Salem Kapsaski delivers a real Troma treat in an outrageous, punk/rock feminist, exploitation musical that makes a clever commentary on the British welfare state. Spidarlings is the story of lesbian lovers Eden (Sophia Disgrace) and Matilda (Rahel Kapsaski), two casualties of ‘Broken Britain, struggling to make ends meet.
Matilda moonlights at the local, grotty night club, ‘Juicy Girls’ by night and spends her days along with Eden avoiding their oppressive landlord whom they owe two years of rent to! Musical mayhem ensues with plenty of glitz and grime galore as we experience the ladies journey which becomes even more bizarre following the arrival of Eden’s pet spider, Rainer. Not only that, Spidarlings introduces a collection of crazy characters that makes this genre-blending cinematic gem a real force of nature!
Spidarlings was first brought to my attention all the way back in 2013, the production encountered some turbulence following equipment theft and mid-shoot casting changes; therefore, it was left in limbo for an entire year. After viewing the final product it’s incomprehensible to imagine that there were behind-the-scene’s obstacles occurring as what’s translated to the screen is a real slice of highly entertaining schlock with heart. Following a four-year delay, I can sincerely vouch that Spidarlings was well worth the wait.
The mighty Lloyd Kaufman, president of the USA’s leading independent genre label, Troma acquired the rights to the film. There is no better company to distribute Spidarlings than the king of DIY genre filmmaking when considering its tone and overall aesthetic.
Spidarlings is a fusion of devotion to all things cult, with references aplenty to Dario Argento (whom Kapsaski has worked with), Divine, John Waters to Manga. There are even FrightFest and Arrow Video posters in sight. It’s pretty darn wonderful that one film embodies all of these components.
With a plethora of nods to the past and it’s 80’s styling, Kapsaski’s film is also extremely current. Spidarlings is thoroughly progressive, depicting underrepresented minorities from the LGBT community to those in financial poverty. What Kapsaski has achieved is taking a very real subject and given it an allegorical, escapist makeover which works to a brilliant effect. He balances the film by addressing current social issues, laces them in irony but makes it so much fun and entertaining at the same time. There is no bleak outlook here as the issues addressed are taken to satirical heights which will leave the audience amused especially with the well timed comic moments and gags. For example, Matilda and Eden browse their local supermarket which turns into a musical number critiquing capitalism and mass production of goods. It’s as strange as it sounds but chuckle-inducing.
On a visual level, Spidarlings is a creative film where the surreal style is utilized to full effect. Bear in mind, this is a low budget B-Movie but Kapsaski cleverly gets around this by employing animated sequences to convey the more elaborate parts of the story.
The musical numbers composed by Jeff Kristain are eclectic, there’s punk, rock, 80’s infused pop, glamourous Drag Queen numbers and do wop to name a few. The music isn’t foregrounded into the film as often as would be expected from a musical; at certain points the club numbers do detract away from the main storyline and do create some pacing issues. All in all, the soundtrack works for the context of the film and that is what matters.
Performance artist Sophia Disgrace (The Shadow of Death, Emily Booth’s Gorezone) is always a joy to watch and has an awesome screen presence with her deadpan delivery. Disgrace and co-star Rahel Kapsaski have a great on-screen rapport and convey the sense of the ‘odd couple’ really well. Their performances imply a strong relationship between the characters allowing the audience to get on board with them. Their irresponsibility, rebellious nature and apathy towards the system makes them an engaging watch. The acting isn’t perfect by a long shot but that’s what this kind of film is all about, tongues planted in cheeks at all times and hamminess.
Spidarlings is a ‘bad taste’, thrilling, psychedelic acidic trip like no other that remains true to the Troma spirit. It packs a punch and makes a statement while revelling in glamour and grittiness in equal measure.
As of July, 1st 2017, Spidarlings is available to view on Troma Now, Troma Entertainment’s exclusive streaming service.