Boy Meets Girl


Director: Ray Brady

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

We requested a film through NetFlix, French director Leos Carax's 1984 Boy Meets Girl, an angsty love story shot in black & white. Imagine our surprise when what NetFlix sent us was the 1994 bondage & torture porn-horror film, Ray Brady's identically titled Boy Meets Girl.

The first time I ever saw an example of male masochistic porn, I was quite surprised by how unsexy it was: guys blindfolded & tied up in barbed wire & stepped on by scrawny women in spike heels, fake blood dripping from a hundred little wounds. I thought, hmmm, how does one tell fetishistic snuff porn distributed through the masochistic underground from a really bad horror film available anywhere? There apparently is no difference.

In England this student film was denied a government rating certificate which is a back-door form of censorship. In theory it could be shown without certification. But no television station can legally show an uncertified film, & realistically, no movie house will risk showing it, & no VHS or DVD producer will distribute it. It was frankly no loss; there are hundreds of bad films far better than this one that have never been distributed with or without a rating. It's very easy for the worst of the worst to cry censorship to avoid confronting their own failure.

Director & co-writer Ray Brady never stopped believing in their student film's value as entertainment, as horror, & as social commentary, the latter particularly deluded. On the not-very-intelligent commentary track, Brady actually posits that his sadomasochistic snuff-flick is "realistic" & he indicates that his film was intended (among other things) to present to children or young people a truer portrait of the meaning of violence than romanticized Hollywood versions (if he's really been exhibiting s/m porn to children, I trust by now he's been arrested).

Brady also claims the film is well researched. Before writing the fetishistic script (it needed a script???), he & his co-author read all about serial killer men before inventing a strictly fantasy dominatrix who snares victims & spends days or weeks tormenting, torturing, & disembowling them alive, then when dead saving their body parts in pickle jars & their skulls on bookshelves for her personal collection. Thematically it's a non-plot circumstance that Troma might enjoy camping around with, but would Troma assume such cheapo crapola constituted a well-researched & realistic film with an important social message for children?

This is male masochistic fantasy through & through, & as such, hey, why not film it. But try not to be so ignorant about what you're up to, gentlemen, as to make bolder claims is like the little boy caught wanking off in the kitchen sink trying to convince his mother he was just plucking the ticks off his pecker.

The first third of this film is so badly acted it underscores the pornographic nature of the piece, as no one excpects or gets even the B-horror level of acting from porn stars, they just quickly get down to business. In a series of bondage & torture scenes all set in one room, every permutation is considered for this dominatrix who prefers unwilling victims instead of the usual paying clientelle. Instead of editing, each sequence is separated by title placards like in a silent film, sometimes drawn so badly they were nearly unreadable.

As the "story" progresses it ceases to be mere S/M porn & becomes a true snuff film. Oddly enough when it starts down that path of fantasizing that dominatrices are synonymous with serial killers, it becomes a better film. This is partly because the fantasy that a woman who is a dominatrix is exactly like a male who is a serial killer is a nice little science fiction idea. But it is more because the actress in the first third of the film seems to have realized what a piece of shit she was in & made herself no longer available. Rather than start over with whoever they could talk into it next, the amateur porn-horror students trumped up an off-camera beheading of the dominatrix & replaced her with a second dominatrix/serial killer then continues with the original script otherwise unchanged.

While Margot Steinberg as the skanky psychopath Anne Marie couldn't act & had no screen charisma of any sort, her unplanned replacement by Danielle Sanderson as Julia the philosophical eviserator is both pleasing as eye-candy & disturbing as a loving soft-spoken disembowler.

Her unexpected ability to act affected Tim Poole's performance as the victim Tevin. Opposite Margo he was played as a screaming angry frightened dope whose fate was of no consequence because there was no route to caring about him as a person. Opposite Danielle his performance becomes vastly more nuanced & while not her equal as a performer, fact is, acting opposite someone with talent is easier than acting opposite someone with no talent.

