7/30/14

Maximum Shame (2010) Review

Time is running out and the future is a black hole!

Do you like to see shit get blown up?  Do you like to sit down and turn your brain off for 90 minutes of seizure inducing lens flares and fast moving shiny things?  Well, this probably isn't your movie.

Maximum Shame is described as "an apocalyptic fetish horror musical chess sci-fi weird feature movie."  I would say that is an apt if not succinct description.  But it is also more than these things.  It's a claustrophobic, thought provoking, bewildering puzzle which I don't think has a concrete answer.  It's a collection of characters who live in a bizarre world where each thinks they have the answers about their reality, but are actually not really in control.  It's a tale which is often humorous, often disturbing about the struggle between those who dominate and those who serve.   Or something.  Nothing about this film is clear, which I think is the point.

"A man is lying in bed as a woman, presumed to be his wife, lulls him to sleep with various facts about numbers, such as the fact that there are more potential variations on a game of chess than there are atoms in the universe,  She succumbs to sleep herself after promising to help him determine his favorite number tomorrow, and as soon as she's asleep, the man quickly springs to life.  We hear his internal monologue as he worries about his impending doom:  a black hole will swallow the Earth in a few short hours.  In an attempt to survive a few moments longer, he crawls under the bed and finds himself in a bizarre alternate universe."

This "bizarre alternate universe" is ruled by a sadistic, leather-clad queen on rollerskates who stabs a fat guy in the throat with a spear after he sucks on her booby a little.  And then things get weird.  The characters in this abandoned warehouse world all have the names of chess pieces and roles according to their titles, i.e. Queen, Knight, Bishop, etc.  Sort of, anyways.  The enigmatic, pipe-smoking Knight waxes philosophical and then breaks into a musical number for some reason, The Bishop, while in bondage, eats spaghetti that falls out of the mouth of an oracle mirror, there are dead, bloody fetuses in the middle of the warehouse floor, cardboard boxes serve as prisons...  It's a weird place and a weird movie.  I recommend watching the trailer to get a better idea of what the film is like because it's impossible to describe with words.

So if we are to break it down by the official description -  Apocalyptic: it is apocalyptic in that the world is going to end in one reality and possibly already has in the other.  Fetish:  there's a lot of leather and S&M headgear but there is a definite lack of sexual shenanigans in the movie.  The fetish stuff is more about power and control than lust or sex.  Horror:  there is very little horror other than the blood spattered spear stabbing and the previously mentioned bloody babies.  Musical:  yes, there are two musical numbers.  They come out of nowhere and they are both surprisingly excellent.  Chess:  As has already been mentioned, the characters in the weird world are named after chess pieces and the game is referenced several times in the film.  Sci-fi:  It takes place in an alternate world with oracles and shit.  Weird:  I can't say it enough times.  This movie is freakin' weird.

This is the first film I've seen from director Carlos Atanes, but it won't be the last.  It's rare to come across a movie that is truly unique and I look forward to seeing how bizarre his other films are.  So, if ever you are in the mood to see a darkly humorous and thought-provoking fetish musical, then you should check out Maximum Shame. Or just watch it for the sexy Spanish accents.  Either way, you should watch it.

Violence Rating/Index:  2 out of 5
Booby Rating/Index:  1 out of 5
Pipe Smoking Rating/Index:  2 out of 5

*Also, according to IMDb, Filmbizarro.com awarded Maximum Shame the "Biggest Mindfuck Award" in 2012.  It earned it.



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