Somewhere between Troma and the grindhouse comes a “film” that makes the Human Centipede 2 look like The Godfather. This utterly pointless experience is called Hanger and it’s a waste of time, money, and I would say effort, but I wouldn’t want to even suggest that effort was put into this.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Troma films, here’s a very, very brief run down of them:
Troma films are intentionally b-grade (or z-grade) shock, schlock, exploitation films, usually horror films, but the occasional forays into other genres aren’t unheard of. Troma films are intentionally done on the ultra-cheap, and this has become some of their charm. They’re deliberately bad movies, but some are genuinely enjoyable. Troma is the studio responsible for cult classics like Killer Condom and The Class of Nuke ’em High or The Toxic Avenger. Most of these films use an overabundance of cheap special effects to ramp up the surrealism of their scenes, and this chaotic excess of cheap gore and viscera is a certain trademark style these days.
Hanger is not a Troma film, but it wants to be. It’s got the terrible-quality and over-abundance of cheap gore thing down pat, but there’s no sense of it being intentional; there’s no charm to the film, and it’s just tedious. There’s no plot to the film, either. It’s sort of a series of character arcs (but please don’t confuse that as character work) that all happen at once. You could cut this film up in any order and it would make just as much sense.
Plot (if you can call it that)
We open in a seedy room (Motel room? Apartment? Establishing shots don’t exist in this movie) and see two women and a transvestite watching a gory, b-grade horror movie. The transvestite is played by Lloyd Kaufman, owner of Troma Films – I don’t know why he’s in this movie. All three of them are prostitutes, working under the Pimpage of Leroy. One of the women, Rose, is heavily pregnant, despite Leroy’s demands that she “get rid of it.” She also owes him a lot of money which he’s demanding be paid back, and he’s determined that “no one wants to fuck a fat bitch” – though given many of the “fetishes” that are played with in this movie I don’t see why he thinks that. Not to mention that a Google search could set him straight.
Rose goes to meet one of her johns, who’s name is John because the movie is hi-larious like that, and he offers her $20 out of pity and a stuffed bear for the baby. He also lectures her about getting to a shelter and raising the baby, and offers her some money for that. Never mind the fact that she’s a prostitute who’s clearly trapped on the worst rung of life, or the fact that she can’t possibly support herself and a baby, or the fact that he knows that her pimp is out to get her – he thinks it’s a good idea to give her money and kick her out of his truck, rather than, say – drive her away at top speed.
Leroy witnesses this, and then takes matters into his own hand. He takes a wire coat hanger, strikes Rose across the face with it then throws her on a bed and climbs on top of her. Then in extreme close up, we see him perform a coat-hanger-abortion, ripping the baby out and tossing it on the ground – an act that gets its own close up.
Cut to the longest fucking credits sequence ever, and we learn that the baby survived, was taken in by a vagrant, and has been raised as such until his 18th birthday where the plot resumes. Hanger, as he has been sensitively named (it’s like naming a shooting victim Bullet) has grown up severely deformed. John arrives and picks him up, and promises him a new life, but not before running over the vagrant pointlessly.
Now here is where I would describe the rest of the plot, but it’s almost impossible to do, because there’s no plot to speak of, and when the characters do try to speak of it, you can’t hear a goddamn word they’re saying. Stuff just happens in this movie, with no logic, no connection, no sense of tension or story, and not in a “series of vignettes” sort of way. I would honestly not be surprised if the process of the film being made was that the actors turned up, the director chose one of a handful of sets, and then told them to make it up as they went along. I’m not exaggerating; I think that’s what’s happened here.
It seems that John has managed to get Hanger some work at a rubbish dump. Along the way, Hanger meets Russel, a combination of every offensive disability stereotype you can think of, mixed with every offensive Asian stereotype you can think of. He makes Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi look progressive. Russel’s main shtick is that he is 100% addicted to porn and thinks of himself as some stud-in-waiting. Also at the dump is another similarly-disfigured guy, who I’ll call Rapey McGee, as he says that he has no trouble getting laid – once he produces a bottle of DateRapeGenerica from his pocket.
