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“BLOODY KNUCKLES” (BUFF Movie Review)

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BLOODY KNUCKLES not only aspires to the heights of such classic severed-hand gorefests as EVIL DEAD II and the underappreciated IDLE HANDS, it also intends a message about the wages of censorship. And then the whole thing gets stolen by a bondage-gear-clad superhero named Homo Dynamous.

This five-finger exercise in fun frights (which has played festivals including Montreal’s Fantasia and makes its New England premiere tomorrow at the Boston Underground Film Festival) is the feature debut of writer/director Matt O, a.k.a. Matt O’Mahoney, who has won notice for shorts like ELECTRIC FENCE and ADJUST TRACKING. Having an hour and a half to play with for the first time, he crams that running time full of every politically incorrect gag he can think of, plus copious amounts of outrageous gore, ensuring a raucous good time for like-minded audiences.

The movie doesn’t care who it offends, and neither does Travis (Adam Boys), a young artist who has won some success with his super-raunchy underground comic VULGARIAN INVASIONS. In between sacred cows, Travis makes the ill-advised decision to target local businessman/Chinatown gang boss Leonard Fong (Kasey Mazak), who doesn’t take kindly to the attention. He and his Golden Dragons accost Travis one night and saw off his drawing hand, leaving him without a means to express himself and sending him into a drunken funk. Through circumstances I really don’t want to give away here, the hand becomes sentient and mobile and sets out to seek revenge for Travis’ mutilation, while also harassing him and giving him the kick (or poke) in the ass he needs to take charge of his life.

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Woven through the resulting carnage and anything-goes humor is a recurring cry against the repression of creativity, including a subplot involving a censorship-terrorist group (occasioning an apt cameo by Cinema Sewer’s Robin Bougie). Some of this is a little on-the-nose, but never enough to spoil the fun, as the film itself is essentially an 85-minute statement against any sort of cinematic boundaries. And by having an essentially positive message behind it, along with a likable hero in Travis, BLOODY KNUCKLES avoids the mean-spiritedness that can result when a movie leaves nothing and no one spared. Everything conceivable is the butt of the humor here, from Nazism to, well, butts, yet it’s easy to get caught up in the fun O’Mahoney and his cohorts are clearly having.

Providing an additional human element in the midst of the insanity are Ralphie (Ken Tsui), Travis’ half-brother, best friend and roommate, and Amy (Gabrielle Giraud), a journalist who’s also on Fong’s case and might just become a romantic interest for our hero. On the other side of the reality coin is the aforementioned Homo Dynamous (Dwayne Bryshun), who springs to musclebound life from the pages of VULGARIAN INVASIONS to fight for truth, justice and the right to wear skimpy leather duds, and has some of BLOODY KNUCKLES’ most screamingly funny moments. A memorable avenger who warrants his own screen vehicle, he embodies the generosity of spirit the movie expresses even as it is splattering some of its other characters all over the sets and/or violating their nether regions.

Also worth noting is the hand itself, nimbly performed by Krista Magnusson with the help of the Image Engine special FX team. Whether snarkily communicating with Travis via a type-to-speech computer program or obscenely defacing the artificial appendage that has replaced it, the severed extremity becomes a full-fledged character with a personality of its own—indeed, more so than many low-budget horror villains who have their whole bodies, limbs and faces to work with. It’s a key ingredient in the cheerfully anarchic brew that earns BLOODY KNUCKLES the sound of two hands clapping.

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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