25th Oct2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Spare Parts’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Julian Richings, Michelle Argyris, Emily Alatalo, Jason Rouse, Kiriana Stanton, Chelsea Muirhead, Ryan Allen, Kathryn Kohut | Written by David Murdoch, Svet Rouskov | Directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt

In a godforsaken bar in the middle of nowhere – an all-girl punk band, Ms. 45, rip the stage apart with their anarchy spirit. Their performance impresses an enthusiastic fan who lures the girls into a trap, sedates them, and starts… customizing them. The four wake up with an axe, drill or chainsaw attached to one arm and are forced to fight gladiator-style, in an arena-style auto-wrecking yard for the amusement of the Emperor and his sadistic townsfolk. The women must now truly band together and use all of their talents if they’re going to get out alive.

There’s been something of a surge in female-led “cult” genre fare – mainly emanating from down under, films like Monstro Del Mar, Murder Drome, Fight Like a Girl (aka Parts Unknown); however now comes Spare Parts… from Canada. Which in 2015 gave us Turbo Kid, a post-apocalyptic horror-come action adventure that, it seems, inspired this slice of gloriously over the top genre fare.

With a heavy slice of body modification horror, Spare Parts feel equally inspired by the work of special effects artist turned director Yoshihiro Nishimura – a man who work includes Meatball Machine, Mutant Girl Squad and Tokyo Gore Police. For its’ those films which Andrew Thomas Hunt’s movie shares it’s madcap nature – revelling in bizarre characters, over the top violence and gore. Spare Parts is also very much akin to those creepy “small town America” horrors where, should strangers dare enter the confines of said small town, they become entangled in strange machinations of the local community; and oftentimes in genre fare end up dead… That is true here too. But of course in this case it’s a small town that holds death match tournaments a la Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Gladiator!

Yes Spare Parts has an insane concept and some even crazier visuals – hands replaced by swords and chainsaws, even an axe hand that also shoots rivets – but for all that the story isn’t that crazy. In fact the story has an underlying element of social commentary. Our four leads, as a band and as the participants in gladiatorial combat, are seen mainly as objects – objects of adoration as a band and little more than objects to play with in the sick twisted minds of those who run the death matches. But these woman are more than that. Yes, they have internal conflicts, with themselves and each other, conflict that – thankfully – is NOT their downfall, they overcome their issues to fight back against their captors. It’s very much a women versus men story.

The males dominate the scrap yard where the women are held and made to fight but that doesn’t mean the women are subservient. Their battle for supremacy over their captors feeling very much like a reflection of the struggles of feminism – at first they try to do what they feel to be right to try and get free. But the women eventually have to become as vicious and unkind as the men to even stay alive – not only saying women have to become more like men to get on in life, but also as if pointing out that we, as society, have to fight back. Fight back against our oppressors, here portrayed by Julian Richings’ mad Caesar-like dictator, and take their place to ever even think of making societal change – with a downbeat epilogue that suggests the more things change the more they stay the same…

A brilliant balance between b-movie and political commentary, Spare Parts is much more than it’s “cult movie” tropes would suggest. If you like your genre films with both style and substance this is one for you!

**** 4/5

Spare Parts screened on Friday October 23rd as part of this months Frighfest Digital Edition.


Comments are closed.