Killer Tongue (La Lengua Asesina)
Director/Screenplay – Alberto Sciamma, Producers – Christopher Figg & Andres Vicente Gomez, Photography – Denis Crossan, Music – Fangoria, Makeup/Tongue Effects – Image Animation, Production Design – Jose Luis del Barco & Cath Pater Lancudd. Production Company – Lola Films S.A./Sogetel S.A./The Spice Factory/The Noel Gay Motion Picture Co/The European Motion Picture Fund/Canal +/Sogepaq
Melinda Clarke (Candy), Jason Durr (Johnny), Robert Englund (Chief Screw), Mapi Galan (Rita), Jonathan Rhys Myers (Rudolph), Danny Edwards (Loca), Kimberly (Mimi)
Johnny and his girlfriend Candy conduct an armed robbery for which he is arrested and sentenced to four years in jail. She goes into a convent to wait for his release and emerges as the end of his sentence nears. However, the ruthless warden is determined to do everything he can to make Johnny do something to screw up his parole so that he can keep him in jail. Meanwhile a meteor from space comes down and lands in Candy’s soup. It turns her four poodles into drag queens. When she eats the soup, it possesses her tongue. The tongue then starts killing people around Candy in its hunger for food, while also impregnating her.
The spirit of Pedro Alomodovar hangs over Spanish cinema like a patron saint. A good percentage of modern Spanish output identifies itself with Almodovar’s giddy and flamboyant camp style and outrageously kinky exploits. Indeed, Killer Tongue seems like a crosshatch between Almodovar and an 80s post-Evil Dead (1982) effects horror film. [Almodovar himself made a venture into horror cinema with the necrophile black comedy Matador (1986)].
Killer Tongue is bizarre to say the least. The basic concept is suitably amusing. However, packed in around the edges of the film are the Almodovar-esque likes of chain gangs being run by sadistic warden Robert Englund who has Fuck You tattooed on his knuckles (the hero eventually makes an escape across a desert handcuffed to a Jeep he must drag after him); a nowhere gas station run by nuns; and the heroine’s poodles who are transformed into drag queens by the meteorite. In the opening moments, the hero and heroine are engaged in a bank robbery and leave two guards taken as hostages with their lips glued together. One wishes all this giddy bizarreness added up to an akilter sense of humour. Unfortunately, Killer Tongue is amateurishly directed. The comedy comes pitched at an inane level of humour with a staccato freneticism that at times feels like it is a silent movie.
Killer Tongue was a Spanish/English co-production. It imports two American stars – Freddy Krueger himself, the perpetually awful Robert Englund, and Melinda Clarke from Return of the Living Dead III (1993) and Spawn (1997), who is outfitted in a spectacular seemingly painted-on skintight black bodysuit. That said, Clarke gives a performance that only consists of wild, frightened looks. (There is also a pre-fame Jonathan Rhys Myers in the film too). The film is co-produced by Christopher Figg, the producer of Hellraiser (1987). Indeed, there are a number of Hellraiser alumni, including Pinhead himself Doug Bradley (ignominiously billed as Dough Bradley) and the effects team Image Animation.
The effects are the one thing that makes Killer Tongue watchable with some appealingly whacko effects of the tongue shredding a fried chicken, Melinda Clarke kissing a guy in a bath and the tongue boring right through the porcelain underneath, and it slapping her face. The most indescribably surreal moment has Melinda Clarke attacking the tongue with an iron and a butcher’s knife, it wrapping itself around her face and then around a beam and hanging her from the ceiling. However, when the tongue starts developing a voice like a bad stand-up comedian, the film is all downhill from there.