The change of the female lead helped raise this film just a hair above the level of snuff porn & brings it closer to being a Z-grade horror film. Tevin more or less survives the disembowling, & is permitted one of the longest hammiest series of death scenes of all time, which in its own perverted way could be a hammy actor's dream come true. Once or twice his pitifulness becomes breathtaking, like when she unties him & tells him he can go outside, but he's too near death to do more than slide halfway to the floor.

But the bulk of the film is merely about bondage & discipline & will bore anyone whose own deviant patterns don't match up to those which motivated the script. Despite the director's claim that male serial killers were the well-researched model for the female dominatrix, the amateur filmmakers clearly didn't understand their own research, & certainly didn't know diddly-squat about the unique qualities of the distinctly tiny handful of female serial killers the world has known. The only real model they had to work with was pornography aimed at a male market, which does not acknowledge that women's motivation is economic & men's motivation is the fullfillment of their paid-for & strongly demanded desire to have their perversion serviced.

So as with virtually all pornography (& the majority of horror films), there isn't so much as a hint of realism here, & the "impression" of realism is merely a side-effect of the amateurish cheapness of the thing & the fact that the scriptwriters left no room for a plotted story. Objectively it's no more grotesque than Saw even in its worst portion, but by its lack of imagination & by fabricating no story to go with the acts which two male fantasizers' imposed on their romance of a female sexual psychopath, it comes off mostly as porn which the student filmmakers have attempted to fob off as cinema verite.

At best it might pass itself off as a variant of Misery reduced to its central premise of capture & torture, removing such frills as context & story; or Man Bites Dog with all the story elements excised.

Assessed on its pretended level of supposed-to-be-gritty-realism, the various tortures are of very uneven effectiveness. The scene with the helmet made out of transparent plastic buckets which force the victim to smoke three cigarettes & rebreathe the smoke until he nearly suffocates, well first, he was in the helmet so briefly he could've held his breath that long, & second, it looked so stupid that its only effect was to make this viewer marvel at how amateurish amateurism can get. But when they swapped actresses to continue the story without their original star, a few of the vignettes were as credible as the psychological torture sequences out of Orwell's 1984. If the entire film had been as well done as its most convincing ten minutes, this might really have been something praiseworthy within its limited sphere of significance.

After the film ran its course we were very curious about the commentary track, because we really did want to know how anyone could make such a bad film & even think it was worthy of a commentary track. So we watched select bits that seemed to require an answer to "what the hell did you think you were filming anyhow?" The film was much more interesting with the commentary track on, because the director was such a serious-minded moron who had absolutely no self-awareness & revealed no sense of humor about his crappy little film.

His seriousness was accidentally satiric. The claim that his film was a better representation of violence for children is a prime example of his shortsighted & retarded understanding of his own motivations; there were many moments just like it, & he has a true masochist's sense of having been persecuted by the government for not letting it be shown on the telly. The problem with masochists who demand some tart spank their monkey for them until it bleeds is that if the tart refuses, they throw temper tantrums & reveal their own deep misognyny, until the commanded punishment is given. The reality of the event is that the sadist is the servant of the masochist; the fantasy of the thing is that the masochist is not interested but the sadist won't stop, the "top" forcing orgasm (or death) upon the innocent victim rather than on a pushy demanding lazy bottom.

Frankly I had half expected the commentary track to begin much more intelligently self-aware with somethiung like, "Hello. I'm an emotionally crippled wanker & I made this film so I'd have something to wank off with every night." I certainly never imagined the masochistic fantasies embodied by a screenplay by two schoolboys would be mistaken by themselves for a well researched realistic portrayal of a serial killer suitable for minors to watch. I mean, in its own sick way, that's hysterically funny! And a lot loonier than the film itself.

It is also advertising itself as a cult classic. It's certainly worth watching in the context of "what if Troma's most juvenile-minded satirists thought of themselves as professorial significant filmmakers?" as that sort of thing's good for a jolly laugh. The self-important delusions make Boy Meets Girl a fascinating case study in unfounded megalomania, plus it is a good example of how to make a film with no money & very little talent without requiring much more than one six-foot-wide closet & a dentist's chair.

Advertising itself as "too controversial to release" is very easy when one can't face the possibility that it was merely unworthy of release to the public airwaves. Fact is it did get released, so stop whinging you wusses.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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