screen and despite their very different personalities have a natural chemistry. Their quirky personalities and comical exchanges makes them fun to watch, but in keeping with the rest of the film it is the visual look which often makes them so memorable. Outfits, hair and peacock style eyelashes, are combined to form a significant part of their eccentric personalities.

Sophie Disgrace stands out as the more confident of the two as Eden and has a natural screen presence throughout the film. Her blunt deadpan delivery creating a natural comical timing, which is well suited to her characters seemingly careless facade. One of my favourite scenes from however is when Eden disguises herself as a man to gain access into the ‘Juicy Girls’ nightclub so she can spy on Matilda. Her suave persona as she makes her way around the club is brilliantly funny to watch, especially once Matilda realises who she is.

Rahel Kapsaski as Matilda has more of an innocent naivety to her character and has a childish temperament to match. Working at the ‘Juicy Girls’ nightclub as paid company to the customers who attend, there does seem to be a vulnerability to her character which does make you sympathise with her at times. With that being said she is no push over and does not deal with hostilities lightly, as we see on several occasions in the toilets Matilda proves that she a woman who you want to mess with.

The are several strange characters who appear throughout the film, which includes some surprising cameos. Lloyd kaufman gives another educational cameo as Mr. Banner, whilst Hentai artist Toshio Maeda is involved in one of the films many bizarre fantasy sequences with his character aptly titled character Tentacle Master.

The lack of budget does show at times, especially in some of the darker scenes, but what the film lacked in funds it more than makes up in creativity. A great example is some of the animated sequences which are used to convey some of the more challenging moments to film, which includes a surreal spider sequences with Eden. Even if they had the money to do the effects practically, I don’t think they could have made this scene any more effective.

There is nothing quite like Spidarlings which proves to be a unique and ambitious feature debut for Salem Kapsaski. Not short of ideas you are never really sure what is going to happen, which makes it such an amazing experience to watch. As a low budget tongue and cheek horror musical it will obviously not appeal to everyone, but with the originality of Spidarlings it destined to gain a cult following.

Spidarlings is out on Blu-ray now.


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