BD. Sparky Pictures. Region B. 15. @SparkyPictures
Ever since 1981’s miraculous An American Werewolf In London (which was kind of a British picture), attempts to revive the British film industry or just keep it ticking over have frequently taken the form of Horror Comedy. Discounting Shaun Of The Dead (2004) most of those have failed miserably and most of those miserable failures have been all too well deserved. I was dismayed, though, to see Benjamin Barfoot’s Double Date, which kicked off 2017’s Mayhem Festival in barnstorming style, disappear into film limbo for the last couple of years (still, I thought Mandy was going to break all box office records, so WTF do I know?) There are trailers among the extras on this disc which describe DD as “in cinemas now”. Was it ever? Did I blink and miss it? No matter, I’m clutching the blu-ray in my clammy little hand right now and I couldn’t be happier.
Where AAWIL was simultaneously scary, funny, sexy, adrenalising and surprisingly tender, Double Date ticks just about all of those boxes, too. Well, it’s not particularly tender, but like Joe E. Brown says at the end of Some Like It Hot… nobody’s perfect. What Barfoot and writer Danny Morgan do bring to the table is a ferociously satirical take on the dating game and its attendant rituals, on what boys and girls are respectively expecting from their social and sexual intercourse. Terminal virgin Ginger Jim (Morgan) wants to get over his crippling shyness with women. Jack-the-lad Alex (Michael Socha) wants to help his mate Jim out with that and hopefully get his own end away. Sisters Kitty (Kelly Wenham) and Lulu (Georgia Groome) are after something more lasting and meaningful… you know, commitment… devotion… stability. Sorry, wrong movie… Kitty wants to complete the ritual that will raise their occultist father from the dead. Lulu thinks that’s a pretty good idea in principle, she just wishes that it didn’t involve quite so much serial killing.
The film’s most profound statement on the vexed issue of sexual politics is left to a cameoing Dexter Fletcher (unrecognisable from Press Gang days), to wit: “You know what they say about women… can’t live with ’em, can’t have a wank without a naked photo of one of them!” That’s the best line in the film, though one of the closing exchanges between Jim and Lulu (“I’m so sorry we tried to kill you, Jim”… “I’m sorry I kicked your dad’s head off”) runs it close.
Double Date is essentially José Larraz’s Vampyres on E (it’s a toss-up between Jim’s family birthday party and the numerous clubbing scenes as to which is the more wince inducing) with a spot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in at the death. American Werewolf did had a much better soundtrack. I really could have done without Big Narstie (now that’s not what I call music), though the Goat stuff was vaguely more to my liking.
This is exhilarating stuff with some great ensemble playing. Groome is endearing, Socha is a hoot, Morgan reminds me of James Corden, only with talent and likeability. The terms of my restraining order oblige me to refrain from blathering on too obsessively about Wenham, but…
As if that wasn’t enough, extras include a commentary track with director, cast and crew, the aforementioned trailers, photo gallery and engaging “making of” featurettes. One of my favourite releases so far this year. Kudos to (who the fuck are?) Sparky Pictures.