Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall rolled out the red carpet this week for the premier of Fife-made feature Dick Dynamite 1944. Produced for ‘the price of a second hand skoda’ and featuring appearances from a lengthy list of well known faces (Nick Oliveri from Queens of the Stone Age, Lars Frederickson of Rancid, Electric 6’s Dick Valentine, Irvine Welsh and The Critical Drinker to name only a few), it is a true ‘indie’ project with a DIY punk spirit at its core.
Described as Inglorious Basterds meets The Evil Dead, the movie follows Dick – a ‘walking bicep’ with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent – and his dirty half-dozen through a series of grizzly encounters with the Gestapo and their reanimated recruits.
Whilst the Inglorious Basterds comparison rings true thematically, if Dick Dynamite calls to mind anything in the Tarantino universe it would be the Grindhouse project, soaked as it is in retro B-movie aesthetic and proceeded on premier night by vintage cinema trailers. At times, such as in the opening credits, this reads as homage but at others, like the deliberately shonky ADR, it is full out pastiche. Like all pastiche the film cycles through a series of tropes – Nazi Zombies, ‘Allo ‘Allo accents, The House of the Dead style evil potions – but mixes it together into its own nastily entertaining concoction.
Paced at about a million miles an hour, the humour is relentlessly and unapologetically crass and the violence frenetic and bloody. The increasingly inventively dispatched body count takes on an almost Final Destination-like glee as the film goes on – death by WWII propeller and the explosive revelation of what a Scotsman keeps under his kilt being highlights. Where the movie unexpectedly excels, however, is in the hand to hand combat scenes. Expertly choreographed and shot, they are a joy to watch and really help underpin all the schlocky groo with something viscerally thrilling.
I’m not sure this film has any real message, other than perhaps ‘war is shit and everyone is awful’; the closest it gets to a dissection of fascism is frequent gags about circumcision. However, if it has any heart it’s personified by a standout performance from Adam Harper as Wakowski. Wakowski is a green behind the ears war photographer, a kind of bumblingly comedic version of Mathew Modine in Full Metal Jacket, looking on in horror at the carnage before him. In one notable, and surprisingly moving, scene it is our (anti) heroes he finds committing the atrocities. It seems to be a common theme in Scottish arts and literature, or perhaps just the Scottish temperament, to portray virtually everyone as unlikeable at best, so Wakowski’s gibbering shock is a welcome everyman for the viewer to lock onto.
This is not a movie for the feint hearted, barely a scene goes by where someone’s head doesn’t get split open like a watermelon, and if you’re put off by the idea of jokes about Eva Braun’s pussy best give it a pass. But if you want a riotous non-stop comedy blood bath filled with vomit, zombie children and and exploding corpses, this is the movie for you…
Dick Dynamite: 1944 will be hitting the indie film festival circuit soon. Find out more about the film here.