The start of Hanger’s story involves John hiring a prostitute as an 18th Birthday gift to him. Things seem to be going as usual, until Hanger freaks out and rips the girl apart. John and he hide the body, with John complimenting Hanger’s “bloodlust”. This element doesn’t really get followed up on until it’s convenient for the movie to stumble on something it thinks resembles a plot point.
Another story (sort of) involves John getting revenge on Leroy after the murder of Rose. It happens in bits and bobs along the way.
For the most part, the movie lingers on the Hanger story (although with much more time spent on Russel) and it just sort of muddles its way along.
At one point, Rapey McGee decides he’s had enough of Russel and Hanger’s taunting of him, and drugs them, before taking a handful of ErectileEnhancerGenerica and raping Russel. He then takes a look at Hanger, and pulls up his shirt to see a gaping wound on his stomach (never mentioned before or after this scene) and proceeds to rape said hole. They get their revenge when Hanger knocks him out and nastiness ensues.
I mention this sequence specifically, because it would be a massive moment or series of moments in any other film. Here, it just happens, with no connection to previous scenes, no motivation for it, no consequences after it, and no lingering effect on the characters. It could be placed literally anywhere in the movie and it would still match the other scenes. Also, Russel has the fucking audacity to make a reference to The Warriors, and coming from a film like this, I damn near put my fist through the screen.
At the end of the longest hour and a half you will ever spend in front of a screen, John kills Leroy before being fatally wounded himself, and Hanger runs off into the distance with a screaming woman slung over his shoulder after she called him “baby” which is apparently some trigger for his bloodlust.
Hated it. It’s such a lazy excuse for filmmaking that that’s what I find offensive about it. I realise that the rape, the murder, the grotesqueness, the vilification, the violence, the viscera, and all the other vices of this heap of shit are meant to shock, to offend, to disturb but there’s nothing even remotely close to that. It would be a disturbing film if some fucking effort got put into it – instead I yawned my way through these scenes. I wouldn’t call them provocative, because that suggests some small amount of intelligence. This film is like being trolled by a 10-year-old.
The acting is simply atrocious, from all quarters. There is not a single scene that translates effectively. There is not a single scene that is shot with any sense of composition. The soundtrack for the film, made mostly of metal music that resembles someone selecting a 30 second loop and hitting repeat sounds like someone left a boombox playing on set. The make up effects are somewhat effective, but only in keeping with the rest of the lazy nature of this film.
As for it being banned, while I’m against the abstract act of banning films, this one I can’t get too worked up about. I suppose the censors should have taken into account the lack of realism in any single aspect of the production of this film, and they should seriously have reconsidered banning it, due to the inevitable publicity spike (it’s the only way I heard of the film) but for once I’m going to support the stance that a film’s artistic integrity should be a mitigating factor; there is not a single shred of artistry in this film whatsoever.
Do you remember those kids when you were in very early school, who would play in the mud and have some weird obsession with their own faeces? The kind of kids who would revel in the smell of their own farts and eat/drink the snot out of their noses as it came running down into their mouths? This film is essentially all of those kids in larger bodies with no sense of maturity. It’s about as enjoyable an experience as drinking a glass of pus
It’s not offensive – it could have been, but it’s so boring and ridiculously lazy that it’s hard to get worked up at all. It’s one of those films that has a really dirty, filthy, grimy aesthetic, which again, if it had been intentional might have meant something but it’s not. The film looks like someone crapped all over the characters, and oh yeah – that actually fucking happens at one point!
I know I should be worked up over the banning of the film, and I know it’s slightly hypocritical to care so deeply about some other films getting the RC treatment and being so non-caring about this. I am still against the notion that says “adults should be able to see, read and hear what they want provided we’ve said it’s ok first” but in the case of this particular movie, I’m sorry, but I just can’t care. If it stays banned, we’re not missing that much as a nation.
If you’d like a more comprehensive and in-depth look at the circumstances around it’s banning, visit (the excellent) RefusedClassification.com by clicking on the link below.