Thanks to the dedication of studios like Lions Gate, grindhouse films are experiencing something of a resurgence, but what have audiences done to deserve both Secuestro Express and Chaos in the period of less than a week? Perhaps it’s a reckoning, because as the head ghoul of this David DeFalco exploitation cheapie declares, “I’m Chaos, the fucking devil!” It’s into some secluded California ’burb that this tattooed monster (Kevin Gage) and his badass posse come charging in, knock, knock, knocking on the heaven’s door of respectable family values, represented here by an interracial couple that allows their daughter Emily (Maya Barovich) to go to some rave in the woods with her friend Angelica (Chantal Degroat). Lured into Chaos’s clutches with the promise of Ecstasy, Emily and Angelica are bound, tortured, and finished off by their captors with incredible ease. An impromptu tittie-slicer and rectal-vaginal probe will have gorehounds pitching tents, but nothing else commands the nervous energy of these two scenes. The characterizations are phony (Chaos is meant to be dangerous because he says “fag” a lot), the acting is lousy, and DeFalco directs the whole thing with all the finesse of someone whose been hit on the head one too many times (is this a good time to say he was a wrestler?).
Following the path of destruction laid out by Last House on the Left so closely that Wes Craven could probably sue DeFalco for a dual screenwriting credit and win, Chaos is still a dim approximation of Craven’s 1972 classic, which not only worked as a lyrically twisted recapitulation of Bergman’s The Virgin Spring but also as a Vietnam allegory. It probably goes unsaid that Chaos doesn’t think nearly as hard as its predecessor (one reflects the immorality of its time, the other the immorality of its maker). Case in point: Last House on the Left was a cautionary tale promotional ads insisted was only a movie, but DeFalco’s version is a movie that insists it’s a cautionary tale. No joke, the film shamelessly begins with a title crawl declaring the filmmakers wish to “educate and save lives” with its grue-marinated shocks. But where’s the lesson here? Don’t let your kids out of the house? Don’t ask for Ecstasy from strange men in the woods? If the undercurrent of gallows humor that comes to a ridiculous swell by film’s end and DeFalco’s glib vision of race relations are any indication, the only people he seems interested in educating are people who are genuinely moved by anti-drug public service announcements. But since these people probably don’t let their kids out of the house to begin with, what’s the point of this shit anyway?