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By Heidi Martinuzzi | March 1, 2005

Raquel and Wanda are two wacky strippers who get mixed up in tons of supernatural, military, and sexy-fun intrigue in “Screech of the Decapitated”, a film about two women who prove that just because you’re pretty and dumb doesn’t mean you can’t be smart and funny…

When the audience first meets Wanda and Raquel, they are driving in their convertible down the roads of South America, in search of adventure and the next big stripping job. It seems they had a bit of “trouble” back home, and had to get out of town fast! But these two girls don’t let anything get to them. In fact, when they run into a serial killer by the side of the road and watch him transform into a werewolf, they don’t even start panicking. Well, they panic a little. Mind you, as strippers, Wanda and Raquel spend the entire film wearing their pink and yellow showgirl outfits, with heels. Running into characters like Nadir and Queen Maquzita from another planet, vampires, biker dykes, and wrestlers, you’d think that their hair would get mussed at least, but these two chicks have got it together.

Think “Romy and Michelle” meets “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and you’ll have an accurate idea of what the filmmakers were shooting for. Not quite horror, not quite sci-fi, but all comedy, “Screech of the Decapitated” treats b-movies with a refreshingly feminine take on beauty, comedy, and horror. As the main characters, Wanda and Raquel are ridiculous, but not in a degrading way. They see the world through the eyes of two beautiful, self-confident, and definitively female heroines, while still kicking a*s. They don’t need to don army boots and wipe off their makeup in order to escape from terrors unknown. Rather, their femininity is a weapon unto itself. Employing the same “feminine does not necessarily equal stupid” principal made acceptable by such films as “Clueless” and “Legally Blond”, “Screech of the Decapitated” finally brings sexiness and b-movies to a comfortable, and engaging, spot that it has been hard-pressed to find before.

The truly charming chemistry between Wanda (Shannon Noelle Garrigus,) and Raquel (Brittany Petros) is nice because the comedy flows so well between them. Debbie Rochon makes her cameo as Queen Maquzita, the consort of Nadir (Ed Flanagan). Nadir is perhaps the most exaggerated and hilarious character in the entire film. Peripheral characters add much humor when needed, and the flow of the film is never interrupted, nor is the style compromised by the need for classic horror or b-movie clichés. When clichés do appear, they are smart and witty, not amateurish.

Though the plot becomes muddled sometimes, and the production quality is not that of higher budgeted films, I was actually impressed with the degree of comedy reached by the filmmakers. Reminiscent of recent indie b-spoofs with class like “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra”, “Screech of the Decapitated” has a good chance of being taken seriously by real filmmakers. By spoofing b-kings like Ed Wood rather than trying to emulate him for art’s sake, the filmmakers have been able to draw a fine line between homage and mockery (although they often cross between the two, with funny results).

The special effects are not particularly gory, though they are purposefully funny. One gets the feeling that there are not many actual “mistakes” in this film. What flaws exist are purposefully exaggerated for comedic effect. It’s nice to see filmmakers accepting their budget restrictions rather than forcing an audience to sit through CGI, blood, and gore that they cannot afford, nor can they master. Screech avoids this by flat-out admitting that it is a b-film, with a b-budget, and they have fun with it. It probably helps that they had good actors, a funny, well-written script, and plenty of movies to learn “what not to do” from.

“Screech of the Decapitated” has an unusual way of presenting female leads that is amusing and interesting. It is also a damn funny movie with references to sci-fi and horror that don’t get under your skin. Instead, “Screech” is just a good time.

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