By Daniel Wible | January 11, 2003

Hey man, what gives here? Is the gnarly “The Death Lords” some really obscure cult oddity from the 70’s recently unearthed and jazzed up with a nifty animated sequence? Or is it a brand spanking new movie just made to look very, very much that way? If it’s the case of the former, I say Right On! Props to Culture Shock for dusting off this forgotten gem! If it’s the case of the latter, well, let’s just say it’s one freakin’ brilliant trick and that writer/director Neil Ayers is some kind of freakin’ brilliant wizard. (That’d be an evil wizard, mind you.) Whatever the case may be and whoever the hell these people are, make no mistake, “The Death Lords” is one lewd, crude, and stupidly good time. Imagine John Waters directing a script by Hunter S. Thompson and Sid Vicious (who’s quoted in the opening credits). Take away poo-eating transsexuals and you’re approximating the inspired degeneracy of this film. Sort of.

So, you want plot? Tough s**t. “The Death Lords” is far too bad-a*s for such law-abiding conventions. Call it a character study, if you will, of the most dangerous and feared biker gang in the country. Or so these dumb-a***s would have you think. In reality, they’re about as tough as the King of Pop is limp around kids. There’s the fearless leader, Alvin “Street Smarts” Axoltl (Peter Occipinti). He’s the “brains” of the bunch, the Moe of these stooges, and a lady killer to boot. Then there’s Boris “Dr. Weird” Cowznofsky (Neil Ayers), the gang’s financial advisor, who’s not above cleansing himself in, say, gasoline. (He smokes too.) Last but not least, there’s portly Chuck “Brain Damage” Potrzebie (Big Al Boyd). As his name would imply, Chuck’s pretty much not the brains of this outfit. In fact, he’s pretty much just… there.

This terrifying threesome spends much of their free time lounging about their toxic waste dump of a house, getting stoned, and harassing nerdy Death Lord-wannabe Harvey (Tom Nursell). If the Lords do ever venture out of their HQ it’s to either shakedown little girls for drugs (don’t ask) or to score some top shelf stuff from the Syndicate, a less-than-up-and-up organization bartering in “dangerous” drugs and pornography. Yes, the Lords lead a charming life, that is, until a deal with the Syndicate goes horribly wrong, sending the cops on their reeking, slimy trail. Of course the cops are the least of their worries though, what with the super sexy servant of Satan, Angel Evilia (Denise Barnes), out to end their sorry lives. Things come to a downright wacked-out head when Ms. Evilia lures them to their “Top Secret High Command Retreat Chateau” (a piece of crap house in the woods) with the promise of a steamy ménage-a-trois. Too good to be true? You bet. But these guys are still my heroes.

The Pope of Trash, John Waters, once said, “I pride myself on the fact that my work has no socially redeeming value.” That’s why we’ll always love you John. I think Neil Ayers must be a fan too, since he freely and wonderfully evokes the pure pop-trash spirit of this manifesto. But really, that’s just a fancy way of saying “The Death Lords” is one raucously hilarious movie. It’s smart too, albeit in a really dumb way, which is quite a feat. It’s also sick, twisted, perverted, and, to quote Brain Damage, “really neat.” And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t spit hell-fire on the establishment. The visuals are gloriously grainy, the sound exceptionally shoddy, and the soundtrack by the Tijuana Bibles totally rocking. The three main actors (including Ayers himself) are almost scary good in their roles. They, and the film itself, make being bad (and stupid and good-for-nothing and degenerate) look oh so good. Lots of love to the Lords of Trash! (As it turns out, “The Death Lords” actually is a long-lost cult classic, originally made in Canada in 1979, and only recently revamped for this DVD edition. The opening credit sequence and the soundtrack are apparently new.)

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