Life and Death of a Porno Gang (Synapse)

life-and-death-of-a-porn-gangNo matter what the title leads you to expect, I’m pretty sure THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is going to surprise the hell out of you. It’s full of the kind of elements one expects from extreme exploitation cinema, with a range of taboo-breakers from hardcore sexuality to severe violence. The concepts of the story are also transgressive. PORNO GANG is, for a fact, a work of brilliant artistic subversion. The Serbian film follows the exploits and misadventures of a well-meaning outsider artist whose search for work leads him into directing porn. Unfortunately, his producer just wants standard product so there’s no room for artistic innovation. So the director takes his show on the road with a live traveling porno variety show. Of course, the police are on their tails from town to town, no matter how deep in the neighboring woods they hide their act. Said act is very popular among some villagers but terribly unpopular among others. There are some hilarious encounters, as well as gut-wrenchingly disturbing confrontations between the porno gang and the townsfolk and authorities. When the gang of gays and straights, drags and bona fide born-female beauties end up in a tight spot, they take the offer of a mysterious man who has been following the gang’s act. His offer: make snuff films. But it’s not as immoral a proposition as it seems. The victims will be people who want to die and whose payment for appearing in their first – and last – screen appearance will go toward taking care of family or whoever is being left behind. Of course, eventually, the gang is forced to make a snuff film for other reasons. The story arc of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is incredible, both as surface tale telling and subtextual psychological arcs. It’s a magnificently original bit of sacred cow offings but it’s more than just a middle-finger fuck-you to convention. It’s quite simply a shocking and unique piece of darkly humorous and horrific piece of intelligent cinema and possibly one of the best independent films I’ve seen this year.

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