Film Review: Dear God No!
Review by Marc Patterson
There are requirements to watch certain films. For the sake of this exercise we’re going to call these requirements a cover charge. The cover charge for Dear God No! is a two-beer minimum, preferably of the cheapest, skankiest brew you can find. PBR is preferable, but any old shit mopped up off the barroom floor will do. While you’re at it – do yourself a mat shot and you’ll be my personal fuckin’ hero. If you don’t know what a mat shot is, just watch and learn. Okay, with two beers dumped down in your gullet (the quicker the better) keep the rest of that case of beer (yes a whole damn case – no one likes a lightweight!) close by and roll film.
Here’s the question running through my mind right now: How does one properly describe a film that opens with a scene of outlaw bikers killing and raping nuns? Now let’s be clear for a moment. When I say “kill” I don’t just mean “bang, bang, you’re dead”. No, I’m talking something more along the line of running the bitch down with a tricked out chopper, backing that sweet ride up and doing a burnout on her chest until her guts explode, spraying blood and intestines in every direction. Okay? You all with me now?
The Impalers are some badass motherfuckers. This MC shows some real class, calling themselves the 1% of the 1% – and they mean it. They ride hard, fuck hard, drink hard, and kill harder. My kind of guys. Go big or go home I say.
When they head over to a local dive bar for some titty action they’re warned they need to back off all the murdering and raping. That sort of activity gives everyone a bad name and draws the heat from the man for the more enterprising of criminals. It’s, as they say, “not good for business”. But the Impalers don’t care about business. They want to be free, free to do whatever they please, whenever they please. When emotions erupt it results in a classic bar-room shoot out for the ages with rival biker gang Satan’s Own as well as the Tommy gun blazing topless Nixon strippers! It’s time for the Impalers to head for the hills and lay low for a stretch. They find a cabin in the woods to cool their heels at, but as fate turns, the cabin contains even more unimaginable terror than what The Impalers could inflict on the roads!
Dear God No! is a slice of sleazy bikersploitation ripped from the pages of early 70’s rebel filmmaking. Writer/director James Bickert (Dumpster Baby) returns to the genre to create a film that flies in the face of the modern grindhouse “homage” piece, with something hellishly pure – a wild and trippy ride through southern biker culture soaked in gasoline and PBR.
Before I go much further I’d like to take a sidebar moment to talk about the problematic side of the modern grindhouse film, which can be attributed to two men – Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Generally speaking I like their films. They’ve set the gold standard for what we now think of as a cheap exploitation film. But, ask any die hard exploitation fan and they’ll tell you what the problems are with these modern flicks. It starts with the fake distressed look and moves on to the hyper stylized gore, and (dare I say it?) the good acting. Most are shot digitally, contain green screen effects and are edited in the same manner. The sound mixing is good, too good. Even more, these flicks are all about brand name actors and breathing new life into old stars of cinema.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this new breed of exploitative “grindhouse” cinema, they don’t quite capture the essence of those trashy drive-in flicks from the early 70’s. Forget about films like Machete, Hell Ride, Hobo with a Shotgun, Planet Terror, and the ilk. Instead, grab Northville Cemetery Massacre, Werewolves on Wheels, Cycle Savages, or The Peacekillers. You’ll see what I mean almost immediately. The whole vibe is glaringly different.
Dear God No! has been carefully thought out and constructed from top to bottom to look, feel and exude the essence of those late 60’s, early 70’s drive-in biker flicks, and it truly comes through in every frame. Even the camera used to shoot the film was a 30 year old product of the era, an early 70’s Arri 16mm camera. As James Bickert told me – he wanted this to play like a lost film from that era, not a modern film paying homage. To that end, it’s totally believable. Trust me – I’ve seen it twice now. I’m scouring the frames looking for the kinks in the kinky. From the sets, to the chicks (who are noticeably tattoo free), to the tunes that carry this film – everything is pure 70’s sleaze. It’s so grimy and filthy the stench drips off the walls. To boot, the film is as equally campy and fun as those old forgotten drive-in flicks.
The acting in the film shouldn’t be discussed. This is drive-in quality filmmaking and plays as such – intentionally so. Plus, Bickert went out of his way to avoid using actors, instead opting for real bikers and strippers who would give the film a more authentic feel – and it works. When you have a pot of bloody action boiling over with sleaze and mayhem good character acting takes backseat to the violence every time. No question – that’s not going to be every viewer’s preference. So, if you enjoy sipping at expensive micro-brews and watching overly produced Jason Statham films with your pinky in the air, then take note. Dear God No! is designed for dive-bar regulars who can pound beer with their shots of whiskey.
What impressed me the most were the cool bikes, great backdrops, and awesome practical effects. Most low budget flicks keep their locations limited, often in bland places with sets that are fairly unimpressive or at least otherwise non-descriptive. Here there were an array of locations, all stripped of anything modern (which for a few locations I was sure that wasn’t difficult to accomplish). Toss in some sweet rides, which included a couple of knuckleheads, then pile on gobs of gratuitous gross-out gore and copious amounts of succulent nudity and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Dear God No! is a brash, in-your-face, “fuck you if you don’t like it” film that doesn’t really give a shit either way. It was made on the cheap by a bunch of guys who enjoy making films, and clearly know how to do so, and had a good time cranking this one out. It’s genuine and the total real-deal, something not so easy to come by in the age of faux-exploitation. Highly recommended, but please remember that two-beer cover charge.