Black Ribbon

Director: John Orrichio

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Turd Alert

Black Ribbon As a generality I put Turd Alerts on microbudget films that failed at any point to charm me or entertain me. It's not enough to just be a terrible, amateur, & ridiculous, as bad movies can be great fun. But if they're also boring....

I almost left the turd alert off Black Ribbon (2007) because for the first half hour I kept thinking something interesting really might happen (it never did).

In the early scenes it focused on a bullied retarded adult & his protective brother (S. Fredor) & their "Nana" (Cassandra Tisdale) who had no horror film touchstones but struck me as interesting characters. And among the horrendously amateur performances I was especially enjoying Rudy J. Altenor as Joey, the tongue-thrusting "mentally challenged" adult. His bad acting was genuinely fun to watch.

Virtually nothing is happening for that first half hour, & as soon as stuff does begin to happen, the film stops showing promise. It's packaged as a horror film with promise of a haunting, but it views more like a porno but with all the sex scenes replaced with images of a guy at his typewriter.

The story alas is not much about Joey's family. Rather, it regards an evidently successful writer, Ken Richard (Tony Rugnetta), who has bought a house in Jersey to get away from the big city to write in peace. His wife (Jacki Vogel, an exceedingly minor horror-porn star not much in the film) still works in the city so they retain a New York apartment, & she's only at the house weekends, during which she kvetches & is generally annoying. So Ken's alone much of the time to get himself into mischief.

Black RibbonHe's addicted to e-auctions & has paid hundreds of dollars for an old Underwood typewriter that I could've got him for under a hundred. The "black ribbon" of the title is the one his typewriter lacks.

The typewriter turns out to have belonged to a sadistic Satanist who was murdered in 1856 (never mind that the oldest Undewoods date only to the 1890s & the model in the film to the 1920s; this goof is symbolic of the film's overall range of intelligence or lack thereof).

The typewriter exerts power over Ken, though not much that we can see, as he was shown to be inclined toward bondage fetishism even before he got it, angry at his crabby wife for not wanting to be restrained.

Most of the film he's shown sitting at the Underwood, typing without a ribbon so that he has increasing numbers of blank pages stacking up, a borrowing from The Shining (). He claims the typewriter is telling him a story & it's more important to type it into his mind, rather than onto the paper.

Ken befriends Joey from down the road. Joey is easily manipulated into watching or supporting Ken in his bad deeds. Purportedly under the typewriter's influence, or more likely because he was always a dangerous perv, Ken captures the welcome wagon lady Emily, played by Z-factory porn star "Debbie D," alluding to her 36-inch bustline.

For an old sex industry broad Debbie D still has a nice body but jeez put a bag on her head. She looks like a worn-out stripper whose been too long in the trade, not a kidnapped housewife.

Better looking in the cast is Berenice Di Piazza as the young Italian maid. Every writer has one of those doncha know. Di Piazza comes closer than anyone to almost being able to act, though I assume the director met her through an escort service. Unfortunately she's not much in the story & when finally victimized, it's a quickie. So if tortured babe action is the point of this turd, why does the crusty porn Debbie D-cup star get the nudie scenes instead of the truly nubile Di Piazza?

Ken ties Emily up in the basement. He periodically tortures her in the most uninteresting ways. Joey sometimes assists, & alas the character of Joey is reduced to an Igor to the writer's Dr. Frankenstein. Ken's wife comes home periodically but must be deaf; she never hears a thing from the basement.

Ken has contacted the estate that had the early Victorian satanist's typewriter. They also have a collection of the satanist's restraint & torture devices & buys all that stuff, including an item of stainless steel head gear of extremely recent vintage, none of the stuff the least bit antique.

The props are so lame that the film ends up barely using any of them. Between brief moments of tepid s/m action, sometimes assisted by a local Goth girl (Deirdre Verdolino) who never quite fits in the story at all, we mostly just have to watch Ken typing.

An idiot who could get off in three seconds flat might be able to use the lightning-swift blowjob scene for porn value, but gore hounds have nothing. The bondage scenes show nothing, & a typical murder sequence (an "imaginary" sequence of killing a nun) is filmed to look like Ken poked the actress with a vaguely knife-shaped stick. As exploitation of any kind, there's just nothing here, yet if a more serious-minded film were intended, I just can't see how.

It ends with nothing of interest ever having occurred. There's a tacked-on "surprise" ending that doesn't work as much of a surprise since it relates to nothing else, it's just tacked on as a fake climax to a faked story.

Through sockpuppets or bribed shills, this director has a very few "positive" reviews at imdb (the "critics" reviewing nothing else at imdb). But follow-up critics tell the truth, noting that the director or cast are obviously posting stealth spam for a film void of entertainment value. The best you can say of Black Ribbon is that no talent was wasted because no talent was involved.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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