Bloody Knuckles is a film that sets out to push as many hot buttons as it can in regard to revelling in the offensive and downrightly bad taste. Alas, it feels like a film that has arrived about twenty years too late and is flogging a particular sub-genre that hit its peak during the late 1980s/early 1990s with films such as Re-Animator (1985), Peter Jacksons Bad Taste (1988) and Meet the Feebles (1990), and of course the principal output of Troma Films with works such as The Toxic Avenger (1986), Class of Nuke Em High (1986) and Surf Nazis Must Die (1987), among others. It may say something when you can sit watching a film with plentiful gore and meltdown effects, swastika-daubed vibrators, dubious racial humour and masked gay avengers who come wearing leather fetish gear and gimp masks, and end up feeling more bored by the films efforts to offend you than you ever do in laughing at its un-PC outrages.
I hate the use of the phrase trying too hard as a critical term I think everybody who sets out to make a film, especially those on reduced budgets, work as hard as they can and such a term diminishes earnest effort. It seems one of those vague phrases that people wave around when they refer to a film that seems to be jumping about saying look at this and trying to draw your attention to an effect they are trying to achieve. Bloody Knuckles feels like that. Surely the extent to which it misses its mark is the fact that rather than the gonzo cartoonish energy that fires up most of the above mentioned, this is a film that seems to be doing the very Canadian thing and apologising for being offensive, or at least has several speeches where characters are trying to justify being offensive as artistically necessary. To me, this is the kiss of death. Troma, Peter Jackson et al never concerned themselves with trying to justify their actions, they were like schoolboys trying to be naughty and throw as much muck as they could in the direction of the stiff and uptight gatekeepers of proper morality.
Aside from that, Bloody Knuckles feels like no more than a warmed-over version of Oliver Stones The Hand (1981) there is a great deal of similarity between the central plots of both that feature a comic-book artist whose hand is severed and returns to take revenge on his tormentors. Even before that there has been a long history of films about disembodied hands going all the way back to The Beast With Five Fingers (1946) and passing through the likes of Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), The Crawling Hand (1963), Dr Terrors House of Horrors (1964) and the more spoofy likes of The Evil Dead II (1987), Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992), Quicksilver Highway (1997) and Idle Hands (1999), not to mention a disembodied hand becoming a regular character in tvs The Addams Family (1964-6).
(Screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival)