* If you’re contemplating suicide or self harm, please call 1-800-273-8255 in the United States. In Canada, please call Crisis Services at 1-833-456-4566 or visit Suicide.org to find help in your country.
On the surface, the setup for the feature-length debut from co-directors Lee Paula Springer and Chris Bavota is straightforward. Every time the titular Richard dies, he is reborn, buck naked and fully grown from a giant vagina on his bedroom wall. But this Groundhog’s Day-esque setup has a twist: his dead bodies don’t simply vanish. By the time his sister Becca arrives, big Richie is beside himself…literally!
Walking in on your brother’s dead corpse is likely among every sister’s worst nightmare, only topped when she turns around and see his full monty staring her in the face! As you might have guessed, grotesque horror comedy of the darkest variety ensues throughout this enclosed narrative. Unfolding almost entirely in a single apartment, Richie and Becca come to terms with their predicament—and copious dick shots—over the course of the film.
While I was prepared for (and received) dark, demented humor, I was entirely unprepared for the story to hit such emotional depths as well. The filmmakers made the wise decision to provide the suicide hotline phone number* at the outset of the film, which serves as a sort of content warning. Indeed, rather than make suicide a punchline, Springer and Bavota artfully weave in a touching story about family trauma. Their script reveals the siblings’ troubled upbringing as they confront various obstacles of both the supernatural and man-made variety. What’s more, they manage to do this while still delivering some gross, full-body rebirth horror, along with the aforementioned bountiful penis.
Springer and Bavota, also collaborating on the script, manage to give us a brilliant depiction of mental illness. The story gives a complete picture of its victims, empathizing both with the afflicted and their family members. Dead Dicks weaves a relatable metaphor about feeling trapped by a loved one’s struggles, while simultaneously cutting the tension with scares, gore, and fart jokes.
The film’s balance of heavy themes, levity, and action made me hopeful for an uplifting resolution. Alas, the story ultimately lands on the heavy side, with a somewhat esoteric final scene. It definitely raises more questions than it answers, which means ultimate your mileage may vary. Overall, however, Dead Dicks delivers meaningful themes through a relatable story and engaging performances.
Dead Dicks is available on Blu-ray and VoD from Artsploitation Films.
* If you’re contemplating suicide or self harm, please call 1-800-273-8255 in the United States. In Canada, please call Crisis Services at 1-833-456-4566. Or visit Suicide.org to find help in your country.