When someone says that a movie, book, or TV show “has everything, and the kitchen sink,” it expresses that the media in question holds nothing back. Every idea that runs through the director or writer’s mind is there, in the twists the story takes, the arc of the characters, and the general atmosphere. Whether such an approach is a boon or a bane on the product depends entirely on the creators’ skills. Troma’s ReAgitator: Revenge Of The Parody is an everything, the kitchen sink, plus your neighbor’s kitchen sink for good measure, kind of movie.
Claudia (Amanda Flowers) and Alan (Alan Merrill, author of “I Love Rock N Roll”) Merryweather are an aristocratic, unhappily married couple. She is having an affair with the butler, Verum (goth nerd singer Aurelio Voltaire), but due to a fatal disease and Alan’s obsessive ways, she is unsure how to properly leave him.
Enter Orbert Wescraft (Jurgen Azazel Munster), a brilliant doctor who has been discredited by his peers for his radical ideas on resurrecting the dead. He decides to help out but intends to infuse Claudia’s body with the soul of his deceased wife. He injects Claudia, and she has a vision about the fate of the world. Wescraft succeeds in bringing Claudia back but she is a mindless husk, and as she wanders the city, she can barely recognize her friends.
Meanwhile, the police chief (Lloyd Kaufman) discovers his daughter Maude (Elizabeth D’Ambrosio) has been murdered. He vows to train his granddaughter Margaret (Sofe Cote) for years until she is ready to seek vengeance. This dovetails with Verum’s descent into madness from the loss of Claudia. Then Claudia joins an undead cult with aims of summoning an evil monster to destroy all people with a pulse.
“…intends to infuse Claudia’s body with the soul of his deceased wife.”
ReAgitator: Revenge Of The Parody does a lot right, starting with the script by director Dylan Greenberg and Jurgen Azazel Munster. The dialogue is verbose and exposition heavy but entirely on purpose. After Maude’s murder, the police chief goes off on a tirade and then verbally tells his deputy exactly how he’s going to train his granddaughter. The exchange between the two, and how it plays into well-worn tropes is hilarious.
The way Claudia and Verum’s affair is disclosed to the audience is equally amusing. After a stilted dinner party, the butler and the aristocratic wife steal some alone time and expound on their woes. The ridiculous reasons she won’t leave Alan are presented as the most melodramatic parts of a terrible soap opera. The dialogue is snappy and leans hard into the overwrought situation to pave the way for a humorous send-up.
Greenberg’s directing style has a punk rock, in your face sensibility that meshes well with the rat-a-tat speed of the banter. The manic editing during the sequence in which Wescraft gives Claudia the formula to reanimate her reminds one of a drum solo during a live show. It goes with the rhythm of the original song, spirals into something entirely new, but still catchy, before coming back into the fold so things can continue as usual.
The movie plays host to a lot of surreal imagery, most of which fit well into the film. Sadly, though, after Claudia’s injection, ReAgitator’s stops and starts in fits for the next twenty minutes. The movie devolves into a series of music videos, one after another after another. In the first one, Claudia witnesses a half dozen or so naked people interpretive dancing and foaming at the mouth on top of a roof. Then Claudia zombie-like shambles across the city as the movie montages what she sees in this haze and that she doesn’t recognize everything as she should. The last one is Verum’s descent into his own personal hell.
To be entirely fair, there are some dialogue or character interactions between each segment here. But not enough time elapses for the movie to achieve forward momentum before another music video enters the fray. The walking through the city and the descent into hell work much better than the first vision, for lack of a better word. At no part does Claudia learn or do anything based on the information there, whereas the others are either informed by previous character set up or inform later character decisions.
“…Greenberg’s directing style has a punk rock, in your face sensibility that meshes well with the rat-a-tat speed of the banter”
Of course, with so many musical icons in primary and secondary roles, the soundtrack is an absolute highlight of the movie. Several of the songs were written by people involved in other areas of production such as Greenberg (credited as Dylan Mars) penning “Dark Dancer.” Purple Pam, who pays the deputy in the movie, has her song “Identify” featured prominently. While the theme song, “Re-Agitator (Official Theme Song)” is good, the most headbanging tune is Izzy And The Chimera’s “Starlight And Gasoline.”
The actors give their all to the roles and sell the insanity well. Voltaire is sympathetic and his wicked comedic timing lands several of the movie’s biggest laughs. Kaufman’s reaction to the death of his daughter is so over-the-top that it suits his manic onscreen persona nicely. Flowers is brilliant as the dying, then dead, Claudia, especially in the later half of the movie, once the cult is introduced. Munster’s Wescraft is diabolical and he goes all in on the mad scientist trope, to amusing results.
At two hours long, ReAgitator: Revenge Of The Parody isn’t short on ambition. It does tow the line of the best and worst instincts of a Troma movie, though. The style is unique, the story goes to some unexpected places, and the humor is consistently ridiculous. The game cast is having a ball with the material, and the soundtrack is one of the best of any Troma movie. But in an effort to try everything out, the screenwriters and director did not stop to think if it was all necessary for the story at hand. Scattershot can be fun and engaging, but superfluity can weigh the whole affair down.
ReAgitator: Revenge Of The Parody (2017) Directed by Dylan Greenberg. Written by Dylan Greenberg, Jurgen Azazel Munster. Starring Amanda Flowers, Jurgen Azazel Munster, Aurelio Voltaire, Alan Merrill, Lloyd Kaufman, Elizabeth D’Ambrosio, Sofe Cote.
6.5 Gummi Bears (out of 10)