Kill Dolly Kill (Fantastic Fest 2023)
Dir. Heidi Moore, Anthony David, & Daniel Murphy (2023)
Two rival drag queen serial killers face off in a competition for Serial Killer of the Year, but the town's corrupt mayor tries to bring them down.
Horror comedies are always interesting to discuss, and we've talked about the criteria for a good film in the genre before. To be a truly great horror comedy, you generally have to be good at both facets: horror and comedy. The studio has always been the Hooters of film production companies: tacky, yet unrefined. Sure, there are plenty of Troma films that lean much more into the comedy side of things, though it would be just as easy to categorize their films as more genre than specifically horror. Kill Dolly Kill, which is showing now at Fantastic Fest, fits very much into that mold, which makes sense as it is indeed being distributed by Troma Entertainment, a fact that should not come as a surprise for a film with a cameo by the great Lloyd Kaufman. In fact, this one even takes place in Tromaville, the fictional town that is very real in our hearts.
Benji/Dolly Deadly (Donna Slash), the character from director Heidi Moore's previous film Dolly Deadly, is back to his old ways, killing folks in gratuitously violent ways across Tromaville in a trailer park called Paradise Park. Benji is wildly popular, earning a place atop the Serial Killer of the Year competition, but he's got enemies as well, most notably a rival serial killer named Slasherella (Amy Vodkahaus) and the evil Mayor Harry Cox (Tom Komisar). After Dolly is committed to an insane asylum against her will, she must find a way to escape and claim her rightful place at the top of the competition, slashing her way through both nurse and politician alike.
Kill Dolly Kill alternates between the typical Troma fare and a batshit-crazy musical, providing a raucous good time for anyone who's up for this type of cinema. The jokes fall flat through most of the film, though the musical numbers are particularly funny, but the gore is top-notch and quite brutal. It's a bizarre amalgamation of styles, from drag queen musical to full-on acid trip. There is extensive nudity, actually quite a bit more than I've found in Troma films as of late, and quite a bit more than I expected from a film that is largely about drag queen serial killers. It's certainly an acquired taste, and I'm thankful that I acquired that taste long ago, because it's an enjoyable movie if you can let yourself go and appreciate the stupidity.
Look, we're not fooling ourselves here: it's not Shakespeare, or even Shakespeare Shitstorm (another Troma film). All in all, however, it's an enjoyable film with lots of shining moments, most notably the musical numbers written (and performed in some instances) by supporting actor Tom Komisar. It's dirty, grimy, honestly a little creepy at times, and more than a little disgusting... exactly as it should be. If you're a fan of Troma films, you'll likely enjoy this one. If not, stay away, unless you're willing to debase yourself to a film that you likely feel is beneath you. Grow up, ya prudes.
Who this movie is for: Indie horror fans, Horror comedy lovers, Basically all Troma fans
Bottom line: It's never very difficult to determine if someone is going to like a Troma film. In fact, it's as easy as the answer to a single question: do you like Troma films? If the answer is no, they're likely not going to like this one. If the answer is yes, this one is extremely similar to all of the rest, containing copious bloodshed, incredibly juvenile humor, and over-the-top performances that fit perfectly into the insane plot and increasingly ridiculous scenarios that are inherent to the genre of films they produce. It's debuting at Fantastic Fest and will be headed to streaming platforms soon!